Balancing work and home life can be a real challenge at times.
Add in motherhood, and it can get downright crazy. I would know – I just welcomed my fourth baby into the world a few short months ago. My oldest is 5 years old.
I’ll be honest, most days I feel like I’m running in circles, just trying to keep up with everything.
I’m not sure I would consider myself an expert in balancing work and life, though I continue to work toward that balance. Over time, I have been attempting to identify which things help me stay balanced. I wouldn’t consider this a list of things that work for everyone. We all find ourselves in different circumstances. We come from different backgrounds, have different personalities.
Still, I would love to share some things I have found helpful so that others can take them into consideration as well.
Support from others
One of the biggest contributors to my success at work and home are the people who support me. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who supports me at home. Because he is self-employed, he was able to adjust his schedule so that he could be home with the kids three days a week. We have been able to work together as a team to keep the house running. He cooks, I wash laundry. He gets the kids ready in the morning, I put them to bed at night.
At work, I am blessed to have supportive leaders in my department and in my company as a whole. My boss has a toddler at home too, so he is very understanding when I need to adjust my work schedule around family obligations. I have found that working with supportive bosses makes my job much more enjoyable and encourages me to be a better employee.
One of the best things about my job is the flexibility. I live almost an hour away from the office, but my company allows me to work from home two days a week.
Because I’m set up to work from home, I can also adjust my schedule to work from home if one of my children is sick. On days when I am in the office, I can still leave in time to be home for dinner and then get extra work done after I put the kids in bed.
Although working from home can provide additional flexibility, it can also be a challenge at times. For a while, my husband was going in to his business one day a week while I worked from home with the kids. Honestly, that was difficult to manage. Small children love to interrupt. I was often making up for the interruptions by working at night or on Saturdays. Over the summer we had a babysitter come by in the mornings to watch the kids for a few hours until nap time. That was a huge help. Eventually we were able to get the younger kids into daycare two days a week so that I could have a quiet house in which to work.
The Farabee family (Dad was sick when the picture was taken).
Photo credit: Nicole Williams of Memories for Keepsake.
These days it seems so easy to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We are constantly bombarded by images of perfect family moments – whether in social media, or magazine covers or television commercials.
Christmastime is the perfect example. We send each other cards with nice little family photos of everyone smiling and cheery. It is easy to forget about the dozens of photos leading up to that one – with mama bear yelling, “Smile!!” and children crying or squirming while dad blinks.
It’s easy to go into motherhood (or fatherhood) with the best of intentions. We tell ourselves all kinds of things. “I’m not going to feed my kids fast food. Or let them eat sugar. I’m going to read to them every night. I’m not going to let them watch TV until they are 10…”
Real life is messy and crazy. Real life is full of dirty dishes and laundry that needs folding. Cars break down and people get sick. Working moms and dads have deadlines to meet, conferences to attend, data to analyze and reports to write.
There comes a point when we have to let go of the perfect family we dreamed up in our heads and instead live in reality.
Some days it’s just better for everyone if we just go through a drive-thru on the way home from work. Or maybe we need to turn on a movie for the kids while we finish writing that report at home.
Lately, I have been learning that balancing work and family requires letting go. I am letting go of my desire to have a neat and tidy house. Instead, I focus on enjoying the pitter-patter of little feet running around the house and the giggles bouncing off the walls.
I’m learning that I need to live more intentionally. That means setting priorities and saying “No” to things that will distract from what is important. When my oldest was born, I didn’t want to miss a minute with her. I desperately longed to stay home; however, that was not an option. Now, I appreciate having a career outside of the home. I love the projects I get to work on when I’m in the office. And, because I’m not constantly with my children, I find that I am able to enjoy my time with them more fully.
Kelly is a senior traffic specialist at Wolverton – a CHA company in Savannah, Georgia. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, and a graduate of Clemson University and U.C. Berkeley, she now resides outside Savannah with her husband, four children, two dogs and a cat. She is currently serving as president of the ASCE Savannah Branch and works as a practitioner advisor for the Savannah State University student chapter of ASCE. Whenever possible, Kelly enjoys baking, camping and road trips with the family.