The phrase work/life balance is used a great deal by professional people who are trying to manage their career and their personal life. It is one of the new professional ‘buzz’ words or trends nearly. As technological advances make it more difficult to escape work with emails coming through to mobile phones and the more portable lap top and ipad, professional people find themselves with more blurred lines between home and work life.
When I joined Downey Birch in September I left a full-time position in local government to take a part-time position in a private company. A risk, but a risk I felt worthwhile in trying to restore a so-called work/life balance. I wanted more time with my kids and I suffer from Type 2 Diabetes so full-time work was taking a strain on my health. I now work 25 hours with a full day off mid-week.
What does life mean though in this phrase. It will mean something different to each individual person. To me it means managing a family – two children and a husband – and a home. A full-time job in itself. This means cleaning, washing, shopping, cooking, errands and so on and so forth. Then there is the wider family – grandmother, parents, brothers, nieces and nephews. I have very little time I can call my own.
Since going part-time and finding myself with more time I quickly realised that there is a very important word missing from this phrase – ME! With more spare time I found the extra hours quickly got eaten up running messages, visiting family members, catching up on house work etc etc. I wasn’t actually relaxing at any time during the extra 12 hours I now found myself with – I was doing more. I am not a person who can naturally ‘sit’ and relax. I am a fidget, I need to be doing something.
Therefore I have set myself a target of a least once a month doing something JUST for me. It started well – in January I spent a morning at the Ulster Museum to catch the Colin Davidson exhibition on my own. Without the kids I was able to spend time examining each piece, I was able to look at the rest of the exhibitions without Thomas giggling at any nudity or naughty words, I was able to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and watch the world go by. It was blissful.
It was a good start …. unfortunately I haven’t done it since but in writing this piece I am re-enthused to spend a day (well, up to school collection time) doing something just for me. Even if it means spending the morning in my greenhouse with no mobile phone. I am happy with my life. I choose to be a mother and wife with a career. I am not complaining – I am simply working on a better work/life/me balance.