Over my twenty years in journalism, I have asked one question, without fail, for every interview. “How do you balance it all?”
For the most part, I would get pat answers. “It’s easy,” some would say. “Well, I have an amazing husband.” Or, “I have nannies.”
And then, once, a celeb finally told me the truth. “My balance is totally out of whack. I go to bed crying almost every night, because if I am taking care of my career, I’m not taking care of my kid.”
No, I’m not going to say who it was. But it was an A-lister—and she was struggling like everyone else.
Finding how to balance work and family became an obsession for me. How do you do what you love and still be present for those you adore? It’s taken a long time, but I think that I have finally found the answer. Well, at least, my own version of work-life balance.
I was speaking to one of my closest friends yesterday. She was telling me about this great gig she had where she was able to bring her child to work with her. It was work flexibility at its finest, and a total win/win for both of them.
Then I spoke to my best friend, who runs a business with her father. Her daughter was “working” at the next desk. She has learned how to greet guests and is a mini entrepreneur in the making. Her social skills are second to none…and she’s just on the cusp of teendom.
And as I write this, my daughter is updating my media contact database right next to me.
The face of today’s working mothers is so different from our mother’s generation. Interestingly enough, among my friends, none of our moms worked when we grew up, but we all work. Sure, money is important, but we work because we love it. We’re passionate about what we do.
And we work with our kids. Literally, side by side.
Gone are the days when dads went off to work, disappearing at 7:30 AM only to reemerge at 6:00 PM, with moms at home tending to kids and whipping up dreamy dinners. Today’s workforce is a two-parent job, a never-ending ebb and flow of work and play, all integrated. It is its own living, breathing entity.
Will the next generation tell us that we damaged our kids by having them work so soon? Maybe, but I doubt it. After all, we’re not talking about child slave labor. My daughter is working towards getting balayage for her hair. Her reasons for working, apart from helping me, are to achieve her own goals and dreams.
With 1 in 5 people in the United States working from home or telecommuting in one form or another, the face of the workplace is changing—and we are on the cutting edge of it. It’s unlikely that things will swing back towards a traditional workplace where everyone clocks in at 9:00 AM and clocks out at 5:00 PM. It’s not the way of the world anymore.
Since my friends and I all have daughters, I think it’s especially crucial for these young girls to learn how to make it all work. Ultimately, though, it comes down to one thing—being happy with your life and your work-life balance. When one is out of whack, your life (and your family) suffers. Personally, I want my daughter to see how I get it all done. Like every mom, I have a ton on my plate. But I can safely say that for the first time in my life with kids, my work-life balance is right on point.
And it’s because I have combined the two things I love the most, instead of separating them. I have found a way to do what I absolutely love, with the people I love most on the planet. It’s not impossible. Everyone can find a way, even if you think that there’s no way you would ever be able to attain it with the type of job you have. Ask for flexible work options, or look for telecommuting jobs in your field that you can do remotely. There is always a way to make your job fit in with your life…not the other way around.
At the end of the day, you just have to, simply, make it work.