Sunday, March 23, 2014

Work life Balance or is it Integration?

As a working professional you always hear the word "work life balance" but after having kids I feel like that concept doesn't exist. There isn't a perfect balance between the two. I recently attended an International women's day (IWD) event and there were several successful women who spoke to us as part of a panel. One of them shared the phrase "work life integration" - and I thought to myself "that makes more sense than balance". I think there is so much pressure in today's world for women to be the best at everything (and I believe we do it to ourselves sometimes). We spend years educating our selves and want it all - Successful career and happy families. I feel like you can have a happy medium of both but not necessarily at the same time. I think we have to find a good way to integrate those together and accept the help that is needed to get to the end result that makes us happy.

When I got pregnant and shared this news with my boss, he sat me down and had a heart to heart with me. He told me when you have kids one parent usually has a a career and one parent has a job. And usually its the dad who pursues his career (not being sexist) but mothers usually have a harder time balancing the two and the guilt kicks in. When he first told me that - my ego and super competitive nature kicked in and I thought to myself "that's not true I can have it all". But now that I have been in this role of a mother for a year, I see his point. Don't get me wrong a lot of women do it all - but either they have really good nannies, strong support from their families around or just are super women. For most of us its reality to put our career's on cruise control (not park necessarily) to be that mother we want to be for a few years till our kids are old enough or till we decide its OK to kick start that career again. The challenge in wanting it all isn't that you cant do it but its the guilt that weighs on you and the fact you start questioning whether what you are doing is right and worth it. It's also dealing with the guilt of not giving what you are doing a 100% - whether its being there for your babies when they are sick or giving your executive the undivided attention when there is a fire drill at work and you need to put in the extra time. 

I think I have found my happy place for now and also realize I can control my happiness. If you know me you know I am a 'lists" person. I always have a long list of things that I want done - some essential and some just because I want to be creative and I have found a cool project on Pinterest. At the same International women's day we had a great speaker Arianna Huffington and she shared this "I was very relieved when I realized that you can actually complete a project by dropping it". So thats what i have decided to do to reduce the stress of that never ending list - even if it means taking a nap instead of worrying about the toy mess in the play area. Or hiring help to clean the house every other week so Amit and I have one less thing to stress about (spend that much less on a pair of shoes for the kids and myself in a month ha). I am OK admitting that I don't want to do it all at the same time - its fine if the play area stays messy for a night because its going to look that once the kids are awake anyway. Letting the little things not matter helps me be a better mum and working professional. 

I am very thankful to the people I work with and the company I work for - they worked with me to find that balance and I know that's not something all companies offer. I have a flexible schedule that allows me to take time away for the doctor's appointments and be there for my babies first. I am thankful for being able to work from home 2-3 days a week (but let me tell you I am also very excited to go into the office on Monday's for some adult interaction). My family is a big part of my life but I have also realized you need some time for yourself - even if its just 30 minutes to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and read gossip on your phone on a Saturday morning. Also when you have two working parents there has to be strong communication between you and your spouse and working together to make things happen. I am not generalizing but in my case I have come to realize you don't get things till you ask for them. So now I schedule time away to keep my sanity.

The last thing - us mum's need to be more considerate of each other and be supportive and less judgmental. I am a part of several groups on Facebook and I see some very judgmental and harsh responses to other mum's issues. We are all mothers - there is no right or wrong way to raise your kids and support your family. Do what comes naturally to you and surround yourself with positive and happy people. You will be surprised how quickly life is much better then! Another lesson from IWD (not that I didn't already know this but helps when you are reminded of it). A lot of us live in the past judging the past or in the future worrying about it - we forget to live in the present. Especially when it comes to our babies we should enjoy our babies - they wont be babies forever.

There is no right or wrong - if staying home with your babies fits you better do it! If you are like me and want to do both - do it! Hope you all enjoy parenting! And if you need to vent and need a ear - you know where to find me.


Sheeba said...

" Do what comes naturally to you and surround yourself with positive and happy people."- well said! I think if everyone just had/took the time to do this, life would be a lot simpler.

Kirti Shah said...

Very we'll written and everything that I'd want to say. This is exactly what even I'm doing these days ever since I returned to the work force and in fact had the same kind of conversation with Reenal too. Prioritizing what is most important and stress less about the things that can't be done at a specific time...that's my mantra!

Girja said...

I felt like I was reading a chapter out of my own life story. So so well written. I've been working for 12 years now and I always contemplate taking a break and being a SAHM for a while. But I know I'd miss the adult interaction terribly. But on the rare occasions that I have to make a decision between the two, family ALWAYS trumps work.

Sadhana BK said...

Very well written Reema. Be surrounded with positive thoughts and happy people is what we all should be doing. Well said :)