Even before I had a kid, I hated the term “work-life balance.” When you don’t have kids, you aren’t even really allowed to comment on the topic, even though you don’t need to have a kid to constantly struggle to figure out how to keep your house clean and meals made when you’re on a business trip every other week, pulling 12 hour days chasing a deadline, caring for aging parents or anything else that requires a lot of time and energy. Add a kid to the mix and it all of course becomes much more complicated, but even before I knew what it was like to be a WOHM mom, I fully believed that there really is no such thing as “work-life balance.” The best you can expect, regardless of whether you work at home, outside the home or are a stay-at-home parent, is finding a comfort zone where some things have to happen all the time, some things can happen some of the time, and others just have to give until there’s free time (hah!); what those things are will depend entirely on your and your family’s priorities.
This week marks exactly a year since I returned to work after 3 and a half months of maternity leave, and I found myself thinking about our work-life comfort zone – how it’s grown, shifted and stabilized over this past year. Different things will work for different people, of course, but here are some things that helped us find this zone.
1) Figuring out what’s important to you is key. For example, I get extremely unsettled and actually lose sleep and get anxious if my house isn’t at a certain state of clean. I’m by no means a neat freak – the dust bunnies in my long untouched corners will attest to that – but there’s a level of clean that I need to maintain in order to stay sane, which means some of my precious little free time needs to be allocated to getting to that level of clean. I straighten up Baby C’s play areas and dishes from her dinner every evening while Mr. Carrot gives her a bath. Every weekend we do all the laundry from the week and Mr. Carrot and I vacuum and do some dusting and neatening up in between entertaining a lively toddler.