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Worklife Balance

10 TED Talks from Mothers that Inspire

10 TED Talks from Mothers that Inspire

On the 17th October we are launching three of the the first mothers rock interviews that we are publishing in our members magazine and via our you tube live channel accessible via our community.

So as a prelude to our channel and magazine which will raise up and inspire with unplugged interviews with mothers, here are 10 TED Talks from mothers that inspire.

The 5 Work Life Balance Myths

The 5 Work Life Balance Myths


If Work Life Balance - 'balance' is defined as "an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady" then frankly there is no such thing.  It is a myth.  A Mother Working Balance is "dividing yourself between multiple things, with unequal distribution" because the focus is #1 Mother and #2 Life.  That's our real life every day. [video width="854" height="480" mp4=""][/video]

Why the Demise of Bedtime Stories is Sad.

I was astonished today to read in the Guardian that parents are not reading bedtime stories to their children.    A Littlewood's survey of 2000 mothers revealed only 64% read bedtime stories to their children, and only 13% on a regular basis.  87% of the parents of the survey believed that bedtime reading is vital to their children’s education and development.

What I want to explore are the reason if there is a recognition of the value of bed time stories, but the inability to fulfil what generations have practiced what are the barriers.  Then what are the potential consequences and share the routine I have with my two.

The Problem

The survey by Littlewoods found that 9% felt too stressed and 13% did not have enough time, but these percentages are tiny.  Over half of the children wanted to play with the TV, Computer or other toys instead.  In reality the problem may be a combination of both.   The National Partnership Survey November 2012 found 80% of working women and 72%of working men said they, their neighbours or their friends face hardships when managing work, family and personal responsibilities.  This is the exact problem WHATIFPA want to address.  If parents are struggling the path of least resistance to use passive entertainment may be easier.  It may be easier to let children divert their attention to the TV or computer.  Where as 91% of the Littlewoods sample were read bedtime stories by their parents.  The time needs to be given to parents to make it easier to juggle, so that they can have the energy to make the effort that generations before us had made.

The Benefits of Reading

Research by Yvonne Kelly PhD found a link between a regular bedtime routine and cognitive abilities at 3, 5 and 7 years.  For example, at age 7, not having a regular bedtime was associated with significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.22), math (beta -0.26), and spatial abilities (beta -0.15) among girls. There were no significant relationships among boys.

Researchers from five universities and from Mathematica Policy Research Inc., in Princeton, N.J., found that when English-speaking mothers in low-income households read to their very young children, the youngsters had greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive scores before the age of 2, compared with toddlers who were not read to very often.  Reading develops language.  Reading both oral and written develops meaning.

Our Routine

My 2-year-old daughter loves books on average she wants 5 short stories a night, and she also loves puzzles.  My 9-month-old son loves touching the colourful story books, and singing.

After bath time the first thing they will want to do in their rooms is do a puzzle.  Then she chooses books in Danish and English.  Some favourites are Jungle Book, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s child.  The Snail and the Whale, The Princess and the Wizard, What the Lady Bird Heard, Peek a Boo books, Danish and English Nursery Rhymes.


As well as WHATIFPA, my doctorate is in the Development of Talent in Children, so this is an area that I am passionate about.


Reading to Toddlers Could Boost Literacy. By: Jacobson, Linda, Education Week, 02774232, 7/26/2006, Vol. 25, Issue 43

Work Life Balance is a Myth, there are at least 4 factors in the relationship: Work v Family v Personal v Administration

80 percent of working women and 72 percent of working men said they, their neighbours or their friends face hardships when managing work, family and personal responsibilities (National Partnership in November 2012).  88% of people say they have difficulty juggling work and life (AON Consulting).  This article breaks those key ‘life’ tasks down further to better understand solutions to balance.

What do we mean when we say work-life balance, we continually treat the equation like a seesaw and hence it can be hard to at least have some stability.  The more bases that we understand the more stable our life can become.  The more we recognize the richness of people’s lives, the more realistic we can be.

Personal ‘Me’ ‘Me’ ‘Me’

Being a parent does not mean that all the things that happened before are completely gone.  Yes time is a precious resource, but you still exist as a person.  Not only do you need to look after your physical health but also there still needs to be some personal time.  If you do not have your health you have nothing, you cannot be there for your partner or your children.  One of the challenges that people face is the constant struggle in the household just to grab enough time for themselves, their hobby or just to get some down time.  If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.  John Rohn. More balance could be some ‘me’ time.  One solution is to take time from one of the other four factors in order to do just one thing for yourself a week.  It could be yoga, tennis, watching a movie, having a date night or meeting up with a friend.


20 hours plus a week is spent on housework (Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends 2013), it seems that we have increasing bureaucratic obligations.  Americans alone spent 8.8 billion hours completing government forms (White House Office of Management and Budget, 2010 figures)! Some tasks are already outsourced, but one solution would be that many more tasks could be automated to provide more balance to the household.


Work is about the employer, employee and community.  The community and government need to start to address the flexible requirements of its citizens in the workplace.  In some countries there is no protection or promotion of flexible working.  Policies could encourage companies to offer more flexible solutions which could have add on benefits, for example, reduction of CO2 admissions due to reduced commuter, and reduced congestion pressure on our transport networks.  There is of course the need to address how to motivate and manage virtual teams.  This is where the role of employers comes in.  There needs to be a change of mindset of employers to understand what opportunities a flexible workforce could bring and to be able to have a culture of productivity and trust; as opposed to physical presence.  Some employers are already there my first job after graduating over 10 years ago was working flexibly, but this is not every employer. 




Every family is different and the constant judgment on different family solutions goes from frustrating to boring, because each family has to have the solution that works for them.  If they do want to work then government and society should play a role in policies that give access to affordable childcare. The family day can be pressured at points with the school or kindergarten run, where work can play an important part to help to achieve balance.  The quality of time with the family can be impacted by personal and administration needs.  Yet this forth quadrant is often where people want to spend their time.  70% of working fathers and working mothers report they don’t have enough time for their children (Family Matters Survey; The National Partnership for Women & Families, 1998).

If we keep on thinking of work-life balance as a two factor equation we may never address the real challenges of family life.

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