Even those of us who are fortunate enough to have flexible work schedules and amazing support systems, do not feel balanced. Are we supposed to picture the traditional two-sided scale and try to get the sides to even out?
With my WORK on one side and LIFE on the other, how can it be balanced? Some days I work way too many hours, or go on a business trip that causes all other tasks to fall off the scale. Other days life takes over with a sick kid, a friend or family member in need, or an emergency plumbing situation at home. On any given day, that scale is tipping heavily to one side or the other. And how can you fit being a mother, daughter, sister, wife, home-owner and friend all onto the life side? Let’s imagine instead, a bicycle ride. Depending on the course, your bike tips left, tips right, goes fast, goes slow, but as long you keep pedaling, you’ll stay upright.
Albert Einstein once said
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
No situation is more balanced than another.
My stay-at-home-mom friends do not feel balanced. They’ve given up careers to stay at home with their children, and while they would never have it any other way, I know occasionally they question whether it was the right decision to put their careers on hold, or if they should have fought harder for a part time arrangement. They stress a lot about whether their kids are social enough, or if they are teaching them enough, and wonder why they can’t keep up with cleaning and laundry. They often feel like they are slowly pedaling uphill only to never reach the top, but they just keep moving forward.
My working mom friends do not feel balanced. They could not or would not give up their careers when they had children. Thus, they run around the house in the morning to get everyone out the door on time (sweating profusely), drop the kids off somewhere wondering if it’s the right daycare situation for them, race to work only to be late once again, and then get a call from school or daycare ten minutes before an important meeting that their kid is sick. They get home late way too often, struggle to get meals on the table quickly enough, and are often still tight on money. They’re often racing down a big hill on that bicycle, just trying not to totally wipe out. But they keep moving forward.
Honestly, do any parents feel balanced more than 10% of the time? Do you think the BBC guy that had a work-from-home embarrassment that went viral feels balanced? Do you think the mom that was hiding in her pantry eating licorice to get a break felt balanced? No. But why did those examples go viral? Because we can all relate. We are all just trying to keep pedaling and keep moving forward. Let’s stop using that term “work/life balance” as if we are only balancing two things on an even scale. We are all striving for a balance that doesn’t exist. Our lives change on a daily if not minute-to-minute basis, just like a bicycle ride. Tip left, tip right, turn a corner, change speed. Just keep moving.
Let’s all agree to just throw out this term work/life balance, keep pedaling, and hang on for the ride! Who’s with me?!