I used to think this concept of finding the perfect work/life balance was a goal I should be striving to reach. Now I know, it doesn't exist and the idea that it does is killing us.
Sound dramatic? Maybe. But think about it. Have you ever felt like you were fairly splitting your time between being present with your family and being an A+ employee at work?
The reality we live in today is that work takes up way too big of a chunk of our time. We have to work longer hours to make ends meet. We take work home with us now because we're expected to always be 'plugged in'.
If you're not answering emails/calls from home, you're not going to be considered for a promotion at best or you'll slowly be replaced for someone who will at worst.
And God forbid you have a circumstance at home that requires your undivided attention. You better hope it doesn't last more than a day, cause that's the max amount of time you're comfortably given to 'handle it'. After that, the understanding environment at work quickly deteriorates.
And so do you. You know your work is piling up while you're home and while you're at work, you know your family's needs aren't being met.
I find it's almost impossible to have a perfect balance so what I choose to do instead of searching for it is accept it.
I've spent too many years and too much energy feeling guilty. I'm guilty when I'm working and I'm guilty when I'm home. And it's never given me the peace I've needed.
Both family and work suffer when you're stressed. Both suffer when you're guilty and both suffer when you're constantly searching for something that doesn't exist. You become resentful of both.
Instead, when I'm at work, I'm at work. If a family issues arises, I handle it. When I'm home, I'm at home. If a work issue arises, I handle it.
And when those 'issues' lean more heavily in one direction than the other, often times for a while, I try not to stress. I know the tide will turn soon enough to the other side and this will repeat, over and over.
Life is too short to be keeping score with your own shortcomings.
What your family really needs, is someone who's not always somewhere else when they're right there in front of you.
What your employer needs, is an employee who's focused, productive and not making mistakes because of outside distractions.
My realization about the work/life balance theory is that there's no balance at all.
It's a pendulum and in order for all of us working parents to stay sane, you have to let the pendulum swing.