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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="http://www.whatifihadapa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/powtoon-fqCTXknReBA.mp4"][/video]
There were 8 different parents, and every one in there acknowledgement at some point had time creep in as a factor.
We discussed and delved into the example of their 2 year old son screaming, shouting and saying he hates the time to get ready, from scrubbing his teeth and being ready to go to the nursery (kita).
Identify with own feelings:
The mother explained that she felt frustrated and needed to get to work (TIME).
Identify with the child’s feelings:
When she put herself in the shoes of the child, he wants to do it himself. However, both the father and mother expressed that they were worried about the teeth not being brushed properly. The father explained that he rewards chocolates if his son behaves and explains he can only have the chocolates if his teeth are clean.
Hug and share each others feelings.
They realised that the solution does not address the real issue. The anger from the child is because he wants to do it himself, and there is fear from the parents that he will not do it properly. The authentic response they created was to speak with him and explain that he will do it himself, and that Mummy and Daddy will show him how to do it and check after, where they may just need to get him to redo some areas or help. The real issue was anger caused by a wish for more independence, and the time pressure that they felt and the worry of incompleteness was creating a repetitive issue every morning.
Our Mission to Give Parents More Time 'Memories Over Chores'
Giving parents the tools and technology is not just to develop technology for technologies sake. What we have done is develop a tool in a way that makes sense for parents, to organise their life, to suggest events that make a difference to them, to enable them to complete tasks like travel and shopping quicker / cheaper and in a way that adds value to their time.
The one thing we can give parents is time. Join Us.
All images courtesy of Bigstock and Shutterstock.
As I have gotten older balance becomes more prevalent a need in my life. Earlier on in my profession I remember sitting with my VP in Soho and saying that “I work hard and play hard, so because I love what I do there is no distinction.” He was disagreeing with me, and at the time I didn’t get it because I do what I love.
That said the concept of doing what you love is not a new one, and some of us are blessed in the opportunity to do that. However, then I had fulfilment of esteem, self-actualisation, cognitively, financially, and intellectually but to the cost of the earlier needs without admitting it: sex, health, friendship (constantly travelling), and no partner to share my life with. I also did not have a partner or indeed children.
Now I have those things but that demanded several negotiations in my life, not least with myself. It now means that with each move I make I consider what is important to me and negotiate in that manner:
Some critiques have added other levels like ‘Transcendence” “Cognitive” and “Aesthetic.” In my experience many people are neglecting the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy in thirst for the higher motivators. As I have become more self-aware of my needs, the base of the hierarchy: Physiological, Safety and Love can act at the higher levels of motivation.
Staying fit with kids brings out creativity in any parent, because time is short and precious.
So I'm penning my next blog on a flight to Belgium. It's apt as this blog is sharing my secrets to getting it done:
- automate the what you can. I spent the weekend setting up new direct debits as we have new costs coming in, but I will not have the time to manually deal with these. Automating them saves 30-60 mins of my weekend.
- food shop online. Food shopping online is the greatest saving in time with the kids it can easily eat up 2hrs, and we have to time the shopping trip with the feeds. Ordering online has such a wide potential. For example, in Switzerland there are only really 2 major online brands but the local farms deliver a wide variety of vegetables, meat and products. I switched to the local farm for my order, which is organic and cheaper!
- catch the train or public transport. I catch the train into work which gives me time to complete assignments, blog and business tasks. Theoretically the car is 35 minutes in no traffic but my route is notorious for traffic. So even though it's 69 minutes by train it's 69 minutes I use. Gives approx. 1 hour on your day depending on your journey.
- take a packed lunch. I am not too sure if a packed lunch suddenly became uncool after breaking up from school, but the nutritional food I make at home beats any Canteen. If you take a packed lunch you save time in getting food that you could spend on activities that increase your energy. Saves you 50 minutes a day (minus the 10 minutes to make it)
- Meditate or activate your cells at lunchtime. If you have taken food in it does not take long to eat. If you can do the activity you love 3 times a week it keeps your energy levels up which means that you have more hours in the day, because you are not just wanting to fall into your bed when you get home. It is of course important to spend time with colleagues as well socially; the networking and lunch conversations are very valuable. Poses like half tortoise for example stimulate high relaxation re-oxygenating the brain. It allows me to be up at 5.00 and go through until 21.00/22.00 on average boosting my energy about 1 hr a day.
