It’s not Work-Life Balance, it’s Work-Life “Compromise”!

The ultimate juggler – that’s what I was at my peak achievement of “work-life balance”!  Now that I have the opportunity and space to reflect on what life was like when I was CEO with two young children, I realise that what many saw as an amazing achievement was in fact a delicate balance and compromise.

Juggler

Image credit – Helico via Flickr

I thought I had achieved the best of both worlds, having negotiated a four-day work week, had the kids in a crèche where they were comfortable and happy.  People would ask – how do you do it?  Little did they know that life at the time was run with military precision, otherwise everything collapsed.

My husband had a job that required him to be at work by 6am which meant that in the mornings, I was effectively a single mum.  I had to get a baby and toddler ready and out of the house by 6.50am so that we could get to crèche by 7am when the doors opened.  After a hurried goodbye, it would be a dash into the city.  Most days consisted of working through lunch so that I could leave at a reasonable hour to avoid the worst of peak-hour traffic.

Time at home consisted of dinner, washing up, laundry, baths, kids’ bedtime, followed by collapsing in bed from exhaustion so that I could start it all over again the next day.  Naturally, there was travel, extra hours, other work commitments in the mix.  To be perfectly honest, I think my husband and I did not have time for a decent conversation in three years.

What about that day off in my 4-day arrangement?  Interestingly, I have no memory of my days off!  My only recollection is of being so exhausted that I had to send the kids to crèche anyway.  I was powering through the rest of the week at such an intense pace, I actually needed the day off just to breathe.

A colleague had asked me before I accepted the CEO position – do you have the support networks to make this happen?  What he meant was in-laws, parents etc., (or wife if you are a man!).  Unfortunately, in my case, no on all fronts.

Is it possible to have work-life balance?

Instead of looking for balance, which implies two competing priorities, perhaps it would be more productive to aim for work-life integration?  This is my target.  I work less hours during a regular work day, but make it up at unusual times, but it doesn’t bother me because I love what I do and feel so passionate about it.  Contrast this to my high-flying career where I resented the mobile phone ringing after hours and resisted having a smartphone for as long as I could.  At the time, I just didn’t want work creeping into my life.  Now, it’s a welcomed part of my life.

So what do you think?  Do you have your own work-life balance story that you would like to share?

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I’m a business coach passionate about helping women make the impossible possible! Do get in touch. I would love to have a chat to see how I can help.

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Comments 2

  1. I agree that it is about doing what you love and integrating it into your life so that you have to time to include other things that you love as well. Nice article.

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