In the first year after my daughter Lili was born, I went thru an identity crisis of sorts. I wanted so hard to retain a sense of self, yet everything had changed. Along with this battle came the real test of work-life balance. Oh sure – I had struggled with balance before having a child. But, when you throw one more factor into the equation (a child, a big move, a career shift, a death, a divorce, etc.) then work-life balance is really tested.
There was a common pattern of feeling like a failure in my life:
Me at my outside-the-home office: excited to be at work and out of the house, but also feeling really bad about not being with my kid
Me at home with kid: happy to have time to share with her, but also feeling really stressed about the 10 design revisions I had to email and the 5 orders that needed to go out in the same week
No matter where I was or, what I was doing, I felt like I was doing a BAD job. I felt like I wasn’t giving my all to my child. I felt like I wasn’t giving my all to my business.
It sucks to feel like you are underperforming in all areas of your life.
Have you experienced this?
This is work-life balance GUILT.
We feel guilty that we’re working. We feel guilty that we aren’t working.
We feel guilty that we are ‘having fun’ (taking care of child is not always fun… but, you get the point. ) We feel guilty that we aren’t taking advantage of the time to have fun with our children (or our significant other, or pets, or parents, or you-name-it.)
How do you get past this?
There are some things that I’ve learned and some things that I do to make this better. This doesn’t mean that I’m still not challenged with this. (I felt it this morning as I watched my 1 year-old on ‘internet TV’ at school.) But, I definitely don’t feel as much guilt as I used to or that I’m underperforming in all areas of my life. This is VERY freeing to me.
How I get past feeling guilty about work-life balance…
- Remind myself: “I’m fortunate to have this flexibility. Not all working parents get to have the time that I get to have with my kids.” And the experiences that my kids are having with other kids is one that I want for them too. On the flipside, I work hard and deserve to have time for myself and my family.
- Remind myself: “There will always be things left undone. There will always be items on my to-do list. There will always be more moments I could have had with my family.” Focus on the DONE, not the UNDONE.
- Focus on being present. When I’m at work, I work. When I’m with my family, I’m with my family. I sometimes have to trick myself into focusing. (Like: locking my laptop in a drawer on the weekends.)
- Know: Taking care of myself is JOB #1. I’ve learned that if I give myself one hour in the mornings for myself then I am able to focus better on my work. If I give myself 30 minutes at the end of my work day to wrap up loose ends and clean off my desk, then I’m able to focus better on my family. If I get enough sleep, food, and exercise, I’m a better business owner AND a better parent. I am the machine that runs everything and if the machine isn’t cared for, everything else suffers.
Tell me… how do you get past this feeling of guilt? Share with us in a comment below.