The questions I find in my inbox the very most are always about work life balance. What does my day look like? How do I make time to blog? How do I do it all? The answer: I don’t do it all. I think doing it all is a myth. But I do know a few tricks. So today, as part of my ongoing 5th Anniversary celebration, I’m launching a Work Life Balance Project.
Like many parents, I’ve become an accidental researcher on the topic through trial and error, and by studying what seems to work for other people. I’ve decided to write up some of the things that have struck me. As part of the project, I’m intentionally making them easy to share. Each thought is constructed in less than 140 characters and I’ve included a hashtag (#WorkLifeBalance). If you read one that strikes a chord with you, hopefully it will be easy for you to share on Twitter or Facebook (or wherever it is you do what you do).
The term #WorkLifeBalance is probably not exactly right, but it’s as close as I could get. By “work” I’m thinking of the sorts of projects we do outside of parenting — PTA meetings, a job, scrapbooking, etc. By “life” I’m thinking of relationships and family time. Of course, there can be some overlap, this is just the general thinking on my part. Some of the thoughts will lean more toward Work and some more toward Life.
To be clear, these are things that have worked for ME. They may not work for you at all. Some you’ll agree with. Some you won’t. That’s definitely okay. This is an important topic and the more thoughts and ideas we share, the better. The thoughts are intended to spark conversation and discussion and I hope you’ll add your wisdom to the mix. I love being intentional about how we live our lives and design our days.
You can find my first five thoughts on the topic below, and I’ll be adding more as I go. If you have something you’ve learned (that you can condense to 140 characters or less) and you’d like to share, please do. Please, please! I’ll add my favorites to the list.
1) Doing it all is a myth. Doing what you love is the goal. #WorkLifeBalance
No one is doing it all. If it looks like they are, it’s a mirage. On days where my blog is really good, that means I spent a lot of time on it and had to let something else go. Usually it’s the housework. : ) There’s no point in doing it all, the better goal is to spend your day doing things you love.
2) It’s okay to ask for help. If you have a parenting question or if you need an extra hand, ask someone. #WorkLifeBalance
Ask for what you need. Don’t assume people will know. Your spouse doesn’t know what you need. Neither does your mom. Neither does your sister or your best friend. If you need help, ask for it — and be specific. There’s no shame in needing help. Everybody needs help.
3) As parents, we joke about sleep, but it will make or break your day. Make it a priority. #WorkLifeBalance
Everything is better when you’ve had enough sleep. I know it seems impossible, especially when you have a newborn, but do whatever you can to make it happen. Trade babysitting with a friend and use your free-time to nap. Skip your favorite TV show and get to bed as early as possible.
Different people need different amounts of sleep. I do best on 8+ hours. If you’re the same, after the newborn stage, get serious about helping your child sleep through the night. Not everyone is comfortable letting their baby cry it out, but it worked wonderfully for our family. I use this book as a reference for sleep-training.
4) Multi-tasking creates poor results. Do one thing at a time and do it well. #WorkLifeBalance
Sometimes it can’t be helped — we’ve all made dinner and had the baby on our hip at the same time. But when possible, do one thing at a time. Play with your child, then let the child play on their own (or with a sitter) while you do your daily tasks. Put down your phone when it’s family time. Wait until your kids are asleep to start that new project. Twenty minutes of uninterrupted, concentrated work is far better than an hour of trying to do 5 things at once.
5) Manners matter. Be nice. Play nice. #WorkLifeBalance
If you send that snarky email, it will only create more work (and a headache) when you have to manage (and obsess over) the aftermath. Just be nice instead. If you do something rude or mean, apologize as quickly as possible.
I’d love to hear your take. Is this sort of thing helpful to you? Do you agree or disagree with these thoughts? Do you have your own wisdom to share?
P.S. — Ben Blair took these photos behind the scenes during our French Greys Family Portrait . By the end of the photo session, sweet June was worn out.