Sunday, July 31, 2011

Work-Life Balance...that thing we call "life"

I don’t have any mom-friends in Minneapolis that work full time outside the home. It can be a little lonely, feeling like have a huge portion of my life that is so foreign to so many of my friends. I sometimes feel like I am out on a branch, alone. Of course we are all overwhelmed in one way or another, and trying to walk that fine line between “family time” and “me time," to strike that perfect balance, but it’s hard to not have anyone who can totally relate. Anyway, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on work life balance, keep in mind I am not a writer, so these thoughts may be kind of random. I'm learning how to balance everything as I go!

One thing I learned recently is that people can be "Amazing at 3, Great at 5." This refers to the number of “hats” we are wearing. What this means is that if you try to wear more than 5 hats, you are likely either not going to wear it well, or your other hats won't fit quite as well. I think there is some wiggle room for each individual. For example I wear 4 hats – Wife, mother, employee, and CPA student. Every time I try to take on something else, maybe volunteer my time, or try to get into a new exercise routine, something else suffers a bit. (Of course if any of you are like me, you understand that the roles of Wife and Mother also mean by default you are the household Accountant, Financial Manager, Events and Activities Director, Social Coordinator, and Dietician). I suggest that you take some time to think about what or number is and evaluate whether you are taking on too much. I have found that 4 is all I can realistically wear. I can try to be a dedicated runner, or a very social person, always available to hang out, but I can only do those things at the expense of my other hats.

In all honesty, I would rather be wearing 3 hats, and then the option of changing around that 4th hat, depending on the day, but that's not life at the moment. Which brings be to another takeaway, some of our hats are just momentary. I won't always be studying. After I pass these exams (so like at minimum 9 months from now...), I won't be studying for a LOOONG time. I'll always be a mother, but my kids (sadly) won't always need me like they do now, etc. So enjoy the roles you are in now. They'll always be changing. If you don't think you are wearing enough hats, pick up some more!

The other thing on my mind is getting rid of the guilt. Mom’s LISTEN UP—I’m talking to you here! We all have that guilt! We feel guilty when we have to work late, we feel guilty when we serve mac and cheese or chicken nuggets for the second time that week, or when we drop our kids off at daycare or school with a low grade fever. Yes, I’ve done the last one!

So how can we remove the guilt? I think the answer is different for everyone, but the most important thing is that we all need to be OK with the choices we make. I know that's the answer for me.

I will not be home to take my kids to library story time, but I do read books to them every night. I can't make the birthday parties that are thrown on a random Tuesday, but we can still celebrate birthdays by picking up a special gift for a friend. I can't make 4 course gourmet meals, but I can sneak ground up spinach into their spaghetti sauce. I'm learning to be OK with these things because I firmly believe that my choice to be a working mom makes me a better mom, and as a better mom, I can be a better role model for my daughter and my son. These are choices I have made and I am happy with all of them, while I realize that many of my choices do no resonate with others, my being okay with them, is what is going to give me the confidence to shape my life into what I want it to be.

Are you okay with the decisions you've made? Do you wear them proudly? Are you wearing too many hats?


Mrs. B. said...

What a fantastic post. Exactly the things I've been thinking about lately. I have too many hats and no choices about taking them off. I'm stuck at the moment - but you're so right about the hats not being permanent.
I have about 4-5 that I'm juggling and it doesn't feel very good.
I've been praying a lot about letting go of perfectionism and letting God fill in the gaps that I miss.

Anyway, thanks for the post. It resonated here. :)

Catherine Kousma Photography said...

This is such a great post. I don't work outside of the home at the moment, but there were still a few things that I really needed to hear. Thanks :)

Mama Llama said...

Hi Annie. I found your blog when I was searching the internet for Baby Morgan blankets. Did you ever order the blanket from Dillards, and if you did, did you like it? Was the thermal like a thermal shirt, or was it the fuzzy, acrylic kind of thermal? Thanks so much!