Work Life Balance: Part 2

September 7, 2011

Poster by Anthony Burrel. Spotted on Joy Ever After.

Hello, Friends! Are you ready for part two of the Work Life Balance Series? I have five more thoughts to share with you — some are more “work” related. Others focus more on “life. Plus, I’ve included some really great quotes from Design Mom Readers.

Once again, I’ll point out that these are things that have worked for ME, but may or may not work for you. Feel free to agree or disagree and definitely feel free to share your own thoughts. I LOVED reading what you had to say on the last post. It’s such an important topic. The more we disucss, the better! Like last time, each thought has been distilled to 140 characters or less, so it’s easy to share.

6) Appreciate and embrace your current season of life. #WorkLifeBalance

If you’re pottytraining your daughter this month, it might not be the best time to schedule the family vacation to Paris — where public toilets can be few and far between. Do your best to acknowledge and appreciate the current season of your life. Your baby may not always be so snuggly. Your curious preschooler may not always assume you know the answers to every question. Embrace your current life. And when it’s hard to embrace, know the next season is coming faster than you think.

“There are things I can do now that I won’t be able to do later, and it’s about making sure I do the important things pertaining to that season right now.” - Louise


7) Comparing yourself to others is the fastest way to a bad day. Don’t do it. #WorkLifeBalance

This is a huge one! But sometimes, this is really hard to do. When I find myself slipping into comparison thoughts, my best way out is to do something creative — whether it’s baking or doodling or a major DIY project. If I’m engaged in something creative, my brain won’t make space for destructive thoughts.

“Just because it seems like my friends manage to do in one day what I can get done in a week, doesn’t mean it’s true, nor does it mean that I have to also.” – Kathleen

“Comparison begets either pride or discontent, neither of which help with genuine kindness or relationships. When I eliminate comparisons, I can let go of “doing it all.” Too often “doing it all” is based on how we compare ourselves to what we see others as  being and doing. It is forever allusive.” – Lisa Sabey


8) Just say no. To unnecessary activities. To extra stuff. #WorkLifeBalance.

Give yourself permission to say no. You’ll receive requests for your time at school, at work, at church, in your neighborhood, and a dozen other places. Saying no to something so that you can spend a Saturday morning making pancakes with your kids does not mean you’re lazy or unhelpful. This is your life and your time. Say no to the unnecessary.

This extends double to “things”. Every item you bring into your home will require you to store or maintain or otherwise decide what to do with it. Own less. Say no to extra stuff.

“I say no to about half of the social invitations we receive and this helps us to achieve more balance in our lives. At first I felt a tad bit bad doing this, but not anymore!”Ashlea Walter

“My biggest tip is to say no more often. No to all those extra activities. No to TV. No to more stuff. More peaceful time at home is more nourishing for us and leaves me with lots of free time.” -Ayme.


9) Prevent Internet-as-Blackhole. Schedule your online time the same way you schedule other work or entertainment. #WorkLifeBalance.

Don’t get online unless you actually have time to BE online. If you check your email in the middle of family dinner and find an urgent task, you’ll either have to leave the family dinner to attend to it, or try to finish the family dinner while feeling panic-ed about the urgent task. You’re probably getting online for work purposes or entertainment purposes. So, schedule your online time the same way you schedule your work time and entertainment time.

An exception to this is using the internet to look up directions. : )


10) Find an activity to call your own. Something you do to feed your soul. #WorkLifeBalance

It’s easy to forget yourself among your roles as employee, parent and spouse. Find a little something you can do regularly that’s just for you. Reading a novel. Taking a class. Whatever it is that reminds you: in addition to being an attentive spouse and hard-working parent, you’re also an interesting person.

“I think it’s critical that a mom has something in her life that has nothing to do with her kids or husband. For me, it’s a few things: writing, making jewelry, going to a book group. It’s something to look forward to when you are having a bad day (or week!).” – Sarah


I hope these thoughts will help jumpstart the conversation. Do they resonate with you? Do they remind you of anything you’ve learned when you consider Work Life Balance?

Read more about this series, and find five more tips for Work Life Balance in Part One here.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christina elaine September 7, 2011 at 10:07 am

I love this seris as a mom to a two year old and a 3week old this is something that has been overwhelming me. Thanks for sharing you tips.



2 megwrites September 7, 2011 at 10:09 am

My favorite is #7. I remember Angry Chicken did a post awhile back where she said that she tries to say “good for them” inwardly whenever she hears of someone else’s achievements, which I think is a great idea. I also like to buckle down and work on my own projects when I feel jealous of someone else. It helps me feel like I too am a creative and capable person.


3 Andrea@Fancy That! September 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

Saying “no” is something I’ve become great at. I don’t say no to everything, but I’m aware of my limitations. If I make a commitment, I need to be able to carry it out wholeheartedly and with excellence–which never happens if I’m trying to squeeze it in as an extra.


4 Ashley September 7, 2011 at 10:20 am

#6 & #7 just made my day :) thank you!


5 bettijo @ September 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

No. 9 is such a GREAT point — the internet can truly suck you in, and this happens to me far too often.


