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?
No matter what your words say, your actions tell the real story.
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. I read all the books. Research on the topic became my jam. I could speak eloquently on the topic for hours at a time. I knew all about the struggle to balance work and home. 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 at 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:
- I set up a realistic work schedule around my family life
- I worked the schedule
- I cut myself a break when things got messed up from time to time
I set up a realistic work schedule around my family life.
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 11 pm 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 additional 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.
I worked the schedule.
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.
At the same time, when children are ill, have school events, or are simply adorable, is tempting to blow off work and spend all your time doing things with your children. Similarly, if your spouse is as handsome and charming as mine, it is very tempting to blow off work and spend every waking hour enjoying him!
When you create a schedule, you must keep it. In order to balance your obligations at work and home, you must stick to the schedule. Of course, it is tempting to ignore the schedule. It is tempting to just wing it each day. After all, it is fun to be carefree and jut work totally free of spirit, schedule and plan. However, working the schedule you create is an important part of realistically balancing your obligations at work and home. The bottom line is simple, when you create a schedule, stick to it.
I cut myself a break when things got messed up from time to time.
Even with my wonderful schedule and my knowledge about the importance of schedules, sometimes I mess up. Sometimes, I work through the entire day and leave dinner and homework all to my husband without helping at all. Our normal routine is to work together to get the homework, dinner and prep for the next day done. But, sometimes for a variety of reasons, I ended up working for the entire day and doing nothing of significance for my family. On other occasions, I ignored work and spent all day doing things with my family. Sometimes this means deadlines were pushed. Sometimes this means that I will be pulling all-nighters to catch up like when I was a college student. No matter what the case, no matter which side of the aisle I didn’t balance things properly for, I cut myself a break.
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I don’t spend any time beating myself up for messing up my balancing act. When my attempts at balance fail, I brush off the mistake and keep it moving. The bottom line in it all is that I am committed to finding and living a workable balance between my life at work and home. I put my money aka my actions where my mouth is and work to balance the various roles I play.
Take a look at your life today. Is there an area where your commitment is weak? What are you going to do to make sure your commitment is clear to see?