Work and life and living

Work Life BalanceAges ago I wrote a post about how having it all felt a bit like shit and it was a big one. Lots and lots and lots of mums could relate. The interesting thing about writing that, though, was that I think I missed the point. Or, at least I didn’t write the point very well.

See, there were loads of lovely comments on that post and social media giving me ideas for finding more downtime for myself and I appreciated them all, it’s just… I already have all those things in my  life. I really do feel amply supported in my day to day life.

We have a cleaner (weekly). We even have a gardener (monthly).

I have a great, solid, love-you-all-so-much support network of friends who help us out every single week. Friends who take the kids to activities. Friends who drop by with food. Friends who take the kids for an afternoon. Friends who drag me off to the pub when I’m getting too insular. Friends who tell me no.

I have a MIL who cooks dinner for the extended family every Wednesday night without fail and I don’t even have to be there if I don’t want to be.

Most of all, I have a super-hands-on husband who cannot do enough to help me in any aspect of life. There’s not a single thing that man wouldn’t and doesn’t do to help keep the home fires burning. We are definitely in this together and it’s only society’s warped opinion of what constitutes a ‘mother’s’ role and a ‘father’s’ role that means he gets praised for ‘babysitting’ his own children and I get judged for ‘letting’ him. Hrrumph. That’s an issue for another time.

Anyway, as you can see, for me it’s not about a lack of support. I’m grateful to have all the support I could possibly wish for in my life.

Instead, what I think it might have been my belief that ‘work’ is one thing and ‘life’ is another.  I grew up with that thinking, I started work with that thinking and I worked for many, many years with that thinking. Right up to the time I wrote the ‘Having it all’ post, in fact.

Then I had a mini-epiphany. I realised that my brain was working overtime trying to process work like that, but it can’t. Instead, my emotional equilibrium became a jumbled mish-mash and I was fighting to mentally keep up with it all. And I realised that what I was actually fighting to keep up with wasn’t work, it was life.

Because work is life and life is work and all the other things too.

I don’t know why this realisation changed things for me, but somehow it did. I think I feel less like I have to do well at both work and life and now I just have to do well at life. Previously, if I wasn’t winning at both ‘work’ and ‘life’, I felt somehow let down and angsty. I didn’t feel like I was doing my best, even if work was going well or life was going well. And we all know that it’s almost impossible for both work and the rest of life to be going really well at any given time, right?

Now that I’ve just got life to consider, it means I’m doing really well most days. Sometimes I might be a gold star winner at my job, other times I have to settle for a tick because I’m busy getting my gold star for parenting, or eating, or playing, or whatever it is that I do. It doesn’t matter what the gold star is for, but I get one most days for something or other and that makes my inner Type-A Bronny very happy indeed.

So, that’s my epiphany: it’s not about work/life balance, it’s just about life balance. Living a gold star life is so much easier than trying to balance the imbalance of work and life, don’t you think?

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  1. says

    Totally makes sense! We spend so much time working that it really is a part of our life; it needs to be in that overall picture and mix of things. Glad you’ve been able to work your way through it Bron

  2. says

    So relevant to me right now Bron, the whole school holiday madness means I have been feeling very down about the “work” part of things around here. I write at home and with the kids home there has been almost no writing, and it has very much been getting me down, like it is a failure on my part. But I haven’t stopped to think how many gold stars I have been notching up in the parenting department and the godmother department…I think I prefer the life balance idea too….thank you for sharing xx

    • says

      I’m the opposite – I’m off work next week, but his week I am trying to “work around the kids”. Work is so busy that I fear I am ignoring them a fair bit! I will make it up to them next week. There’s my balance.

  3. says

    Ya know, I did lots of thinking about this when I lived in Vietnam, a million lives ago. Short story is that it’s all one ‘life’. You live and work and socialise and have family time and it was all kind of one and the same. Sadly, I think that’s changed for my professional colleagues as life in that country has changed. I’ve been pretty careful since then about considering what the choices for my life are and I choose things I want in my life. When I think it’s all going to shit, I remind myself that I chose this and I can un-choose it. There’e been a lot of recalibrating around choices this year – some have been deliberate, very deliberate, and others have been forced (like lifting a daughter and her baby from a situation of domestic violence and readjusting to having a gorgeous little person back in the house). All chosen though, you see. When we drift into ticking the boxes of family, career, social life, clean floors and a pretty garden, maybe we’re just ticking boxes. We have to really choose. I am so, so, so fortunate to be able to choose from a wonderful selection of choices and I consider myself very lucky. I know those choices aren’t available to everyone, but I have a pretty full on life and I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I chose it. I choose to be deeply involved in Girl Guides (a volunteer gig that I invest lots of time in). I choose to work two hours away from where I live. I choose to care for grandchildren for the weekend. I choose to weed my own garden and sew Christmas gifts. I choose to blog. I chose it all and I can un-choose it.

    • Maxabella says

      I adore it when you come to visit, Kate. I always love your perspective and your wisdom. “I chose this, I can un-choose it”… such a good insight. Keeping those choices as CHOICES is the key, I think. Being mindful of what we are up to. x

  4. says

    Oh I like your thinking Bron. I had a kinda similar epiphany recently… I kept thinking I was / life was “on hold” right now, then realised that no this is life, the “on hold” feeling which isn’t really on hold at all… I realised I was in fact living, loving and learning every day… it changed my mindset, just like that. So, in short, I know just what you mean :) xx

    • Maxabella says

      I totally do that too, Elisa. I find myself thinking “when life gets back to normal” and then suddenly I think, THIS is normal. This is it! x

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