When your work inbox has an astonishing amount of emails in need of a response and your children are running havoc around your house you might ask yourself: can parents actually achieve work/life balance?
This is one of the most popular questions I get, in pandemic times and during summer holidays – even more! How do you achieve a sound balance between running a successful business, staying sane and making sure the kids stay alive (while preferably also being fed, clothed and happy)?
One of my clients, let’s call her Mary, once showed me a long list of tasks and chores and cited the minimum amount of time each of them would take to get through. She had it all on there: meetings, her business’s social media, personal hair appointments, her son’s soccer practice and more.
“I either need a clone or more hours in a day,” she frowned, and I told her what I will tell you now: “There are only two emergencies – excessive bleeding and constricted breathing. Maybe a third, if your house is on fire. Pretty much everything else can wait.”
I’ve spoken about delegation before. When that’s not an option, delay.
Look at your list. Slice it in half. Schedule one half for another time. That will land you at about the right amount of stuff to get done that day and get you as close to ‘balance’ as you’re going to get. What you tell yourself can’t wait, often can wait. And when you’re important, which you are, people will wait for you. Mary needed to hear it, and maybe you do too: Your neurosis about delaying something is probably worse than the actual consequences.
Here’s a twist to this quite complex dilemma. Maybe you should abandon the idea of ‘balance’? In a strange kind of way, balance disappears the moment you have a child. Do you remember all the things you put your parents through as a kid? Knowingly or unknowingly? ‘Balance’ is a concept. Life is life, and life is messy. Trading the concept of ‘balance’ for the richness of ‘family’ is worth it.