Work life balance for moms seems like an impossible mouthful. This blog explores how I feel about the term “work life balance” and what you should be focusing on instead.
What is work life balance
Work life balance is described as a state of being where you’re enjoying life outside of work, while also achieving success at work.
Did you watch my video on this topic? I go live on instagram and facebook weekly to chat about business challenges and share tips for entrepreneurs. If you ever miss a video, you can catch the replay on my facebook page here.
Here is the episode talking about work life balance:
What the numbers say
I asked my audience if they felt like they had work life balance. A whopping 75% answered “no”, which is consistent with the study by Nancy Lockwood where 70% of people said they don’t have a healthy balance between their personal and work lives.
The study further states that 85% of women placed family at the top of their work/life priorities. The most shocking to me was the fact that 90% of men and women were concerned that they don’t spend enough time with their family. If family is at the top of our priorities but we’re also concerned that we’re not spending enough time with our family, does this mean we have failed at work life balance? Does this mean we are hugely successful at work? And where does our happiness lie on this spectrum?
I can describe my thoughts on work life balance in two letters: BS.
We are living in the digital age. Even if you’re not replying to emails after “work hours” you’re still seeing them. That’s valuable cognitive space that technically means you’re working.
And if you’re a work from home mom who uses nap time as “office hours”, you most definitely:
may die trying,
to achieve any sort of balance in your life.
Why I don’t like the term work life balance
The definition of balance is “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”.
I like to think of balance as being in “tree pose” (yoga). Tree pose is a pose where you balance on one foot, while keeping calm and focused. The idea is that you are able to sway gently like a tree in the wind, while remaining steady no matter what the outside circumstances may be.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty stressful (and impossible) to me. If you have a big project deadline in a few hours, but your child just got a fever – how do you balance? If your spouse has a graduation party that is scheduled at the same time as an important work trip – how do you balance? If you have an important client call and your child is inconsolable – how do you balance?
The honest answer is, you don’t.
Sometimes you choose work and sometimes you choose family. And if you’re being true to your values and your priorities, you would more often choose your family.
I truly think whoever came up with the term work life balance was further advancing the ideal that one can “have it all” if they just tried harder. This person clearly did not have children.
Lessons from the Prophet
In a blog post by Mohammed Faris of Productive Muslim, he shares key lessons from the life of the Prophet (SAW) that help shift the focus from work life balance to total life balance:
By focusing on the right of others, it becomes (a little) easier to make decisions about circumstances. Let’s take the example above about the big project deadline in a few hours, but your child has a fever. You have a responsibility to your employer to finish the project by that deadline. You also have a responsibility as a parent to take care of your child. Whether that means you tend to your feverish child while finishing the project, or get some help with the child just so you can finish, it makes the decision clear and less guilt-ridden.
The only way forward is to set clear priorities for work and life. Start with something simple like 3 priorities each and ensure you do 1 from each category each day.
I created this minimalistic daily planning worksheet that makes it easy to visualize your priorities, while also giving you the satisfaction of checking tasks off when they’re completed. I like to print 1 copy and put it in a frame so I can use a white board marker to update it daily or weekly with my personal and professional priorities.
Your personal and professional priorities could be simple. Spend 1 hour of quality time with your children, while also completing a blog post for work. They could also be complicated. Making a fresh, healthy and nutritious dinner after putting in some overtime at the office.
It doesn’t seem as overwhelming when you focus on just completing 1 priority from each list. But it does seem satisfying and might I say, “balanced”. Seeing your priorities on a visual planner, like the one I’ve created as a free download, also helps with accomplishing your goals.
Tips for Moms
In my video, I shared some tips for moms on how to focus on priorities and ultimately, their happiness. I also mention this amusing, yet informative, blog post by Dana Brownlee that hilariously describes 4 working mom work-life balance personalities. I encourage you to take a look at the blog. Determine which category you fit into so you can apply her tips.
Here are some of the best tips I’ve ever been given:
- Schedule your work day around prayer times and wake up for Tahajjud and Fajr for the most productivity;
- Use your child’s nap times as your “office hours”; and
- Be adaptable because each day will bring a new challenge or schedule change because #momlife.
I hope this blog has helped you change your thinking from work-life balance to prioritizing and fulfilling the rights of others around us. You can download the free planner printable here.
If you have an idea for a future blog or video topic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you’d like to work together on your business or business idea, you can sign up for a coaching session here.