Pursuing a perfect work/life balance frequently leads working moms down a path filled with overwhelming demands and lingering guilt. The problem is not chasing balance but rather the fundamental notion that balance is some form of equality between two sides of a scale.
Women have always had a more challenging time in the workplace than men. If that weren’t the case, we would see a fair representation of women in senior leadership roles, and their salaries would be on par with those of their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality we face. To make matters worse, according to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2022 report, women are leaving their jobs at unprecedented rates. One of the leading contributing factors is that women are still burdened with an unfair share of parenting responsibilities, making it difficult to find a work/life balance.
The term balance suggests an equal distribution of time and energy between work and family. However, this ideal is nearly impossible to achieve and often leads to feelings of guilt, dissatisfaction and burnout. Women striving for this equal balance between work and family life tend to downgrade their career ambitions, change to less demanding jobs, or take a break from work altogether.
The key to achieving balance, though, lies in redefining the concept of balance. It’s essential to understand that balance is a personalised and dynamic equation that involves prioritising your values, goals, and aspirations. Every individual has unique circumstances, and their perfect balance will vary accordingly.
To find your personalised balance, start by identifying your priorities. Reflect on your values, desires, and goals to create a vision that respects and supports them. Building a support network is also crucial. Let go of your need to do it all; seek help from friends, family, and colleagues. Delegating responsibilities and asking for help will create space for you to focus on your career and family life.
Effectively managing the use of time is another crucial factor in achieving balance. Learn to prioritise tasks, set boundaries, and use tools and technology to streamline daily routines. It won’t be easy, and you won’t always feel like you are winning, develop a resilient mindset, be flexible and be kind to yourself as you navigate through challenges.
Remember, finding balance is a personal journey. Don’t limit yourself through the belief that work-life balance means an equal split of your time and energy, rather develop a sense of balance that feels right for you. By doing so, you can create an environment that allows you to thrive in your career and family life.
Your state of balance
Working mom, drop the guilt and apply these tips to achieve your individual state of balance:
- Define balance in terms of your unique values, priorities, and circumstances.
- Communicate your needs and ask for help at home and at work.
- Set and prioritise goals in all areas of your life. Break them down into small action steps and track your progress.
- Embrace flexibility, and adaptability, and acknowledge that plans may change.
- Be mindful of how you spend your time and prioritise tasks that align with your desired state of balance.
- Learn to say no to activities that don’t align with your unique state of balance.
Usha Maharaj CA(SA)
Passionate about women’s empowerment and human potential