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The myth of balance

How to let yourself off the hook for being "all things to all people all the time"

by Dr. Mary  |  4718 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

1.) Remember to appreciate the forest rather than concentrating on single trees. As long as, on the whole, the feedback you get from your family and co-workers is that things are going well and moving forward, it’s OK to pay a bit more attention to work or home from time to time at the short-term expense of the other.

2.) Be kind to yourself. As a working mom, you already know how important it is to support yourself.  One way to do this is to push away feelings of guilt or inadequacy you might conjure up when you temporarily favor work over family, for example.

3) Help is a good thing. It’s OK and important to ask for help when you are in crunch mode at work or at home.  Ideally, you have a spouse of family nearby that can help, but another great resource is other working moms.  Creating arrangements to trade child care, transportation and weekend care with other working moms can not only help you all get what you need to do take care of, but it provides additional social opportunities for your kids.

The take-home message here is that it’s OK to favor work over family from time to time, and to put family squarely ahead of your professional life at other times. When times like this happen occasionally within the context of a generally balanced and boundary-driven life, there’s nothing to worry about -- we all know that from time to time we have to make hard choices to accomplish all the things we need to do.   By taking care of yourself personally and professionally, you assure that your family and career both flourish in the long run.


About the Author

Mary Coussons-Read, Ph.D. is a a proud Mom, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver, and the founder of Powerful Mind Consulting and Coaching, LLC.

Read more by Dr. Mary

4 comments so far...

  • I remember being really nervous when laying out a work plan that would allow me to leave work 2 hours early 2-3 days a week for a short time to participate in important meetings at my daughter's school. But my (childless) boss was fine with it, my nerves for nothing. She knew I'd get things done even if the time frames were shifted and was unconcerned about perception.

    I have more trouble with my boss who does have kids; he feels he doesn't get to go to his kids' things, why do I seem to feel that is so important? I think that sounds like guilt talking and he should leave the office early more often; we know he puts in the extra hours the rest of the time.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 29th April 2009

  • I really appreciate this article! I have long maintained that you really need to keep a big picture view of your life so when things get crazy in one area, you can recognize it's a phase and it will pass. It not only can relieve the stress of the moment, but recognizing there will be a time where you have more family/fun things coming makes the heavier work times easier to bear.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kelly O on 25th June 2008

  • All good advice! We (I know it's certainly true with me) can really beat ourselves up with guilt, when it turns out that the family is perfectly okay with the way things are going.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 24th June 2008

  • The thing about balance is to be balanced about balance. Such sound advice. Isn't it interesting how someone else can sometimes best remind us of what we already know. Thank you for taking the time to pass this along in such a common sense, easy to remember, format

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dr Christopher on 24th June 2008