From a very young age, I always knew that I wanted to have a career and a family. Whether it was my dreams of being a ballerina, a doctor or a business woman, my dreams always included a family. I had great examples from my parents of how to balance a happy family and successful careers. It all looked so simple.
A wonderful husband, three beautiful daughters and a successful career; I’ve learned it’s not as simple as I thought it was. Life gets busy. Laundry piles up. Work gets demanding. One child locks the other in the dog kennel while you’re on a conference call (true story). There have been times when I felt guilty over not being at work because I had a sick child or had to miss the Valentine’s Day Party at school because of a meeting. It can all be overwhelming and balancing everything seems impossible.
But, through all of this, I have stuck to my original promise that I will always set an example of work-life balance for not just my team, but also for my daughters. I have not perfected it yet, but have learned some valuable ways to keep things in check:
- Throw the guilt out the window. We are all doing the best we can for our families and our companies. I’ve learned that I am my toughest critic. So, as long as I am doing my job well and my family is happy, I have nothing to feel guilty about.
- Be present. Whether it is time with your family or a big work meeting, don’t get so caught up in the other things you have to do, that you miss out on the moment you are in. Focus on the good happening in that very moment, rather than rushing from one thing to the next.
- Just say no. I found that I don’t always have to go to every single after hours work event. I don’t have to take lead on every school party. It’s ok to miss a work dinner. It’s ok to let another parent be Homeroom parent and plan the parties. Allowing myself time to breathe and time to unwind without being over committed has been one the hardest, yet fulfilling lessons I’ve learned.
- Keep a planner. I am super Type-A, and always need a plan. I have found I am the calmest and am able to enjoy the moment when I know what the coming week looks like. This helps me plan things like sitters to take the girls to dance/gymnastics, coordinate work meetings and school events, and even meal plan. Whether it is on paper or on your phone, having a schedule helps make sure everything that needs to be accomplished can be. It also helps set realistic expectations for those around you, both at home and at work.
- Have a good support system. Having a good support system in your family and your boss are key. Knowing that if something comes up, your spouse can help with dinner or if your child is sick, your boss isn’t going to be angry, makes having a good work-life balance a reality.
As a leader of a team, I fully believe that modeling a good work-life balance, in addition to servant leadership, is a characteristic that sets good leaders apart from great leaders.
Everyone knows the pressure felt, to work at night or on vacation, when you see that your boss does it. It feels necessary to do the same. I am one to tell you right here and right now that zero down time from work equals zero patience for all the things that get thrown your way in a day.
When I get back from vacation, I feel ready to go again; recharged and ready to press forward. Without a break, stress mounts up and people burn out. I never want to look back at life and realize that I “lived to work”…no way! I want to work to live. I want to work so we can take those family trips that I cherish so much. And as a leader, if I do not unplug on vacation, I am not setting a good example for my team or my daughters.
Be that good example for your team and your children. Model a good work-life balance. Give yourself grace. Most of all, take time to unplug and enjoy life!
*Director of Sales, Walmart – InComm
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.