When it comes to finding a balance between your work and home lives, how committed are you to making things work? If we judge your commitment by your actions, we will get a clear idea of your real commitment. Do your actions match your words?
Recently I was watching the movie “Mission Impossible 3.” On of the characters stated, “I will bleed on the flag to make sure the stripes stay red.” No matter what else you may think about that character, you cannot doubt that he is claiming to be seriously committed to his cause of action.
Often I have said that I want to balance my responsibilities at work and at home. I am a WAHM (work at home mom). This means my home and office are in the same building. As any WAHM will tell you, it is hard to go from work to home and work again. The lines between the two areas get blurred very easily. I noticed there were times when I was supposed to be doing family things and instead I was working. At other times, I was supposed to be finishing a project and instead I was helping children with homework projects.
I did a lot of talking about balancing work and home. All the books got read. I researched the topic at home was something I knew quite well. What I did not have at that time was a commitment to actually balance things in a way that would work in my life. Since I did not have a real commitment, the balancing act was all talk and it never happened.
Eventually, I put my money where my mouth was. In other words, I got committed to balancing things at home and work. When I got committed, things began to work as planned and life got better and less stressful. In theory, it was a simple process. This is what I did:
This first step is the key to it all. I set up a schedule that recognized I had a husband, three children at home, a dog and a cat. This means, at a minimum, a need to work during school hours. This is not my preference. I prefer to start work at about 1 in the afternoon and work until 11pm in the evening. However, this plan is not realistic in my life. When the children come home they want attention. They need help with homework. Dinner must be made and eaten. Preparation for the next day must be made. In other words, my dream schedule is not realistic for my life. In order to make things work, I had to give up the dream schedule and create a schedule that worked in my real life.
I created a schedule based on my home life and obligations at work. The time period from when the children get home from school until they go to bed was family time. No work took place during those hours. If I still had work to do once the children went to bed, I could work a few additional hours. On the weekends, from the time my family woke up until the time the children go to bed is family time. I do not work during those hours. By arranging my schedule realistically instead of according to my dream scenario. I am able to create a schedule that works in my life and that I can commit to keeping.
This second step is crucial. In the first step above, I followed the scientific method.
I had a question – could I balance work and home?
I had a hypothesis – I could balance work and home if I created a realistic workable schedule
I experimented – I played around with a variety of schedule configurations
I analyzed – I looked at the various configurations to see which one worked best for my family, myself and my clients
I concluded – based upon my analysis I determined which scheduling plan was best and started using it
The crucial and most important part of the scheduling process, of course, was the actual following of the schedule. When you are a work at home mom it is tempting to work all the time. This is especially true when your business is new, growing, or there is an imminent deadline. During those times, it is tempting to work as close to 24 hours per day as you can manage. While that is good for business, it is terrible for keeping a family operating at the happiest levels.
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