Tag Archives: Work-life Balance

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What it really means to be a working mother

Recently I’ve been contemplating life without work, what would it feel like to wake knowing I only have the school run to negotiate, how cool that would be.

working mothers

There would be no income, that’s a bit of a downer but the thought of dropping the kids into school and then wallowing in my duvet would be a nice thought.

Waking up in the morning worry free –  a nice feeling, after all no matter how much you kid yourself you don’t worry about things – you do.

And no matter how hard you try to push stuff that worries you to the back of your mind it’s always there.

At times I feel like I am co-existing in a time warp, stumbling from one day to the next trying to hold it together. God forbid my cleaning lady retires, my whole house of cards will definitely come tumbling down.

You see my working life is a fine balance – more like a juggling act.

GCSE’s have dominated our household for the first time and I considered a ‘TAXI’ sign for the top of my car and adding a duvet and pillow for the back seat given I’ve spent more time in this vehicle than anywhere else.

‘As soon as the exam is over I need to be collected so I can get back home and study for the next exam’, my son says nonchalantly.

Like I have nothing better to do with my time, ‘I do have a day job’ I tell my son.

I know it’s important to do what you can for your kids when they are right in the middle of important public exams and I’m one of the lucky ones I can leave work to collect them and then work from home.

These last few weeks have all been about the exams but I realise that this treadmill I call life has nothing to do with work but rather kids.

work life balance and wellbeing

When they are babies they are cute and cuddly and you love, adore and dote on them jump forward 15-16 years and they are bumbling teenagers with grotty tempers and raging hormones and you are just the over worked, stressed, under paid parent doing the running around.

A eureka moment, I’m not actually stressed about work, I realise that I’m stressed because of kids.

They are hard bloody work and it doesn’t stop when they become teenagers.

More time running around, never a moment to sit down. A late pick up from school at 8PM; a cricket match at 9:00am no wonder I’m knackered all the time.

What do non working mums do? It’s hard enough fitting all this in as a stay at home mum but fitting in work as well?

working mothers

In fact work very definitely fits around school life and not the other way around, unfortunately.

Type into google ‘working mothers’ and there is a myriad of ideas to help the working mothers of today:-

How to balance your work/life schedule? You can’t

How to fit sex into a busy work schedule? Plan 2 years in advance by that time he’ll have forgotten.

How to make time for yourself without feeling guilty – Pleeeeease, working mothers always feel guilty whom ever they are and whatever they do.

Working mothers risk damaging their children’s prospects – just make us feel even worse than we do already why don’t you?

Can women really have it all? – If I hear that phrase again I’d probably kill the person who says it, the answer is NO we can’t!

The case for working mothers – DO we really need one…

The pros and cons of being a working mother – that’s a new one on me!

The best companies to work for as a working mother – None they all want your 110% commitment, they use cute advertising to induce working mothers.

Kids benefit from a working mum – that’s because we don’t spend 24/7 with the little buggers.

And so it goes

What is it like for me?

When I established Digital Print Management fifteen years ago I had a son under eighteen months and he came everywhere with me.

The office, on appointments when I needed to visit customers.

I wanted to break that mould and take my son with me after all, I’m a mother why should I hide him away just because I had a meeting to attend too.

Back then business was fun and a lot easier. I wanted to do my own thing so I could be with my children more and take the time out to see those school concerts and sports days.

And I’m proud to say I’ve only ever missed two events, one due to sickness the other because of a train delay. Ninety per cent of the time I drive them to school, pick them up and drop them around to their extra activities.

But it has been a different level of sacrifice and at times I’ve cursed the office.

It is a half-term break and I am working from home but the office is like a vortex it sucks you in and spits you out at the end of the day.

Before you know it, that trip you’d scheduled is abandoned, in mutual agreement, but that time you had committed to spend with your kids vanishes into thin air.

It’s all in the planning, I know, but when something unexpected crops up you can’t tell the customer can you wait until morning I’m on the way out with the kids.

The downside of running your own business is there is very little ‘me time’. It is impossible to to justify time away from the office when it is your business.

Ridiculous really because what’s complicated about booking an afternoon out in your diary, thousands who work for companies do but when it’s your business it isn’t always that easy and you end up playing catchup for the rest of the week.

Trying to get 8-9 hours of work into 6-7 hours won’t go so it feels like you never really empty your plate by the end of the day.

I have learned to be less hard on myself and not to go into panic mode if something isn’t finished on time. The other thing I’ve learn’t is not to put so much pressure on myself to get things done. No one will die if that task doesn’t get finished on time.

Prioritising has become an essential part of planning and now I try and go with the flow of things. Just when I think I’m on top of everything, some other issue comes along that needs to be sorted.

I know I’m not the only woman that feels like there is a permanent vice like grip in the pit of the stomach, the ‘I’m sure I’ve forgotten something’ moment when things seem to be going too smoothly are commonplace.

Friends who know me suggest that I would be lost if that’s the right word without work, I don’t think so it’s just that thing you do because of necessity rather than choice.

I’m still trying to find that balance between calm and stress, there are days when I could pack my bags and walk but instead I get my head down and carry on.