- get up early if you can negotiate to get in early and leave early you have more productive hours in the day. I get in early so my day can finish at 15.00. This gives me at least 6 hours a day before I go to bed.
- what you eat can determine your energy levels. Sugar, processed food and white carbohydrates can suck energy. I work on a largely Paleo diet of organic meats, vegetables and fruit. This can give you extra energy and focus of between 1-3 hrs a day.
Indeed if you are catching a flight like I am now you could be either sleeping or working.
1. Sleeping could mean you are taking down time, but more likely you are so knackered zapped of energy and you are constantly trying to catch up with things that as soon as you go to sit down you fell a sleep.
2. You could be working because you are so busy and there are not enough hours in the day for you to get work done because you are constantly trying to catch up with tasks.
3. You could be reading, writing a blog, doing something for your or work and feel you are on top of your work.
4. You could be sleeping and you're on top of everything.
Answers 1 and 2 may have remedies in this article.
Being a Mum is tough period so I dislike the phrase ‘working mum.’ All mother’s know even from just maternity leave that being at home is work, and it’s hard! I have both stayed at home, and then decided to look for a job to go back to work. At the office you are cutting into your day to ensure that you are still there to do the pick-up and or drop off, cook nutritious meals, play and have family time with the kids and read bedtime stories. There are ways to limit personal costs, it may not be possible to have 2 hour gym or yoga sessions anymore, go for lovely walks with the kids, and be active and on the go because you are sat in the office. My Nike Plus Fuel band is at its highest on a Saturday and Sunday when I am with the kids. Yet when you return to the office there are ways to remain fit, healthy and energised.
1. Get in early. I’m up at 5am. I arranged that I would get in early with my boss, which means that if there are no calls with the US, or anything urgent creeps up I am finished at 2.45. I do believe in flexibility and that cuts both ways. The majority of the time I am home just gone 4pm.
2. If the childcare is in the direction of public transport to get to work; take it! The amount of productive time that can be gained on public transport catching up on to do’s, or even just being able to read a book gives you time back. I’m half way through my doctorate so the train time adds up to a lot of research time. The walking you do also all accumulates to a much healthier you.
3. If you can afford it get help. With my first child I did it alone, now 2 kids are in the mix, we have no other family to pull on and there is a longer commute. A second pair of hands to take the kids to and from nursery is a god send.
4. Get rid of your chair. I got rid of my office chair for two reasons. On maternity leave I had been using my gym ball, and on return to the office I noticed my back hurt. I brought my gym ball in which is great for my spine and even better my core, giving it a workout all day.
5. Take your lunch in. When did packed lunch start to become uncool? I am so glad in my new office everyone brings lunch in, it’s healthier cheaper and easy as I get to use up my leftovers from dinner. Of course there is the preparation time 0f 2 to 10 minutes the night before dependent on what I make.
6. Exercise at lunch time. I have a Nike Fuel band so as well as the walking involved in getting to work in the morning, I either practice yoga or run a minimum of 3 times a week. Because I made my lunch, there is no need to take an hour in the canteen. I make sure I still socialise with my colleagues, so as not to cut myself off from the networking that happens in the lunch time.
7. Keep one evening for yourself and your relationship. Date night is Friday, and just before going out I have Pilates which is my treat to myself. Plus my second child really left his mark ‘I was here.’ My core strength I can work on, the marks are permanent and I actually love. My kids are every part of me, and I know I am blessed to have them. That precious ‘me’ time, and then date night with the man I love so much completes the happy, healthy, emotionally balanced and physically fit me.
So that’s the way I’ve found to make the most of my time and be a mum.
