Work-Life Balance – What Does that Really Mean?

Work-Life Balance: lately an over-used phrase that is used to explain that human beings require a stability or an equilibrium between work and their personal life. In the media, work-life balance has been portrayed as an impossible notion – workers need to be forever accessible, connected to their work for fear of losing their jobs or their clients.  

In a Harvard Business School survey, it has been noted that 94% of workers reported that they worked more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said that they worked closer to 65 hours per week. The media goes on to talk about how stress and mental health issues are also arising out of the lack of work-life balance which consequently affects happiness, relationships and health.

When we turn our heads to the balancing factor in work-life balance, we are encouraged to spend time with our children, husbands, friends and of course, to practice “me” time; go to the gym, go for a walk, get a manicure, practice yoga, treat yourself to a day at the spa…and this is done with the intention that we don’t burn out.

As a wife, mother and business-owner, I often revisit this notion of work-life balance – what does it mean to me specifically and my thoughts on this overused, and in my opinion misunderstood phrase. 

“Work” Has an Inherent Negative Connotation

For whatever reason, whenever used, “work” comes with a negative implication suggesting that individuals require the “life” aspect as a means to balance their “work” life. Yes, I agree it is important to spend time with your loved ones, to break away from your computer or your phone and to enjoy your surroundings. That is a practice that needs to be embedded in our everyday life…and not just as a means to balance work and life; but as a means to practice healthy habits. We are all connected to our screens, to emails and iMessages and as a result, we miss out. 

When talking specifically about taking time for yourself as a way to achieve a healthy work-life balance, I have to ask: could it be possible that “work life” provides a healthy balance to one’s personal life?

As a mom of two young children, here is what evenings and weekends look like: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, changing diapers, bottle feeding my youngest, meal preparation for my eldest, baths, approximately 2-3 outfit changes daily, nap times, activities and then about a 1-2 hour bed time fiasco involving “no”, “more water”, “another story”, “cuddle more”… and the list goes on. 

When Sunday night rolls around, Monday morning isn’t looking so bad. I love my children with all of my heart, but let’s be honest – being a parent is a job in itself…sometimes two!

…this leads me to my next point. 

It Takes a Village

For women who have children and also work and contribute to a two-income household (even moreso for single mothers – all the power to you!), there is an inherent desire to provide for the family, not to miss out on important events, but also to practice that “me” time – fitness, quiet time, whatever it may be. Rarely do articles mention what exactly needs to be in place in order to accomplish this.

In our home, my husband is beyond helpful, our nanny is god-sent, our parents play a vital role, half-day nursery is essential and time management is a MUST. Needless to say, there must be a method to the madness… we work hard to play an integral part of our family and we both value our work life, as well as our personal life.

Healthy Habits

More so than a push to practice a healthy work-life balance, I would stress that it is important to set healthy boundaries and implement healthy habits in your life – in whatever way works best for you. 

Here are some of my top tips:

  • Set boundaries between work time and personal time – it is OK to disconnect
  • You are allowed to put family first 
  • You are ALSO allowed to prioritize your work as well
  • Time block 
  • Take time for your relationships – friendships, marriages, etc.
  • Consider what success looks like in your work life, personal life as well as your relationships?
  • Identify what specifically is important to you and take the time to practice that – whether it be a work objective or personal objective 

…last but not least… try to find a job that doesn’t feel like WORK! When you truly love what you do, it doesn’t!