 

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Help. I’m a workaholic get me out of here.

It’s the school holiday’s and I’m spending time working from home with my children.

Five weeks in and I’m like a fish out of water. I didn’t realise what a creature of habit I’ve become.

My husband happened to mention recently whilst I was working at my desk that I am work obsessed in fact he actually said ‘you are a workaholic’. The treadmill of life

I considered that there might be a faint possibility that I am work obsessed given that I do have a touch of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and like to get things finished and perfected but I was slighted by being labelled a ‘workaholic.’

Then I researched the meaning of workaholic and unsurprisingly I found myself ticking most of the boxes.

“A workaholic is someone who is addicted to work. While the term implies that the person enjoys their work it can also imply that they simply feel compelled to do it. There is no generally accepted medical definition of such a condition, although some forms of stress, impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder can be work-related.” (Wikipedia)

i love my jobWorkaholism is not the same as working hard.

Loving what you do or job engagement is not the same as being a workaholic.

I was relieved to find that whilst I don’t fit into the category of workaholic I definitely classify myself as being work obsessed.

I was bought up by the work ethic; work hard now and you’ll reap dividends later.

Workaholism is not defined by the number of hours you work but rather the relationship you have with work.

By that definition my relationship with work is based on the fact I enjoy it.

When you work based on fear like losing your job or feeling compelled to show your boss how committed you are, you are working with the adrenaline in full flow.

This type of work pressure will lead to chronic fatigue, stress and ultimately burn-out none of which are conducive for a long life.

Getting satisfaction from work is a good thing but I’m not sure that many of us derive work satisfaction.

Are we working to live or living to work?

Long hours are a sign of dedication and commitment but for many workaholics it is an indication that they need to escape from problems. In doing so this can lead to neglecting personal relationships and responsibilities.

Although I don’t fit in with the need to work to escape problems I do admit to my wondering task list in my head that goes something like this:- iStock_000010266186Small

  • Finish this blog
  • Work on my college assignment
  • Plan meetings next week
  • Shopping
  • Pick up kids school uniforms
  • Provide proposal for customer

And so the list goes on.

I have trouble switching off and I don’t find it easy to sit still and relax. I am always doing “stuff”.

It must be my psyche and personality that makes me this way but I do know of others who are the same as me.

Give me a desk and chair and I’ll find something to do. I’m relieved when my family leave to go out so I can have peace and quiet.

When I’m on holiday all I want to do is work, draw, write or answer emails I like to fill my day which would imply that there is something missing in my life?

Do I really need to fill every endless hour or void with something to do?

I don’t want to fall behind and leaving things for a few days means that things get forgotten this leads to more work, hassle and pressure to get things done.

Working over 50 hours a week seems to be the threshold that differentiates the ‘workacoholics’ from everyone else.

  1. Do you feel a constant need to be busy?
  2. Do you find it difficult to relax or sit still?
  3. Do you find it difficult to delegate work to others?
  4. Do you have an endless to do list which feels like it is never completed?
  5. Does your spouse or children complain or moan that you “always seem to be working?
  6. Do you forget things, events, conversations because you are forever preoccupied?

Some of the above I can say yes to but given the modern society we live in, we are all under pressure to stay on top of things.

Using a bench mark of fifty plus hours a week to work out if you are a workaholic seems unfair given many Doctors, Nurses, Solicitors and endless other professions work long hours and probably don’t consider themselves as workaholics.

Wayne Oates coined the phrase “workaholic” back in 1968 but there are many jobs that require us to work long hours that provide a huge sense of satisfaction and meaningfulness.

If we see our jobs as satisfying and worthwhile and we have choice and control over our work then work contributes to our lives in a meaningful and purposeful way.

No control and no choice over work results in misery, depression and stress.

Finding the work-life balance is still a utopian ideal.

Mostly I love what I do, the day job helps keep me focussed and pays the bills and I love to write.

Half Asleep Woman With First Cup of CoffeeBut toward the end of a school term I suffer with chronic fatigue from the endless school activities and work having to fit in an otherwise impossible schedule.

A few days out of the routine and I feel less tired and clear headed again.

Researchers from Norway and the UK developed the Bergen work addiction scale.

Read each of the following statements and rank yourself on each one according to the following:-

1= never

2= rarely

3= sometimes

4= often

5= always

If you score 4 (often) or 5 (always) on four or more of these statements it may suggest that work is all consuming for your.

1. You think of ways to free up more time to work

2. You end up by spending more time working than you had initially intended

3. You work to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression

4. You have been told to cut back on work but haven’t listened

5. You become stressed and anxious if you can’t work

6. You prioritise work over hobbies and exercise

7. You work so much that you’ve noticed a decline in your health and well-being.

You can be a highly effective workaholic as long as you recognise the signs and symptoms of over work.

Finding the WLB (work-life balance) is like a pendulum, it moves in different directions according to our status.

L'arc en ciel

The downside of work overtaking your life is that you are likely to miss out on fun, laughter and the richness that life has to offer.

Advice I would do well to heed!