Work/life balance.. the endless quest

Tomorrow Ez and Fonz will spend their first full day at their new nursery. I was a bit anxious about finding somewhere that I could trust after our nursery horror story, but we’ve managed to get them into a local nursery that I’m 100% happy with.

That, however, is not the problem at hand. The problem is me, and how I manage (or more aptly fail to manage) my time when I’m on my own in the house and it’s time to put on my working hat.

There are lessons I should have learnt after my disastrous last attempt at achieving a blissful work/life balance. If I write them down, maybe, just maybe, I won’t repeat the mistakes this time around…

  • Don’t be fooled by a full-time job cunningly masquerading as a part-time role (this one comes courtesy of Victoria).
  • Turn work down. If they like you enough they’ll commission you again. If they don’t, keep on telling yourself it’s their loss.
  • Do not under any circumstances check your emails on your phone during the night. Twitter, yes. Instagram, yes. Emails, no.
  • Be strict about your working and non-working days (where possible). Working from home means weekdays can blur into weekends and life then becomes one endless groundhog day.
  • Schedule yourself a treat at least once a month. Meet a friend for kid-free coffee, get a hair cut, go back to bed after the nursery drop-off.
  • Plan your time with the children so you’ve got what you need in the cupboard for an afternoon of painting, baking, or crafting. Oh, and then have the guts to actually do it.

Any other essential points I need to add?

16 comments to Work/life balance.. the endless quest

  • Good luck second time round and I know the twins will have a fabulous time in nursery. They are at a great sociable age which will help integrate them when the school years come (and that will come round quick!). I found I had to plan ahead a lot and book babysitters months in advance. But it was worth the hassle to get the ‘me time’, be a hands on mum to the kids and carry on going out to work and continue to have adult conversations around the water cooler (arf arf, x-factor).

    I got a recent telling off from my 4 year old after checking my Blackberry one too many times – now I make sure I don’t whip it out in front of her but only during the hours I am contracted to work :-)

    • Heather

      That’s the thing I miss working from home – those water cooler conversations. I guess that’s why Twitter’s great although it’s rather a distraction when I’m trying to work!

  • Kat

    If you are not working have the computer off. I’m like a moth to the flame with mine and have to be strict *whips iPhone out as a back-up*

  • Oh wow I would love to work from home but could definately see the problems in the work-life balance that would arise.

    I think your list of things to do / avoid is great.

    How about if you do end up checking emails / working on a non-work day, be sure to take time off in leiu and keep track of the time you owe yourself!

    • Heather

      Time off in lieu! Now that sounds like an amazing idea. I never got that in my last full-time role and I’ve always been jealous of those people that do get it, so I think that’s definitely one to add to the list.

  • Be kind to yourself – accept that you will drop balls and that it is ok to do so

    Also remember that 80% is good enough and you don’t have to give 100% because your 80% is still a whole lot better than most people’s 100% – trust me on this. This week marks my 3 year anniversary of my 1st return to work

    • Heather

      Wise, wise words. I want to try to be a lot more chilled out this time around. I don’t know if it’s in my nature to manage it, but I’ll give it a good go.

  • Sounds like you have great intentions. Now I just need to find some paying work!

    • Heather

      Let’s see how long the good intentions last, eh? I hereby give you permission to tell me off if you notice me dropping into that big black hole.

  • Ooh I’m so glad you’ve written this post and for everyone’s comments!
    My middle child starts school in 2 days, and my youngest has started nursery 4 days a week. With all of them out of the house I plan to bring 2 thirds of my working week into daytime hours, as opposed to trying to fit it all in to the evenings after the kids are in bed (and any other moments I can squeeze in during the day). I can’t wait to get some of my evenings back and I’m really looking forward to the change but I’m always glad of any advice from other mums who are juggling work and kids, especially other WAHMs xx

    • Heather

      I miss my evenings too. And weekends. But financially it’s the most cost-effective time to do my work because I don’t have to pay for childcare. But it definitely takes its toll, doesn’t it?

  • Enjoy the quiet…..

    And drink loads if tea.


  • Linda Clayton

    I have learnt the very hard way: Get as long a deadline as you can and don’t agree to any last minute jobs if at all possible – you know they build in at least 2 weeks just to find time to look at your efforts and you can usually stretch a deadline by at least a week even if it’s a last second emergency thing! And if they make any last minute changes to your brief or request extra copy make sure you get sufficient time to do it, especially if it’s not your fault. And be clear which days you are working. Obviously this has to be done with your politest diplomat hat on! Don’t forget that many mag peeps are mothers too and will understand more than you think. xx

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