Work/Life Balance is bullsh*t.
There, I said it.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish it were possible.
Back BK (‘Before Kiddo’) I’m pretty sure I got as close as I’m ever going to get to achieving this elusive Work/Life Balance. I’m type A, so trying to fit too many accomplishments into any one block of time is my specialty. Yes, back then I also had work. But my weekends were mostly free. I worked out every day. I stayed up late when I wanted to; slept in when I wanted to. I read books in one sitting. My eyebrows were waxed, my clothing up to date, my taxes done on time, and I watched most of the nominated movies BEFORE the Academy Awards.
These days, PK (‘Post Kiddo’) balance looks a lot more like this: I get up at 5am so I can have a hot cup of coffee and write, or revise, or read, or do whatever I need to do book wise. My early-bird kiddo is generally not far behind me — sometimes arriving bleary eyed downstairs as soon as the coffee timer beeps, sometimes thirty-minutes later. On rare occasions I get an hour with my coffee and laptop and words. I have drafted three books in those early morning hours, often to the tunes of Bubble Guppies or My Little Pony or The Magic School Bus or whatever show is the current favorite. I also have time to write once she’s in school, but I can’t rely on those hours the same way — they’re often chewed up by other work, or house stuff, or chasing Fred the puppy around while he steals socks and mittens. Then she’s home from school and the Mommy hat is back on.
On a good, balanced day I work on my current book. I get to read a few chapters of another book. My kiddo is happy, healthy, fed, clothed, and off to school. The dog is walked, and I squeeze in a run. Dinner is in the crockpot (this appliance alone is a gift for those seeking work/life balance), and my to-do list is shorter than when I got up.
But I’d be omitting a critical truth if I didn’t tell you there have been times where I have plopped her in front of one too many episodes of her favorite show (Yes, Netflix, I am sure I want to continue watching…), or tossed a muffin, banana, and cheese string at her and called it ‘lunch,’ or ignored her request to color/craft/play a board game/do a puzzle because I needed to write. I doubt she’ll remember those choices, or the fact I was trying to let television parent for a few hours, but I will — and as much as I tell myself that’s okay, she’ll be fine, she will continue to be happy and healthy and thrive, that my career matters too, there’s still a fair amount of guilt that comes with that choice.
So to counteract that guilt, to balance things out, there other days where I leave the laptop powered off, and color with her before the sun comes up, and read books to her instead of myself, and do handstands in the basement in our pajamas before breakfast. And if a character keeps chattering to me, or I figure out a sticky plot point, I jot it down in my phone (or on my coloring page) for later.
I think the mistake I’ve made is believing balance can be achieved every day — it can’t, at least not in my house and life. And that’s okay.
As I said before, Work/Life Balance is bullsh*t.
(But that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying… 🙂 )
Do you have a secret to staying balanced?