As females, we are always asked how we juggle our work & home life, and it struck me recently that although Ruairi and I both work together, live together and have 2 children together, I’m sure he has not been hit with the same question. In fact, after writing this, I asked him, and his blank expression gave me the answer I expected. Not once.
As a mother of two young boys, I am all too aware of how challenging it can be to juggle things so in honour of Mother’s Day, I wanted to discuss work life balance and how to strike a healthy balance.
I have always been an organised person, and never has it been more essential, yet challenging. However hard I try to get ahead, I always feel on the back foot. Aside from that little slice of time, just after you have tidied up, got the kids to bed, finished your emails and got the snacks sorted for the next day… that little glimmer of peace and calm when you’re winning. But then, just as you’re settling into bed your phone beeps, your emails come in from overseas customers, your brain starts whizzing on overdrive about new designs and ideas, and before you know it you’re up again and being awoken to the screams of ‘Mummy I’m awakkkkkeeee’ coming from the next room. And so it begins again.
I sometimes wonder whether working for yourself when you technically have the freedom to say no, work around your own schedule, and being in control are a blessing or a curse. I almost always come to the decision its a blessing. Albeit, it’s challenging to juggle things when you care so much about your business but inevitably your family come first. Would it be easier if I had a 9-5 job that when I closed the door on, my mind was free to ponder over what I should cook for dinner for the boys, or what size nappies they are now in. Im not sure it would be, because I think this is just me. Whether I work for myself or someone else, I think I have always tried to go the extra mile, as I know so many of my peers do the same. Always striving for more and wanting perfection from home to business and back again. But I’m not sure it’s actually achievable.
I think we need to know when to switch off. Be proud to say no, I’m taking my lunch break today or im having a rest. Its something I have battled with my whole working life, but since having children have got much better at stopping to prioritise them. I work so much more efficiently now and know that I can no longer procrastinate about things in the same way I used to. I think as parents, and in business, Ruairi and I are very lucky that we work incredibly well as a team. We juggle things around the needs of the boys and a desire to prioritise time with them while they are small and before school comes along and they no longer want to spend time with us!
‘Work life balance’ is a funny phrase, I think when we prioritise one over the other inevitably it tips the scales and we feel the other is suffering, but I think thats just it, it will waiver from side to side within the course of days and weeks – if we have a deadline, an issue at work or a trade show abroad then work is going to take our attention away from our family for a bit. While I don’t like this, we make sure we tip the scales back the other way and get back that quality time we would have missed. When life tips us back the other way and one of them is sick, or in need of some one on one time, its top of the list and inevitably work gets put on the back burner. I guess thats just it, its not ever completely balanced day to day, but overall we strive to ensure that while we want (and need!!) to make sure we have a successful business that can sustain our family, its essential we balance that with raising our boys our way and with us. We are lucky we have family close by that help out and we often crack on with work well into the evening to catch up that time lost during the days, so other than being some what exhausted sometimes, thats how we make it work for us.
I think our generation are sometimes guilty of glorifying overworking and enjoy revelling in that exhausted drive, run on caffeine and ambition, but what stands out to me now, and what I really respect is when someone says I’m taking some time out, I’m cherishing my family, I’m taking a back seat for a while. While I’m only really able to speak about my industry and peers, so forgive me if this is completely inaccurate of your industry or attitude, but it stands to me that while we might get a bit less actual time, we should be proud to work smarter when we have a family to juggle rather than guilt trip ourselves over that reduction in time spent in the office.
Whether you juggle your own business, or work for a company where you have had to negotiate early finishes in order to do the school run, or however you manage to juggle your work and life, I am sure of one thing. Since becoming a parent, I am much better equip to juggle and multitask and get the job done more efficiently than my former procrastinating self with far too much time to ponder over the smallest of decisions. If only I knew then how much I could actually get done in a day if I had to! Our work life balance is a constant seesaw, with all its unexpected ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Since writing this blog post, the world has been consumed by coronavirus, so I suspect your Mother’s Day plans may have some what changed. Try to remain positive, use the digital channels available to speak to your loved ones, and cherish the time with your families where you can. Im looking forward to spending the day with my boys, we hope to head out to the forest for a walk and a picnic as the pubs off limits! Im also planning some time to design tomorrow so I can get some new Positive Vibes cards out there as soon as possible….
Stay safe everyone, Happy Mother’s day,