Work-life balance has become a bit of a buzz phrase, especially among mompreneurs. An ideal that is often sought after and discussed as missing from our lives. Seeking to find a balance between competing desires and responsibilities personally and professionally can be daunting.
A start of a new year often means New Year’s resolutions. A strong desire for work-life balance is evident in the many blogs on the subject. More exercise or improving fitness, pursuing a career ambition, taking up a new hobby, and spending more time with family are frequently among the most popular resolutions—all are aspects of daily life. And all of these pursuits are driven by the desire to have time for everything important to us.
We are constantly chasing the next idea to balance seemingly competing priorities. For women who are working mothers or mompreneurs, there are additional considerations. Many women are navigating the added priorities (and stresses) of raising children, often carrying the bulk of daily household responsibilities, in addition to trying to carve time for self-care and a career.
Historically, employers have viewed work as separate from the rest of our lives. The COVID pandemic's impact on our lifestyles has further blurred the already fading lines of distinction between work and life. With more people working from home than ever before and children home for online schooling, work and the rest of life are intertwined now more than ever.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is defined as the equilibrium between personal life and career work. Equilibrium is a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced. However, work and “the rest of life” aren’t separate entities that require equal weight. They are parts of the whole that make up our lives, which ask us to discern what is most vital for us and make conscious choices moment by moment.
Do we really seek to “balance” the amount of time and effort that we put into every area equally? Or are we seeking a way to create fulfillment in all areas of life? Keeping score and making sure the scales are "equal" make our lives sound more like an equation than a delicate dance of finding what works for us to be at our best and feel fulfilled.
Viewing all aspects in relationship to each other and integrating the parts to work together are the keys to feeling fulfilled and achieving inner peace.
Related Reading: Values and Work-Life Balance: What Is Most Important?
Integrating Work as Part of Life
The goal and the ultimate balance are to work with goals, activities, or other events in your family and social life. It is creating fluidity and integration of all parts that are both cohesive and responsive. A harmonious relationship that doesn’t require equal attention to any individual facet of viewing work and life separately.
Thinking of work as a part of life versus separate from life creates a sense of wholeness and flow instead of a feeling of competition among life’s elements.
Approaching balance with the goal of connection and synergy between all areas of your life (work, home, family, community, personal interests, and your well-being) is much more holistic. With this perspective, we are not at war within ourselves nor do we feel like we're juggling multiple balls since we become more present to whatever we choose.
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”
~Heather Schuck, The Working Mom Manifesto
3 Tips to Integrate a Holistic Work-Life Balance
Integrating all aspects of your life and seeing them all as parts of a whole can help make clearer decisions and allow you to better honor your commitments. (Although with the added awareness, you may need to say no more often to opportunities and demands that don't match your values or goals.)
Some other benefits of a holistic approach are less stress, enhanced enjoyment of life, more rest, and improved overall health, which naturally unfold. Ease replaces rigidity and competition. Working more or less is not specifically the goal. The goal is to understand our needs and shift daily—even hourly—our work habits and patterns to support well-being while also achieving career aspirations or fulfilling work requirements on the job.
1 Planning is crucial
A plan should be firm, yet flexible. Lists, calendars, and a master schedule showing ALL responsibilities and priorities help us integrate the parts into the whole. Use whatever works best for you and your family to plan and prioritize together. Seek to understand what structure is needed to feel fulfilled. The goal is not to control time but to understand and structure how you use time and make it work for you and your business.
Reevaluate your plan regularly to make necessary adjustments. The more complex your life, the more critical planning and reevaluation are. The different seasons of our lives bring about changes that require us to update and readjust what we expect of ourselves.
For instance, I remember doing an awareness activity with a woman years ago. My client came to me because she felt she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Stressed and exhausted, she was racing from one thing to another—enjoying nothing. In our coaching, she realized her life was squeezed into the same demanding schedule as when she was single. Now, married with two young children, there was no time for either role, which resulted in frequent conflicts with her children and husband! Every day was a marathon; one big competition for attention. She was trying to live at the same intensity and do just as much—an impossibility. We resculpted her schedule to one of ease that allowed her to enjoy her family and her job while still carving time for self-care.
Related Reading: Why Time Management for Moms Is a Myth
2 Be Present to One Aspect of Life at a Time
Being present means consciously being in the moment and giving that moment your full attention. If we are multi-tasking, moving quickly from one task to another, or our mind is somewhere different from our body, we are not present.
If we are playing with our kids but thinking about a report that is due or creating a dinner plan in our head while we are in a business meeting, we are not present to the people and environment around us, or even our own feelings.
Being present to ourselves allows us to respond more authentically. Being present to others shows that we value the person and allows us to experience those moments more fully. Being present to our projects and tasks is less stressful than multitasking and enables us to be highly productive. Be present and mindful.
3 Let Go of Expectations
The reality of not meeting our expectations can be a source of pain. Expecting to get it right, never disappointing others, or continually having an amazing flow to your day is unrealistic. Life is dynamic. Your needs will shift and change. Adapting and moving with changing needs and priorities is essential to living a whole and harmonious life. When we practice more responsiveness, we learn to be resilient, an emotional intelligence competency well worth acquiring.
Related Reading: Life's Porcupines and Resiliency: Adapting to the Unexpected
Work-life balance isn’t about balance at all.
Our individual values, priorities, and rhythms determine what is best for our ourselves and family. Understanding how to create and work within a structure that allows all parts of life to be fulfilling takes effort and resilience. Change is a constant. Learning to work and live your life within constant change is a lifelong process.
Have you found yourself stressed out and needing relief? Would you like help in crafting ease, fulfillment, and fluidity? Heartmanity is here to support! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.