If you do not invest in yourself who else will?
1. Get up early. This theme is repeated time and time again in our blogs, because successful and happy people get up early to make time in their day.
2. Find an activity that you love. If you are going to make a permanent change then the activity has to be something you love, so that you can regularly practice.
3. Make and ring fence you time. You need to have time in the day that is just yours and no one else's. This allows you to focus and collect your thoughts.
4. Collaborate if you are part of a family, or partnership work as a unit. Start to think of your time and resource as shared (remember your me time is ring fenced). If you share your calendar, and give visibility of what needs to be done and when, then the organisation and execution becomes a lot easier. 2 + 2 = 5
5. Outsource or turn to technology with no guilt. If it makes sense to outsource work getting a helping hand with the cleaning, gardening and children then do it.
Decide on your goals. What do you want to achieve and what is not important. If you find this hard ask the question "So What?" What difference does it make if you achieve the goal, if it doesn't matter to you don't do it.
Know when to say "No." You can only do so much. You may often know that you need to say "No", but not how to say "No". If it is tricky say "No" without saying it. For example, yes I can do project X. Which project would you like to assign more resource to so that we can also deliver project Y.
In the process of deciding what to stop, or delegate we define a priority. No one can do everything it is a tradeoff on resources, budget, time and tasks.
There can be so many distractions, and different people have different ways of working. There are differences between Generation X. Y and now Z. However, by focus it does not mean turning of social media for everyone, music or TV. For some people they work more effectively in these environments. What is important is to have key points where you focus, or you bring a team together to focus, so that the project doesn't just roll along. Smooth is not necessarily good, it needs to be reviewed and challenged with new energy and input given at different intervals.
The more organisation the more time you have. This is from organising your folders, inbox, bookmarks...you name it, the better you do it the easier your life is.
Utilise technology we have so much at our finger tips. Save time on travelling and question do I really need to go? Or can this be done over Skype or Telepresence? There are times when face to face is worth the investment of time and money, so just think about the situation. Find tools that make your life easier there are so many apps and tools out there that will save you time.
Outsource things in your personal life so you can have energy at work, and have the time for the important things in your life family and friends. I feel no guilt in paying for a gardener. In fact I am doing my plants a service as most plants that touch my finger tips do not last long.
KISS Keep It Simple Stupid or keep it simple stupid is a term we regularly apply to business. Technology can often blur the lines between business and personal life and our lives have more tasks than the generations that preceded us, we could learn a lot to KISS at home.
3. Eat To Live and Don't Live to Eat. It is important to give your body what it needs, think about what the food is giving you. It is too easy if you are staying in hotels to slip into bad habits, try to pick hotels which have health services, and good menu options. If you are at home cooking food can take 5 to 15 minutes, it's a myth that you have to spend a long time in the kitchen. There are obvious go to recipes like Jamie's 15 minute meals or alternative quick and refreshing recipes from Ottolenghi.
4. SET YOUR BARRIERS don't stay at work just to be seen;instead be effective in the time that you are there. If you don't set your barriers then your life will not be how you want it.
5. TRAVEL EFFICIENCY if possible think about how to make your travel more efficient. There is no one size fits all solution here. It would be down to personal circumstances. Try to reduce the time it takes to get to work: look for a job nearer to work, working from home or accommodation that is closer (where possible). Take public transport so that you can utilise the time it takes to travel to work.
6. INVEST IN WHAT MATTERS your time is your investment. Take time for you, and choose to invest in the things that make you happy, give you energy and make a difference to your world.
Work life balance is not as simple as just a KISS...so it's best to leave you with Nigel Marsh who provides an insightful view on the subject.
http://www.ted.com/talks/nigel_marsh_how_to_make_work_life_balance_work.html Engaging and touching TED talk by Nigel Marsh. "All the discussions about flexi-time or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family.”
What would you do if you could design your own life? The example of his son having the best day ever because he got to play in the park, have dinner and a bed time story together was touching! The small things definitely matter.