My seven-year old daughter woke up coughing, sneezing and stuffy this morning. "Oh Lawd," I say to my husband, "She's sick." Of course I jump into action with a little Vicks Rub, Robitussin, and peach tea with honey because I've got to get to work and so does my husband. But alas, her wheezing, droopy eyes show us that this kid is in no shape to venture out today. My husband decides to stay home with our daughter. Whew, another crises averted. This is a typical day in the life of a working mom and dad. Whenever I speak to a group of ladies, this question arises: "You're a successful careerist, mother and wife, can you really have it all?" 'No, you can't,' I answer. But in my opinion having it all is way overrated. Anybody who says you can work 18-hour days, six days a week and have a loving, fulfilling relationship with your family, is, well, lying to themselves. Oh Lawd, I just pissed somebody off with that statement. My point is you have to take time and make time for what's important to you. Here's how I did it:
I make my family the #1 priority. My co-workers, friends and bosses know that my husband and two children are my world. It means I come in early, go home on time (except when shipping the magazine) and keep my family abreast of all of my work commitments, whether I'm traveling twice in one month or working til 11pm. Yes, it happens, but everyone is made aware early on.
I am getting organized. Can you say achilles heel? This only took me 20 years to conquer. My office was a mess, my house was a mess, bills were paid late, I couldn't remember simple stuff. One of my co-workers even joked that I was a hoarder. You know that pissed me off. But she was partly right. I piled every paper, business card and press kit into corners and got mad every time I couldn't find something. Not because it wasn't important, but mostly because I didn't take the time. Now? I organize and file everything, everyday.
I figured out how I best work. I'm a morning person, so I get up early and on some days, I work out, make dinner or get to the office early. This helps me get a jump start on projects, prep for meetings, organize my office, or return calls and emails. You may be in an office culture where everyone arrives at 6am or they work til 10pm. I challenge you to figure out how you best work and be consistent. It will help you to set and manage expectations.
I'm starting to outsource. Okay, I really want a maid. After working all week, helping our kids with homework, cooking, cleaning and running to stores, mama is tired. Haven't done it yet, but I do order groceries from our local supermarket, have the grass cut every two weeks, and send our daughter to after school care until 6 p.m. so my husband can get a moment after he gets off work. I'll let you know how that housekeeper thing works out. Might have to work that into our 2013 budget.
I'm taking time for me. This is especially huge for you workaholics like me who race around at 100 miles an hour while life passes you by. When my little cousin once said "Nee, you need to slow down," I thought, 'Wow, I'm running hard with no end in sight.' Nowadays, taking a moment means riding bikes with my daughter, chatting up old friends and watching "NCIS" marathons.
For all of you ladies out there thinking that work-life balance is impossible, I'm living proof that it is.