For a lot of us, juggling the demands of career and personal life can be a constant battle. Achieving a ‘work-life balance’ can often seem impossible – especially to those who strive to give 100% of themselves to everything they do.
I returned to work at the end of September after having my second baby. I knew returning to work wouldn’t be smooth sailing – see my ‘Mum-back’ series – and I’ve made no secret about being on Struggle Street these past few weeks. I didn’t quite get to the point of being burnt out, but I could have very easily spiralled down in that direction had I not taken active steps to keep myself in check.
It has been a couple of months, and I’m feeling much more settled at work. In addition, I’m finding my work incredibly rewarding and I’m particularly enjoying the adult interaction and using my law brain once again!
Of course, all of our circumstances are different. Work/life balance is exactly that, a balance of the things each of us value. But, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I’ve facilitated a work/life balance that have been incredibly beneficial to me.
In this day and age, more and more employers are offering flexibility in the workplace allowing employees to make arrangements that can suit them. While it may not be for everyone, I consider flexible working to be incredibly helpful to me in maintaining a work/life balance.
For starters, a big (and tiresome) part of my day is getting ready for work and commuting to the office. Now that we’ve added young kids to the equation, it’s a flurry of activity in the morning. The older 2 boys are fantastic and can do a lot of things themselves (even lending a hand to keeping the younger two occupied and distracted while my husband and I tend to our own personal care), but the younger two still require us to be very hands on with everything – nappies, getting dressed, eating breakfast. We then have to make sure all school lunches are made, feeds prepared for our youngest and breakfast for everyone before we leave the house. I’m feeling a bit frantic even just writing all of that down!
If I’ve got no meetings scheduled, I like to work from home because it saves me the hassle of getting ready for and commuting to the office. After dropping the kids off at school and day care, I can get a heap of work done in an empty house during working hours. I also increase my productivity generally as I can usually put on and hang out a load of washing between emails and calls and pop something in the oven in the mid-afternoon for that night’s dinner.
If your workplace is supportive of flexible working, it can really work in your favour.
My role requires me to collaborate with a lot of interstate colleagues. In the past, I was travelling interstate on a weekly basis. Even though Melbourne is technically an hour away on a plane, if I’m there for the day it’s guaranteed to be a big one. I’ll have to be out of the house at 7am to catch a flight and I’m usually home by about 8pm and absolutely knackered.
With the help of technology (and the understanding of my colleagues) a lot of meetings are now being conducted via video conferencing. Of course there are times where it is best to meet in person, and I won’t compromise attendance at those meetings if they’re important, but travelling less has been beneficial to me and my responsibilities at home.
Prioritise prioritise prioritise!
Giving priority to what’s important to you can inform how your day will play out. Unless I’ve got a deadline or something urgent to get out, I will prioritise leaving work to pick up the kids from day care and getting dinner on for my family. It means that I’m much more efficient during business hours. If I find myself in a good rhythm at work, I will usually duck out quickly to pick up some food for lunch (and a bit of fresh air) but will usually eat at my desk just to get things done and ensure I can leave on time.
My attendance at Friday night drinks is not as often as I’d like but I will still catch up with colleagues for coffee and lunches during the week. The trade off is more time at home with my young family which is at the top of my priority list.
Conversely, there are times where I consider work events and engagements need to be prioritised, such as work retreats, client dinners or conferences. These events are typically organised well in advance giving me enough time to ensure my husband can keep his schedule clear or coordinate care arrangements if we’re both tied up.
Scheduling in ‘me’ time
I’m still working part time, but on my ‘off’ days with my youngest, I will prioritise going out for walks with him and will kill two birds with one stone by listening to a podcast while he naps in the stroller. When the kids are in bed for the night, my husband and I like to unwind watching Netflix with our cups of tea and will usually read a book or magazine in bed before calling it a night – though lately I’ve developed a bad habit of just scrolling on Instagram on my phone before bed which doesn’t make for a restful transition into sleep.
As for ‘whatveewore’, finding dedicated time for it is still a work in progress. I’ll usually steal some time for ‘whatveewore’ by responding to emails or drafting blog posts when my youngest has his morning and afternoon naps (provided I’ve made good headway with the chores) or I’ll sit on the couch with my laptop on a Sunday afternoon while my toddler is mesmerised with The Wiggles on telly and I’ll quickly finalise a blog post (which may or may not be what is currently happening as I type!).
What are some of the ways that you’re achieving more of a work/life balance?
Thanks again for stopping by!
Shop my outfit
Knit (Uniqlo – here)
Trousers (Uniqlo – here)
Coat (H&M (sold out) | similar here and here)