6 Katie September 7, 2011 at 10:28 am

This made my day – especially #6! I’ve recently decided to make a career change so I can embrace the season I’m in… parent of a young baby who is a mama’s girl and clearly needs me more than I expected. I’m sure in no time she’ll be running the other way but for now, I need to focus on work that will allow her to be in-arms or snuggled up nearby for a good part of each day – this is clearly what my girl needs and I know it won’t be forever. The big, competitive professional projects can wait a few months or even a few years.


7 elz September 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

Great points. I try to remember that I don’t have to be MY mom. I need to be my girls’ mom. In other words, just because mom could create gorgeous handmade costumes every year for Halloween doesn’t mean I have to. I’m doing things she never did and my girls will (hopefully) remember what I did that was special for them.


8 Corrina September 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

That’s a very good point! I compare myself to my mom too…who was a stay at home mom and I’m not…so my mothering is going to be different than hers.


9 Kellie@My So Called Green Life September 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

So happy to see Part 2 of this series today. I’ve been taking your tips from Part 1 to heart, especially the tip to focus on one thing at a time. My husband and I both tend to get frustrated when we’re “just trying to answer a few emails” but one of the kids won’t stop interrupting. It takes 30 minutes to answer the emails and help build a lego ship. If I focus on the child for 15 minutes first, then I get 15 uninterrupted minutes for email. Same amount of time, but much less frustration – and the kids get the full attention they crave. Parenting is certainly a skill one must continue to hone.


10 Mary September 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

All really great reminders! Finding “balance” requires constant vigilance. Thinking about how to apply each of these to my current life (mom of a 2-year-old and 4-year-old, full-time employee, wife…).


11 aimee @ smilingmama September 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

These are great. I especially like #6. Many of my moms-of-young-children friends and I lament (at times) our stepping back or out of the work force. But I always remind myself, and tell them, about a former boss (and one of my best bosses ever) who was at home with her children, re-entered the workforce when they were older, and eventually was in a dream job (that’s when she was my boss). As the saying goes, we can have it all, just not all at the same time!


12 heather September 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

Number 6…wow!! that really spoke to me! my oldest has been the only kid in school and most moms have 2 kids. i have an extra younger one and it has been a struggle…for myself, to have to say no to activities and also for the other moms/friends to “get” that my current state of family is not as get-up-and-go as there’s is.

now back to potty-training my baby! :-)


13 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag September 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

Embrace the season you are in …. what a lovely thought and one that is so easy to forget — thank you for the reminder!


14 Danae September 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

Just wanted to drop in and say “hi”. Your blog is such a great place to take a minute and read through. Such positivity and creativity.


15 Marta September 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

The a good one I’ve heard is “You CAN have it all — just not all at once.” But if most things are working, don’t beat yourself up over the one thing that isn’t. Right now, I accept that I won’t have a clean house or a completely toned body. I’ll get there in a few years (when the kids are finally in elementary school), and that’s okay. In the meantime, I am satisfied at work, I have happy, well-behaved kids, and a husband who still finds me attractive. That’s success enough for me right now.


16 Alison September 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

#6 is making me really happy. I think that’s the best advice anyone could ever give!


17 Erin September 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

So many of these things are common sense, but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in life and throw common sense out the window. Thanks for the reminders — keep them coming! XX


18 Ashlea Walter September 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

Really sinking into #6. Thanks for the reminder to BE where I am. NOW.


19 Valerie September 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

I’m not a mom yet, but as a married full time student and an manager at work I find all of these tip incredibly helpful. It’s so hard to say no! I’ll have to practice that one :-)


20 Jessie eivers September 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

Appreciate your current season of life, I love it! I stay home with my 3 year old son and I have a growing handmade sewing business so, while I am with him all the time, I am often sewing. No matter what, we always spend the hour before his bedtime in his room reading books, talking, playing pretend… I appreciate this time so much! Ending our day with no distractions, just enjoying each other…priceless.


21 Joanne September 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

Last night when I was tucking my daughter in, she said, ” Mommy, we need to spend more time together. You know, you are on the computer alot and I am always watching tv. We need to do more fun things together.” Wow! Was that an eye opener and how smart she is for 6! I cannot argue with her. If she is telling me that is what she needs, than that is what she needs. That is why #9 really resonates for me. I need to schedule my writing time for the times she is at school and leave time for the two of us when she is home. This can be difficult because we all know that inspiration can strike at any time. Quickly jotting down thoughts in a notebook and saving the work of the blog post for later can help remedy that. Or if you are really good, hold that thought, write it down


22 Dee September 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Numbers 7, 8 and 9 are what I most need to work on. I vowed to only get online during naps or after bedtime, but that never works out. I’m taking two classes online and I use that as an excuse to “just check my email” knowing good and well I will check twitter, facebook and flickr at the least. :-/


23 Chrysula September 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Gabby, the thing you taught me that has stayed with me the most in our interview last year is that it’s always changing. Every time we think we have “it” worked out, everything or everyone shifts, and you reconfigure it all over again. Louise’s quote on #6 is so spot on. Plan and dream for the future, yes. But be where you are, because it simply won’t be that way in a little while.


