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Imperfectly Balanced, Defined

I keep hearing the phrase, "Work life balance" lately. And I cringe every time I hear it.


Am I supposed to have my work and life in balance? I'm a wife, mother of two, work a full-time job and am working on building a business on the side. Am I supposed to have this balance thing all figured out? Because I definitely don't!


This concept of work life balance is without a doubt impossible for me to achieve. So I think I'll flip it on its head. What if we revise the narrative? Instead of thinking of work life balance as a scale with work on one side and life on the other, what if we define work life balance in terms of something else? What if work and life aren't supposed to be thought about like two kids on a teeter totter? {Because, lemme tell ya. These "work life balance kids" in my scenario are like kittens chasing a ball of string...they're all over the place.}


So I think I need to redefine the word, "balance." I used to think of it as a glittery, rainbow colored unicorn. A beautiful magical creature that doesn't exist. Rather than putting so much pressure on ourselves to wash, dry, fold and put away the laundry all in 3 hours time--what if we decide to at least get it washed and dried one day, folded the next, and put away the third? Instead of beating ourselves up because we went to bed and left dirty dishes in the sink, what if we gave ourselves a little grace and washed them the next day.


What if instead, we define balance as: completing tasks at work and home that are of the utmost importance for survival. So, by this definition I suppose the earth won't fall off it's access if I don't wash, dry, fold and put away all the laundry in 3 hours. And I suppose the same is true if I let the dishes sit in the sink for tomorrow, while I spend some quality time with my family.


At the end of the day, I suppose the best way for me to keep my sanity and not fall to pieces stressing over work life balance, is to think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow posits that we must first ensure our survivability needs are met before we can worry about anything else. For example, if you do not have food, clothing, and shelter are you really going to focus on pursuing higher education? Of course not.


So with this in mind, I choose to think about work life balance just as Maslow defines the first level in his hierarchy. In order to provide food, clothing and shelter for my family I will need to work, so clearly I will always ensure my work responsibilities are met. But at the end of the day, I'm not going to break my back and work 14 hours/day because it will make me "look good" and "help me get promoted."


When I'm home with my family, I will always ensure my family is taken care of. But at the end of the day, I'm not going sacrifice quality time with them for the sake of doing laundry or dishes.


So I suppose with this new definition in mind, balance is achievable...imperfectly balanced, that is!

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