Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? For parents it can be hard, and it seems that for us moms, it’s even harder. We feel we can’t be everything to everyone and at times no one gets our best, especially ourselves.
In 2011, I had just married the love of my life and had a high pressure job that felt like an absolute rat race. I was working 50-60+ hour work weeks and my new husband and I were merely passing in the night. I was getting more and more run down, but this relentless pace was all I knew to expect from the professional world. I have always been an extremely hard worker; I hold myself to what I now know to be often impossible standards. The combination of a perfectionist mindset and high-pressure work environment often results in burnout, and I burned out HARD. I had to walk away from the insanity for my mental and physical health, and I did not have a backup plan. I just walked away and that is something I DO NOT DO. I knew that if my husband and I ever wanted to have a family and actually enjoy that family, I could not work the way I was currently working.
I did some soul searching and hired a career consultant, Kathleen Siegmann at Career Investments, to help me figure out what was next. She actually hired me to work for her at Career Investments for a year and in that time she helped me see that I wanted to start my own small business. I needed to call the shots in my own life. It was essential to protect myself from my addiction to stress, chaos, and personal imbalance. With Kathleen’s help and guidance, I started Simply Helpful.
I now work to help other small businesses and organizations minimize their chaos and take action items off their plate so they can focus on their most important work. I call myself the Chief Stress Reliever. I work three days a week with my clients, and I stay home with my two boys the other two days a week. I get the best of both worlds and it’s a win/win situation for my family and me.
You may be asking yourself if this blog post is a shameless plug for my company. The honest answer is no. It’s a plug for looking beyond obvious career options. I know that before I met Kathleen, I only thought my options were to work full time or to stay home with my kids and that there was no middle ground. I wanted a middle ground but I needed it on my terms, so I made my own rules. My husband and I have had to make financial sacrifices and lived some really lean years to make it all come together, but it was so worth it! I don’t miss cable, and I sure love seeing my family more than my clients or co-workers. I also know that staying at home full-time with my kids is not an option for me. I need to work outside of the home and part-time work is what works best for my family and me.
If you find yourself trapped in any situation in life and you think you know all of the options but hate them all, I encourage you to keep looking. Perhaps even hire a professional to help you look into all of the options out there. Never settle in life, love or your career. Keep looking, keep researching and make your happiness because chances are, it’s not just going to land in your lap.
It’s been five years since leaving the job I let rule my life. Since then I have found a much healthier balance, though I see glimmers of my workaholic addiction peek in at me from time to time. I keep it at bay, because I know balance is key for me and for our family. I turn away work inquiries or requests for volunteer positions because it might threaten that equilibrium I hold so dear. It’s much like a diet or healthy living in all senses, in that moderation is key. I have to actively keep the chaos at bay and I have to say no to requests to do more, more, more. The balance is certainly not there 100% of the time but by actively managing my time and personal expectations, it is light-years different than the chaos of five years ago and I’m going to continue to work to keep it that way. I am truly the happiest I have ever been. I feel strong and confident in the choices I have made and continue to make, and that’s worth more than any dollar amount.
This is the first post in a series of posts about minimizing the chaos at home. Follow along as I discuss tools and tips on reducing domestic stress. Future posts will include topics on meal planning, grocery shopping, budgeting, house cleaning and decluttering and more.