by Ana Pérez
We have all heard the phrases “work-life balance” and “having it all”, but what we don’t hear are the unfiltered, unpretty truth from those in the trenches -what trying to create a balanced life actually looks and feels like. In this post, you will read the views of professional women -CEOs, single moms and those who are childfree by choice- on the notorious pursuit of “having it all.” Here’s what they said.
Work-life balance is not a static state that, once achieved, means you can maintain constant equilibrium. It’s always shifting. “What was ‘in balance’ for me 11 years ago before my daughter’s birth would throw me out of balance in today’s life”, says Aleasa M. Word, 45, a single mom of two, corporate employee. Quiana Murray, a business consultant, says: “The real key to balance is trying to determine what (or who) needs to be at the top of your list right now, today, and letting go of any judgment around that”.
For many working moms, work isn’t something they have to do, it’s an escape. Alison Podworski, 38, CEO and mom of three young girls, says that while her job is flexible, working in PR means working weeknights, weekends, and early mornings -but she loves it. “Sometimes I would rather be at a press conference or in the office than with my kids”, she says. It’s not that I don’t love them. I love my children more than anything in this world. But, for me, working is a break. There is no whining, crying, fighting, or drama. If any mother is going to say motherhood is blissful and wonderful all the time, I would like some of your happy pills.”
As already said on this blog, the idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first very much applies to finding balance, says Vicki Salemi, careers expert. “Women who seemed to achieve that golden work-life balance -or at least the vision of it- seemed to be ones who were less harried and had more of a sense of calmness because they focused on the foundation: themselves”, she explains. “They implemented self-care rituals like morning yoga classes. They were women on a mission, women with a plan, and that plan involved cutting themselves slack. This inner sense of peace and focus was able to carry through”.
Working moms are usually the focus when we talk about work-life balance, but not surprisingly, single women and those without children also struggle to find balance. Sociologist Amy Blackstone, says that, as a childfree person, one thing she never realized is that most people assume that the “life” part of work-life balance means “children”. “The idea that the childfree deserve balance just as much as their parent counterparts is overlooked by workplaces, policy makers, and, more generally, by most segments of our society”, she says. Those without children may also have additional “life” circumstances needing their attention.
“I always thought because I did not have kids I would never have to deal with work-life balance at all” , says Paige Arnof-Fenn, 49. “But the truth is, you still have the aging parents issue and chances are, like for my husband and me, you’ll take on the majority of that if your siblings did have kids. Also, in my case at least, I took on more responsibility at work and in the community, which leaves me less free time”.
The importance of setting boundaries. Vannessa Wade, 34, caretaker to her nieces and nephews, explains, “I bought into the myth that as a business owner I have to be on-call 24/7, when in reality I can set the standard on what works best for me and my situation. I’ve become more vocal about what works for me rather than always appeasing the masses, and you know what? It works”.
Read the full article “9 Things No One Tells You About Work-Life Balance” on Time.com