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Work Life Balance For Moms – Is it possible?

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Work–life balance is the concept of proper prioritization between “work” – career and ambition, and “lifestyle” – health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development. Much has been said about the need to ‘balance’ things out and to ensure that all aspects are handled well and thrive.

How possible though is it to have a perfect balance to all this demands I ask?

I am a full time working mother of three wonderful children. Two handsome boys and a lovely little girl all below 10 years old. I juggle my time between the office from 8.00am-5.00pm, a couple of business ventures, being a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a mentor and a fitness enthusiast wannabe  . This is the script for most Kenyan mothers…… add please do not forget to add traffic to the equation. It is a daily struggle to go through our to-do-lists and to meet all the demands. It becomes a delicate balancing act.

We should aspire to achieve harmony or integration rather than a work-life balance

Stewart D. Friedman the management professor believes we should aspire to achieve harmony or integration rather than a work-life balance. It is important to find harmony as all the above areas of our lives are all important and all require our undivided attention. Remember, we all have 24 hours in a day how we plan and what we do with the hours is what makes ALL the difference. If we don’t find a way to maximize on the hours and minutes, we’ll be run off our feet, feel inefficient, feel guilty for not having time for the really important things and we shall not be in a position to be really present in any situation.
I’ve been doing lots of research as I try to find harmony and I have over time settled on some principles that I try to apply in my rather life that give me a bit of sanity.

1.Wherever you are – be there fully and completely.

If you are at work, don’t be thinking about the time you didn’t spend with the family the night before, or what you should be doing elsewhere right now. When you are at home, don’t be thinking about the work you have to do at the office. Just be present and engage fully where you are.

2. Be creative (about how you manage your time).

If you can spend early evening with the family and put in two hours on that project before bed – do it. If you can delegate to the nanny to do the market run for you, the local bodaboda guy to pick a parcel for you, do your banking online….this will allow you to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony. Be as creative as you possibly can.

3. Integrate various elements of your life.

Whenever I get the chance over the holidays when the kids are home, I will work from home in order to spend more time with them. As they catching up with their holiday reading, I also get to do a bit of my work.

4. Practice “letting go” and “holding on.” 

Practice understanding what things to say “no” to and then letting go of them. At the same time think about the things that are truly important in your life and hold on to them with all your might.

5. Be intentional (about who you “let in your space.”)

When we do let people into our lives that are exhausting or difficult, it is very hard to get them out. If you want harmony in your life, be more selective about who you let into your space.

6. Create margins.

Modern day life is crazy-busy. Create a life that has margin. Build in free time, family time, personal time into the margins of your day-to- day existence. You’ll be happier for it.

Expert at delegating what does not absolutely require my personal attention

I have now become an expert at delegating what does not absolutely require my personal attention. I needed to buy uniforms for the kids last week and I just had no time to go to the local uniform shop. Since I had the measurements, I called the shop made my order, paid by Mpesa and sent my very trusted ‘bodaboda’ rider to pick the uniforms and deliver them home. I have a gentleman who supplies my cooking gas to the house, I like getting good deals so as such I buy my vegetables at Marikiti market, I have a lady who sells tomatoes and we have established a relationship, I send her a list by text, she gets the stuff together for me, gives a ‘beba’ guy to deliver to where my car is parked. Rose my fruit vendor knows the fruits I like, so I call her on my way from the office, send money by Mpesa and just pick the packed fruits on my way home. Delegate… delegate…delegate…it will free up your time to focus on what matters.

Ensure the nanny’s work is structured

I always try to ensure the nanny’s work is structured as well. Kids finish eating dinner by 7.15 – 7.30 this way I have time to catch up with them, read the bible, pray and tuck them in by 8.00pm. This leaves my with some me time, time to spend with my husband and or respond to that urgent email that I was not able to give attention to during the day, or even just take a long shower. I am asleep by 10.30 latest and awake by 5.00 am. This works well for me.

I have found that being highly structured has helped me maximize on my 24 hours. Simple things like having a menu at home, having one meal with the family, putting away my phone when I am home… Try out some structure and see what works for you?

Every day I am work in progress

What I have learnt as well is that every day I am work in progress and as such I try not to be too hard on myself. If something falls through the cracks today, I aim to do better tomorrow  My slogan is “I’ll outdo myself tomorrow”

Caroline is a HR practitioner with over 12 years’ experience in industry. She is also an entrepreneur and a career / workplace coach. She is passionate about helping people identify their potential, nurture their purpose as well as helping organizations leverage their competitive advantage to meet business objectives. caroline@elitehr.co.ke

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