Maria's blog: New Year’s resolution: the work-life balance unicorn

I am writing this as the new year has started. Every new year whilst I think of meaningful resolutions (most of which are broken by this time!), I tell myself I will somehow find a way to better balance work and life at home! Less stress, less yelling, more quality time with mini me, etc. etc.

In 2018 I managed to find a new job that allows me to work from home pretty much most of the time, which is rare in the corporate world I am used to and fabulous in so many ways. I can be around more for mini me, which makes me feel less guilty as a full time working mother (and single mother); I can pop out to go to dentist or the doctor without having to ask for permission, which feels like an odd sentence to type as an adult! But there you go, this only highlights how most of us get managed in a way that doesn’t empower us as adults and professionals. Surely it should be about deliverables and where or when you do your work shouldn’t really matter, as long as you meet your objectives and are contactable and responsive to queries when required.

I say kudos to organisations that take this approach because truly and genuinely treating employees like customers (i.e. valuing their job satisfaction) pays back tenfold with loyalty, engagement and stronger performance. And I feel confident saying that truly making flexible/agile working as business as usual is a great tool to attract/hire, retain, engage and develop a diverse workforce. There is so much untapped talent out there of people who would be able to work if allowed to do it flexibly and/or remotely (from parents like myself, to carers, to people with disabilities or long term health conditions and simply anyone who would like to avoid wasting every day’s commuting time and using it for a hobby, learning or to keep fit instead).

But I am digressing! Have I truly found work-life balance?

Well, everything has its downsides, right? Having a global role (which makes my location of work irrelevant) gives me the freedom of working from everywhere, but the double edge sword element is that sometimes you need to do late calls with other time zones. And working from home most of the time makes it hard to switch off and have clear boundaries between home and work life so you need to be very self-disciplined and create those boundaries. Without interruptions you end up working more and moving less so weight loss is the knock on New Year’s resolution!

But I tell you what, in my personal opinion it’s a price worth paying for such amazing freedom.

I have spent my professional life looking for a job that would allow me to work from home more, to be a more present parent, to juggle my responsibilities better, to have the freedom to even one day get a dog. Finding such a job is not that easy, but they do exist!

Mini me is 10 and this is an important year with SATs coming up, secondary school starting in September and moving home too! I feel a tad overwhelmed already by the year ahead. But knowing I can flex my working hours gives me the confidence that I can somehow do it all!

I am still forever tired and always on the go (aren’t we all!), occasionally stressed and snappy, but I remind myself often of how lucky I am to be in this position, so I am determined to make it work.

Mini me and I have a resolution to help us juggle it all: that we will both tell each other off when we take out any negative feelings on each other, that when we talk to each other we shall put our electronics down for full attention and that we will support each other to tick off tasks from our to do list. Teamwork, self-awareness and self-compassion are key. We can only do the best we can and we have to learn to ask for help when required. And when we feel like we are failing juggling it all, perhaps we simply take a step back and a deep breath and remind ourselves that overall we are doing a pretty good job at holding it all together most days!

So I have come to the conclusion that nowadays work-life balance doesn’t really exist; it’s more about work-life integration and finding a way to make it all work the best that we can.

Maria is a Diversity & Inclusion consultant for a global tech company. She is a single parent to her 10 year old daughter following the sudden death of her husband 6 years ago.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

Peace Ani - 14/01/2019 - 22:36
Absolutely spot on Maria. Totally agree with the phrase work-life integration.

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