My never-ending quest for work-life balance

As a working mum, I am very conscious of the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  I love my job and, if I let it, work can very easily consume all my spare time. Working from home makes it that much easier to quickly log-on and do a few bits and pieces.

I learned very quickly that work-life balance looks very different once you have children.  Before I had my daughter it was easy to dedicate a certain number of hours to work and the rest for leisure; but things aren’t that simple with young children. Children, especially babies, needs are constantly changing, which means the quest for balance can seem somewhat never ending.  Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, the scales shift and something needs to change.

My (never-ending) quest for work-life balance

Working full time with a newborn

I had two weeks off work after my daughter’s birth. After a week at home, I found myself getting bored and wanted to start working again. (Side note – I had a very content newborn with no health issues. She would wake, feed, and go back to sleep. All my friends and family work, so I didn’t have lots of visitors.)

I started working from home during Lilly’s naps, doing doing a couple of hours here and there, but quite quickly went to five or more hours a day.

‘I’ve found the balance’, I thought.

But I hadn’t. After a couple of weeks I felt isolated and lonely. I didn’t like being in the house by myself all day. If I was working I wanted to be in the office where I could interact with people.

So that’s what I did. I went back to work at the office and took Lilly with me. Before long we were going in five days a week and I was working close to full time hours.

Part-time work

When Lilly was three of four months old I decided that I needed to re-think my work-life balance. She was awake for longer and I wanted to spend more quality time with her without being constrained by my work commitments.  I was also starting to get tired of the routine – wake up, get ready, travel, work, travel, bath, bed – and wanted some more flexibility.

I cut my working days down to three per week and had two days at home as ‘Mummy and Lilly days’, as I like to call them. We enrolled in Gymbaroo, swimming and went to Rhyme Time at the local library. I started going to mother’s group. It was great.  ‘I’ve got the balance right now!’ I thought, and I did have for a while; but, of course, it shifted again.

Not enough ‘me’ time

After about four months of this routine I felt fed up.  I had got into the habit of working every evening and I wasn’t making any time for myself.  I enjoy working and it was far more productive to use my evenings working than watching the telly, but productivity isn’t everything and I needed some time out.  I also felt disconnected and wanted to meet more like-minded parents. That was when I started this blog. I now spend far fewer evenings working and many more on this blog and I feel much more balanced.

Even more flexibility

The long-term plan is that Lilly will stay with my husband for two days a week and my mum one day a week while I work.  My new focus is working on a transition towards this plan, so I am now working from home for one full day per week while my mum looks after Lilly.  Luckily my mum’s house is less than a 2 minute drive from my house so I can pop over and breastfeed Lilly, comfort her, or just play with her if I feel like it.

Sure, my work-life arrangements have changed a lot over the last 10 months, but I have felt balanced at each step of the way. The point is that our lives are constantly changing. Balance is not a static thing. The scales will shift and we need to remain mindful of the changes and ask ourselves if the status quo is still working for us.


6 COMMENTS

  1. Amy @ HandbagMafia | 14th Jan 17

    You’re very lucky to be able to be so flexible with your work! Good on you for working out what suits your family’s needs.

  2. Jeannette | 16th Jan 17

    Very few corporations make it easy to have a work life balance as a mom. I left corporate as I just became burnt out from trying to be a good mom and corporate citizen. Good luck on your quest. #globalblogging

  3. One Messy Mama | 18th Jan 17

    I must admit. After 2 years of being at home, I can feel the tug of wanting to go back to work. I also want to be there for my kids, So I guess I am in a transitional place. This was a good read for someone that is in the same place I am. It has given me lots to think about! #globalblogging

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 18th Jan 17

      Ohh maybe you can consider taking your new baby to work! Thanks for the lovely comment. Good luck, it’s not easy working out what is best for everyone!

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