I don’t like the phrase work life balance. I know it is a common and widely understood term and I get what it is supposed to mean. I constantly work on trying to make the different pieces of life fit together. I just don’t find the term very helpful. It makes me think of a see saw. It suggests that work and life are opposites – divided and in opposition to each other.
It’s feels like quite a precarious image. It suggests that there is only one magical point where everything is in equilibrium. One step to either side and everything is out of kilter. It also suggests, to me anyway, that things are linear and that there is only one way to do things.
I have three kids a husband, a job, my blog, a family business and various other things in my life. My days are definitely not a finely balanced see saw with everything getting equal time and attention.
If I have a big project or deadline work will be a priority. Some days work doesn’t even enter my head as I enjoy my daughters class assembly, do messy play or look after one of my boys who is poorly.
Sometimes I compartmentalise things. I’m lucky that I have cast iron childcare arrangements so when I need to I can totally focus on work. I’m also very fortunate that I have the type of job that I can do quite flexibly. Although I realise that working part time and not always in office hours has an impact on my career. There are also benefits of my husband being self employed. He can be flexible with his schedule around school plays and sick children (although time spent not working does have a direct financial impact).
Sometimes the components of my life are all mashed together. I might think over a work problem while pushing the twins in their pram. I’ll have ideas during my working day for things to do with Sofia.
I’m really trying to think of a phrase that better sums up the blend of work and life for me.
To stick to playground images my experience feels more like a sandpit than a see saw. There is a finite number of hours and energy in my day (the edges of the sand pit). There are lots of different interests, responsibilities and tasks thrown in (that’s the sand). It is all mixed together or carefully made into separate piles of sand. The whole thing is constantly shifting and being shaped in different ways. I like the idea that when it is not working you can mix it all up again and try a different approach.
I guess you could call it finding a work life blend.
What are your thoughts on work life balance? Does life feel like a see saw or a sandpit to you? How do your make the components of your life fit together?
I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.