Balance is a popular word with women. We always seem to be looking for it, trying to achieve it, or wondering if such a thing is even possible.
For me, balancing career and motherhood is very important. I love my career. I wish I could do it without having to actually go into the office every day, but I love that it gives me a sense of self. I am a tv producer and host. Some days that means sitting at my desk all day wearing headphones to drown out my co-workers while I write scripts. Some days I’m in the studio or on location for a shoot. Those days are long but fun. Today I’m actually flying in the corporate jet to attend the Daytime Emmy awards… my first national nomination. For me it’s a job that’s easy to love.
Of course I also love being a mom. God and family are my number one priorities. And to tell the truth I think I do a pretty darn good job of balancing everything. For example, yesterday I came home from work and cooked dinner for the family while whipping up a batch of homemade salsa, then took a walk with the kids. Today, however, I told them to make their own lunch while I worked on spackling on enough makeup to last thru the flight to LA and the awards gala. I did not feel guilty about it. In fact, I made them unload the dishwasher and take out the trash too. In our household everybody pitches in. I like to think I’m teaching them not only about balance for mom, but how a run a healthy functioning household.
There are a few things to be cautioned of when pursuing both career and family…
– Travel – this can be fun or necessary for work, but if your kids are young or have special needs, I recommend you travel as little as possible. They need routine and to have both parents home at night whenever possible.
– Flexibility – whenever possible, one parent must have a job that is at least somewhat flexible with hours. You and your spouse can decide who that is, and make sure that’s the parent on the school’s emergency call list. My husband is off work every other Thursday, so that’s the day we try to schedule appointments. I can shift my lunch hour, so that allows for parent-teacher meetings, etc.
– Commute – pay attention to how much of your day is spent sitting in the car. When my boys were in private school we commuted together, which turned out to be a great time for bonding and working on spelling words. Dad still has a lengthy commute but we try to help him out by taking care of errands so that he can concentrate on getting home as quickly as possible.
– Stepkids – don’t let the kids who don’t live with you full time fall through the cracks. Obviously, you can’t attend every game/performance/meeting if these kids live far away, but you must find ways to show up for them whenever possible. My husband goes to lunch with the 7 year old on his Thursday’s off (when appointments don’t conflict), and he attends the football games where our 14 year old is playing in the band. Since our 5 kids represent 3 households, we frequently have to divide and conquer so that at least one of us can cheer them on.
As you can probably tell, balance is something that has an ebb & flow. Rejoice when you have it, but don’t sweat it if your day feels like Dorothy’s house just before landing in Oz. When balance seems unattainable just focus on one step. Ask yourself, “what is the next best step I can take?”. And take it!