I wrote a post on Facebook about his huge pile of laundry and how it would likely never get put away. It seems like a lot of you can relate, and your comments have me thinking a lot about work-life balance.
It’s an issue that comes up often. Actually, it comes up all the time. It came up earlier this week when I was at the Y for an instructor education session. I ran into my boss and she said, “Gosh you’re busy. How are you doing all of this?”
Every time I’ve done a speaking engagement since Michael Francis was born, someone in the audience (usually a mom) will ask about work-life balance. Several months ago, I went into one of these talks especially sleep deprived, stressed out and unprepared so when THE QUESTION was asked, I sort of lost it. I blurted out, “There is no such thing as work-life balance! My life is a s%@t show!”
A few people gasped. Most laughed. A few clapped. The woman who asked the question who was six months pregnant with her first child looked puzzled at first. Then a grin spread across her face. I could see a huge weight lifting off her when I said, “This is B.S.! No one is doing it all and doing it perfectly. The people who say they are, are liars!”
It’s usually working moms who make these comments or ask these questions, but this isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to those of us in “The Working Mom Club”. Practically everyone I know struggles with this idea of “work-life balance”. I don’t know who came up with the concept, but I will reiterate that I think it is ridiculous.
In my opinion you can’t “have it all” or “be it all” all the time.
I used to try.
I’d say, “Yes” to every request that came my way. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off; reading to kids, raising money for non-profits, serving on volunteer boards, emceeing events, speaking at events, picking up extra classes at the Y, turning all sorts of stories for Channel 13 that meant coming in early and staying late and working through my dinner breaks. I was a HOT MESS. I was definitely doing it all, but oftentimes I was doing it in a pretty mediocre way. I was miserable and I was making a lot of people around me miserable.
In the midst of this insanity a colleague gave me a book called, “Hell, yes!” It’s written like a children’s book and the premise is simple…before you agree to a request, as yourself…Is it a "Hell yes!"? If not, then it's a "Hell no!" -- so don't waste your time with it. I didn’t start taking that advice until recently, but it’s changed my life.
Now I say, “No.” a lot.
I still emcee events and do speaking engagements and volunteer but I only do these things for what I call, “my babies”. They’re organizations and efforts that focus on issues that are important to me because of my personal experiences. Things like adoption, infertility, helping girls and women, and health and wellness. I still turn some stories, but most ideas (even the really good ones) I pass on to our reporters.
My number one priority right now is my family. I’ve waited a long time to have the personal life I have now and I’m not going to miss out on it. If that means some people are disappointed in me or others think I’m “slacking” in certain areas of my life, so be it. That’s another lesson I’ve finally learned – you can’t make everyone happy.
By the way…I got the laundry put away LESS THAN 24 HOURS after I folded it.
Every. Single. Thing.
Not because I suddenly mastered that nose-wiggling Samantha magic or because I suddenly became super organized and figured out how to “do it all”.
The laundry is put away because my MIL stopped by to play with her grandson.
And this raises another point…we all need help sometimes!
Give yourself (and everyone else) a break.