Career woman to career woman, wife and mother, that is what happened to me – as I am sure it has happened to many. In 1998 I was going to college and working as a waitress/manager at a restaurant when given the opportunity to work for a newly developed woman-owned company. Jumping at the opportunity, I couldn’t imagine that I’d spend the next twenty years helping to develop the company and advancing my career. After getting married in 2008, things began to change. I had someone else to consider in what time I would get home from work, what we would have for dinner and quite literally every decision in my life. Luckily, my husband knew just what it means to have a career and love what you do as he owns his own business (as well as being a full-time Firefighter/EMT). This understanding between us made the transition from “me” to “us” pretty easy.
In 2010, when we welcomed our first child, into the world, this transition was not as easy. Now I had a career and two people who depended on me, and one of whom especially needed a lot of attention - - no, not my husband. This was the crossroad: I knew I did not want to give up my career, so I had to figure out how to be a full-time wife, dedicated mother and still a dependable employee. After many months, maybe even a few years (and the addition of our second child) I finally figured out that I needed to run my family life just as I run my business life.
It is important to keep in mind that balancing career and home applies to everyone, not just people who happen to have significant others and children. Everyone has lives, interests and responsibilities outside of the office and everyone has a desire to manage both successfully. Below are some tips to keep in mind when tackling the hurdle of balancing career and home:
- Leave it at the door. Wow, that seems like an easy one. Walk out of work – leave everything there; walk out of the house, leave everything there. Of course, it isn’t easy at all. If you make an honest attempt, however, the goal is attainable. When you achieve this, it allows you to focus your attention where it is needed. To assist you in doing this you may want to read 4 Ways to Leave Work at Work by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
- Unplug to be present. If you don’t unplug, you can’t recharge. Interesting metaphor, right? This is so very true. The inability to unplug does not allow us to “leave it at the door.” As I mentioned above if you are always looking at emails, always answering the phone, looking at social media, etc., you are not giving your attention to what may be right in front of you and requiring your attention. I was taught about unplugging by my children – when they said, “Mommy, stop looking at your phone.” That was the wakeup call I needed to unplug and be present, especially during family time.
- Take time to re-refuel/re-energize. Over and over again you hear how important it is to take time to re-energize. Re-energizing is different for different people, but some of the most common ways to re-energize is to exercise, get a massage, turn in early for a good night’s sleep, or eat healthy. For me, it is calling an old friend and catching up or even coming up with a new routine to keep me focused. Just like a car, if you do not take the time to refuel, you end up running on empty!
- Use an app. I know there are a ton of applications out there for time management, managing sporting events, managing grocery lists, etc. As they say, “There’s an App for that.” My husband and I have been using a shared calendar. This allows us both to know where we and our children are or need to be by certain times. As I mentioned before, between the nighttime work required of his job and the busy days in mine, we sometimes go a few days without seeing each other. Working off the same calendar helps us stay connected.
- Develop a board of directors or a village. A board of directors is a group of people who you have identified as your biggest supporters – the people who have your back and are going to look out for you. Once I understood the function of a board of directors and how they could help my career, I started seating mine around the table. They have provided tremendous support in my career growth over the years and I realized a board of directors could help me at home too. In my home life, I have an amazing village that supports me and I can trust. The most supportive village will keep your best interests in mind, whether that’s family, health or anything else, pick a village who will help you see it through. My village is made up of the people who can come to my assistance when I’m feeling overwhelmed or need help with my children. If you don’t already have a personal support system, make this the first step in regaining control of that balance between career and home.
- Invest in your relationships. Have you ever had a rough day where you feel sensitive or prickly and you accidently offend others who you care about? The people in your life will forgive you- as long as you have built an emotional bank account with them. Stephen Covey refers to an emotional bank account as “an account of trust instead of money.” Just as with any account you begin with a zero balance and you make deposits and withdrawals. These deposits and withdrawals build or destroy trust in your relationships. When you have made lots of deposits with someone, your trust level with them is high and communications flow without effort. You can make a mistake or offend them, because you are able to withdraw from those deposits and maintain the relationship with minimal repercussions. The bottom-line: invest in your relationships.
- Protect your identify and reputation. Be mindful of what you post on social media. People are constantly looking at your social media and sometimes it isn’t the people you planned. Keep this idea in mind as you post. One idea for managing your online reputation is to use LinkedIn for business contacts and Facebook for family and friends.
Juggling a thriving career and a busy personal life is a balancing act. With careful planning, a strong village and a willingness to take care of yourself during busy times you can have it all-- a successful career and a happy home!
ASK A MENTOR
As you begin to explore ways to successfully balance career and home, talk to your mentor about the good and bad experiences they’ve had and how they have been successful at both. Here are some questions to get you started:
- How do you balance career and home?
- Do you feel you are successful? If so, what tips or advice do you have?
- If not, what adjustments are you making to be successful?
- Are there any time management systems you use?
- What are your favorite apps?
- Time saver ideas?
- What steps do you take to leave your work at work and home at home?
- What do you do to “unplug”?
- How do you practice being present?
- Who makes up your village?
- How do these individuals help you balance career and home?
- How do you invest in your relationships? How do you make deposits?
- How do you recover from a withdrawal?
- How do you protect your reputation?
- Are you mindful of what you are posting?
- Will your posts offend others?
- How do you separate home from work?