WHAT WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEANS TO ME

 

Work-life balance is always a challenge. When your children are small, it’s all about time management: getting to daycare for pickup; managing time off work so you can be part of school field trips and activities; and fitting in trips to the store for supplies and clothes, which either disappear or are outgrown weekly. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day.

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Time flies by so quickly. You’re always being reminded to live in the moment, to embrace and enjoy those times when your babies are small because you’ll never get them back. So, you try to capture the memories, to ignore the laundry and the mess and the chores you didn’t get done that day.

Managing a career can add stress. If you have a job that requires you to travel, it can be hard to juggle the responsibilities of childcare. And getting home late can mean that dinner is not a well-rounded meal with enough vegetables, or that it’s something in the car between home and extra-curricular activities.

The one thing I always tell people who ask is that there is no stage of parenting that’s harder. They’re just all different. Today, my children are young adults in post-secondary school and pursuing careers and living at home. The challenges are different. 

They look like adults. They hold down jobs. They go to post-secondary school, manage classes and get their assignments done. But they can’t figure out how to empty the garbage. They don’t pick up groceries (unless it’s snack food or pizza). And they don’t know where the iron is, let alone how to use it. So instead of singing the cleanup song, you’re nagging them to take out the garbage. 

There are some time management perks to older children. Once they get their driver’s licence they’re happy to run errands and fill your tank with gas. You can call ahead and get them to start dinner (as long as you’ve bought the groceries). And they can be left alone when you’re away for a night or two on business.

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What doesn’t change is the need to live in the moment. No one ever tells you to enjoy the teenage years because you’ll never get them back. But it’s true. Those moments when your baby is taller than you and leans down to hug you before they head out, or calls you in a panic because they still think that you can fix everything.   

Parenting can be hard. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are — the juggling to balance it all can be harder. But at the end of the day, if you’re lucky enough to have great kids and a career you love, maybe that in itself can be work-life balance. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Emily Arsenault