It’s Sunday afternoon in early fall. In New England, this is my favorite time of year. I gather my 12-year-old daughter and our annual apple picking tradition takes off. We spend the entire afternoon in the orchard. We pick a peck of apples, take more pictures than is reasonable or necessary, drink apple cider and scarf down apple cider donuts. We even manage to pick out a couple of perfect pumpkins. I completed my homework. I turned off my computer. I will not check my emails the rest of today. Because today is Sunday, and I’m picking apples with my daughter.
I balance my work and my life. My work provides a personal fulfillment and provides the income for my family, and my family fills my soul. The needs do not conflict, but balance.
I work full time and, for the benefit of my career, I further my education. I am a mother, a best friend, a sister, a daughter. I have a family. I have a career.
After years of fighting for women’s rights and equality, society decided that a woman could be a wife, a mother, and have a career. Then, economies changed and women working were not only socially acceptable, but financially necessary. Some will argue that work or educational pursuits are choices an individual makes. Some will argue working parents are a financial necessity. However that coin falls when flipped, studies suggest that if both life and career are out of balance, a person’s well-being will suffer. Parents work to take care of their family, but they also need to be with their family.
In order to obtain a balance, two things happen. First, my family supports my career goals. I do not work just because I need a salary; I gain a personal fulfillment from working. I realize that I am a role model for the children in my home. I love working and learning, and I hope to teach the value of work satisfaction to my children. With my family’s support and flexibility, my family stress is minimized. The second imperative is flexibility from my employer. My employer should respect my personal time and my dedication to my family. I will need to stay home with sick children. I will need to attend doctor visits, dance recitals, karate classes, and school performances. My work needs to get done, but I also need the freedom and flexibility to take care of my family.
I work for my family. My family works with me. My employer works with me. I work for my employer.
Does your employer provide a flexible work schedule? Does your employer offer health or wellness benefits? Does your employer offer childcare assistance? These are indicators of an employer interested in employee well-being. If you struggle to maintain a work life balance, consider the options. Advocate for change within your current organization. There is enough research to support the correlation between work life balance and employee productivity. If that does not seem like an option, consider the unemployment rate as of September 2018 at 3.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Start looking for other employers. Perhaps the grass is greener on the other side, after all.
When looking at potential employers, Glassdoor.com offers employee ratings and reviews to help decide if an organization is right for you and your family.
Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coca-Cola, tells us to remember the glass balls, when juggling life and work. Family, friends, faith, and health. Keep what is important first, the rest is replaceable.
3. Zheng, C, Molineux, J, Mirshekary, S & Scarparo, S 2015, 'Developing individual and organisational work-life balance strategies to improve employee health and wellbeing', Employee Relations, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 354-379.