Becoming a master juggler
by Michele Majul-Ibarra
We play many different roles in our lives. We are employees, spouses, caregivers and volunteers of our community. In addition, we also have to take care of our own well-being both physical and psychological. For most moms, the work/life balancing act is even more challenging and viewed to be almost impossible.
According to Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby and Family Finance: The Essential Guide for Parents, studies have shown that the majority of mothers who work outside the home experience a chronic time crunch. In other words, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
Ann Douglas, who also happens to be a Canadian psychotherapist had the opportunity to interview more than 150 women who were attempting “the ultimate of juggling acts,” balancing life and family, in other words. These women shared dozens of practical strategies for juggling work and family such as little things like forcing oneself to take some downtime when you’ve been frantically multi-tasking all day. Some of the “sanity savers” she learned from these tips for staying sane are as follows:
Set reasonable working hours and stick to them
She indicated that it is important not to let anyone make you feel guilty for turning off your corporate phone or walking away from our computer. We have the right to a personal life.
Learn to cut corners on things that don’t matter
Ann Douglas advises to give yourself permission to delegate tasks to someone else. For most moms like myself, my husband and I do not have the luxury of delegating chores to someone else. We pretty much do everything that we need to do at home, whether it’s yard work, laundry, vacuuming, etc. And because we are the only ones in charge at home, we have to take turns on these matters as required. Others hire professional cleaners. Another thing that could be done is to do just enough chores to keep you from going crazy. Even if you do not have time to clean, do it anyway but do not overdo it. Another thing is to keep in mind that it is not mandatory to make meals from scratch every single time!
Take care of you
This means taking care of our own needs instead of relying on others to take care of us. Ann Douglas says, “this is one job you simply can’t delegate”. According to her study, the ultimate weapon against the craziness around us is to keep our sense of humour.
“How do you do it?” is one question I get asked when folks recognize the challenge I have as a working mom. It really is simple and similar to any other moms out there, I wake and go to work every single day. It does not, however, end there. As soon as I get home, I prepare our supper, feed the kids, get the kids ready for bed, read bedtime stories and say our prayers. When there is a small of window of time, my husband alternates with me on some days to allow me to have some me time in the gym. On the weekends, I spend my time contributing my talents to the community and my church.
Again, it does not end there either. Apart from the demands of family life, I am also required to travel on business from time to time, which adds to the many responsibilities that I juggle both as a mom and a career woman. One thing that I find very helpful is going on one-day business trips instead of staying overnight. This allows me to maximize my time at work without minimizing my time with my family. Another thing that I find very helpful is combining business with pleasure when the opportunity presents itself. A month ago, my husband and children accompanied me on a business trip. It was wonderful as I was able to go to work and at the same time I was able to spend some quality time with my family.
At the end of the day, what we do at work and for our employer are not tombstone worthy. Think of it this way, when we pass on, our tombstone won’t say, “Employee of Company XYZ for 30 years.” Instead it will say, “Loving mother and grandmother” or “Father of five lovely boys.”
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life” – Hillary Rodham Clinton
This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.
Michele Majul-Ibarra is an HR Professional. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Human Resource Management. She also holds the C.I.M. professional designation (Certified in Management). E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.