Okay, can I just say that I love cruising? The minute I stepped on the ship it was as though a huge load–one I didn’t even know I was carrying–was lifted and suddenly I could breathe. I love my kids, I love this blog, and in general I love my life, even when things get a little crazy sometimes, but I have such a hard time “shutting it off” and just taking a break. There is always one more email to read, one more project to finish, one more load of laundry to fold. Balance is not really my cup of tea, which is exactly what makes today’s guest post so relevant for me and probably many of you.
Hollee Schwartz-Temple was one of the first people I met at Blissdom, when I inadvertently sat next to her during lunch the first day. She was the sweetheart who patiently explained to me the wonders of Twitter, and told me all about her fabulous blog, TheNewPerfect.com, completely neglecting to mention that she was an about-to-be-published professor of law. (Can you say intimidating?!) Her book, Good Enough is the New Perfect, came out a few months later and it blew me away! Not only is it thought provoking without being preachy, it is actually fun to read. In fact, I liked it so much, I took it along to read on my trip.
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5 Tips for a Better Work/Life Balance
1) Recognize that there is a difference between “being the best” and “doing your best.”
So many of the moms we interviewed for Good Enough Is the New Perfect felt like they were competing in the Motherhood Olympics! And by golly, these moms were going to win.
But that left many of them feeling, well, miserable. And they weren’t even comparing themselves to a real person, but rather to a composite “perfect mother” who was effortlessly knocking off everything on her professional and personal to-do lists, without a trace of macaroni in her up-to-date hair. Ladies, that mom doesn’t exist! Shoot for your own best — and try hard not to compare.
2) Don’t chase someone else’s definition of success.
Many of the moms who were struggling most with work/life balance got tripped up by following someone else’s idea of what a “good mom” or a “good professional” looked like. That didn’t work out very well because often, these women did not have the same responsibilities or interests as the moms who were dictating their standards.
For instance, one mom in our book was trying to create a Martha Stewart-like environment at home, much like her own mother had done a generation ago. However, she was trying to create the household nirvana while also building her speech therapy practice and an online gift business. No wonder she couldn’t be Martha! Something has to give.
3) If you want to share the parenting responsibilities, you have to be willing to share the power.
When the parenting experts we interviewed made this point, it hit a little too close to home. My co-author, Becky, realized that she had been so intent on being the Queen Bee at home that she wasn’t even letting her husband try to help in the kitchen — she’d push him away or re-wipe the countertops until they fit her standards.
Through the course of writing the book, however, Becky was willing to let go of some of the parenting power, and that led the whole family to a better balance. Today, her husband is responsible for breakfasts, lunches and grocery shopping … and she has learned to be OK with whatever he picks!
4) Work toward a life that reflects your priorities and passions.
The most successful moms we interviewed found ways to embrace their priorities through their work. Many tried entrepreneurial ventures to gain more control over their schedules. Some worked reduced hours while their kids were little; others ramped off for a few years or more.
But the trick for the most successful moms was that they realized that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to work/life balance. What was right for Jen wasn’t right for Kim, and that was fine. Each mom has to decide for herself what feels good, right now, to her.
5) Find the courage to leap.
It is scary to make a change for the better. I know — when I was 28 years old, after a lifetime of following a linear path to a prestigious law firm office, I jumped ship. I took a position in academia that required a 50 percent paycut and didn’t offer a title that I liked (in fact, I refused to put a signature block on my emails for almost five years … I was embarrassed that “professor” wasn’t in my title at that time).
Oh, but I gained so much! I never missed being around for the activities with the kids that mattered most to me. And I got to go to a job that I loved. And I got to write Good Enough Is the New Perfect, my proudest professional accomplishment.
Take that great leap of faith — it can lead you to heights you have never imagined!
Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood is available at bookstores nationwide or on Amazon. Hollee and her co-author, Becky Beaupre Gillespie, blog about parenting and work/life balance at www.TheNewPerfect.com.
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