24 Alicia W. September 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I love all of these! I really need to work on scheduling my online time…it is so easy to get sucked into what is happening elsewhere online that makes me forget what I should be doing here and now! Speaking of which, this is my cue to get off the computer and get busy!


25 Geevz September 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Very well said! I love the not comparing ourselves to others the most. It is a sure fire way to bring yourself down, and often leads to more criticizing of other people too. It allows more room to rejoice with others and build self confidence. Thanks for doing this series. I think you said it all very gracefully.


26 Sarah September 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm

This series really hits home with me as a young mother with two children. Wrapping my head around how much my life has changed since having kids is something I feel like I’m beginning to embrace. Yours and Lousie’s point about “appreciating and embracing one’s current season in life” really hits home. It almost brings me to tears. It is so important, and becoming a parent has been such a whirlwind I think I have been both overwhelmed and afraid of the challenges. But it is such a relief to just exhale and embrace this season in life.


27 Zoe - SlowMama September 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

As a life coach who works with busy women, I love this series.

Something I put high on my list and recommend to others is to understand work-life balance not as a destination, but an ongoing process. Otherwise, just as soon as you think you’ve arrived, life throws a curveball and you’re scrambling and frustrated. Work-life balance is day-by-day… always changing. The goal is not to get there, but to BE there, if that makes sense.


28 melissa September 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Just wanted to say thank you for your blog, and especially this post! Its good to be reminded of prioritizing the right things in your life. As a mom of a 3yr old and 2yr old I often want to rush through this exhausting, all consuming part of motherhood. But its good to sit back. Relax. Enjoy the moment of being the most important person in these little girls’ world.


29 Ayme September 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

The internet really is a black hole, isn’t it? I’m so grateful for it yet it can completely derail my day without me even realizing it. Good talk, Gabby :)


30 Jodi September 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Honestly, I was having an anxiety attack this morning as I dropped Alex off for his first day of second grade and stayed after a bit to socialize with other parents. I was thinking “is balance really possible or does it just mean that I’m doing too many things, all of them imperfectly.”

I agree that the rule not to compare oneself is both important and impossible. But I am so lucky to have a network of working mommy friends who can talk me off the ledge when I cannot help but compare and these same fantastic women can make me laugh.


31 Lori Jo September 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I am loving this work life balance series. Lately I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the hats I am wearing. With three small children and a husband that has lived and worked 800 miles away for the past three years, I have not found any time that is my own. I have been wanting to take painting and baking classes, but just feel so guilty getting a babysitter and being away from my kids. My husband does come home one weekend a month and all I want to do is to be together as a family. So, #10 strikes a chord with me, I have so many dreams and so many things I like to do, but I NEED to make time to do something to call my own…. Thank you for reminding me!!


32 Kathleen September 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm

It made my day to see that you quoted me!


33 Veeh Cirra September 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I am not a mother nor am I married am abit young for both, reading this makes me appreciate my mother even more and all mothers in general. Great post.


34 sara September 8, 2011 at 1:44 am

#10 – raise the banner for #10. And #6. Amen to that. Wonderful series – thanks so much :)


35 Zsa Zsa September 8, 2011 at 2:44 am

Wow, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog! these are fabulous tips — very inspiring too! Will definitely share this on Twitter and FAcebook. Thank you!


36 Bri (like the cheese) September 8, 2011 at 6:24 am

Number Nine!!!
We recently ‘unplugged’ our house from the internet! It was exactly that – a black hole for our time and attention. UGH! Now that we have to intentionally seek out an internet connection (i.e. quick trip to the library or a wi-fi cafe), we are far more efficient about our use. We don’t have television either, so we’re not constantly bombarded with messages trying to convince us we need more stuff!


37 Amy3 September 8, 2011 at 7:56 am

These are great! I particularly like #6, #7, and #9. I recently read something Seth Godin wrote about what to do when something hasn’t gone the way you’d like and you’re inclined to beat yourself up about it. Just say “oh” and move on. “Oh” acknowledges the thoughts without encouraging more negativity toward yourself. It sounds almost silly, but it works!


38 Corrina September 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

I needed to read this! Thank you. Some of that stuff I’m good at, others I’m not. I’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed lately…time to get some more #worklifebalance in my life.


39 Eva September 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

#6, #7 and #10 especially spoke to me. Thank you for being able to tap into the collective mommy brain. I feel like you answered our questions before we even knew we had them.


40 kpriss September 14, 2011 at 12:14 am

More I’m growing into my life as a wife and mother of four I realize I have so much to learn! As if a new baby adds even more pages to that instead of falling on the “been there, done that” path!

I think the most important thing to do is be truth to yourself and realistic. Do you have any time to spend online? It’s important to give a straight and honest answer to that or any other question you address yourself. Setting your priorities and following them, in all flexibility, is one of the key attitudes to making it through life with kids with less clouds and tempests.

Love ya’ll soul sistaz out there!


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