It’s 6:33 am. I’m sitting at my desk. I’ve been up for over an hour. I’m hoping to get some work done before the baby and my three-year-olds wake up. Then it’s time to get them dressed, fed and off to school. There’s a mountain of books next to me and one on the floor open to the chapter I was reading before the baby woke up from her nap yesterday. I have a pile of bills in front of me. I’m flanked on each side by baby paraphernalia, a swing to my left and a play gym to my right. A Music Together CD is in the computer.

Work-life balance.

A lot of working moms strive for it.

I picture my children, well groomed, sitting quietly eating a hot breakfast at the kitchen table. I look amazing as I finish up a call with a client, holding the baby on my hip with one arm while dolling out pancakes with the other. All the laundry is clean, neatly folded and tucked away in its appropriate drawer. When it’s time to go to school, the twins bring their plates to the sink, wash their hands, put their coats and shoes on and scurry off obediently to the car…. You get the idea.

In other words, when I think about work-life balance I resist reality.

It’s 7:00am now. Everyone’s awake. I step into my bedroom – there are kids sitting on the floor in various stages of getting dressed, a baby sitting in a swing waiting for a diaper change, a husband pulling a shirt over a giggling girl’s head, laundry everywhere – some of it dirty, some of it clean. My husband and I struggle to get the kids fed and off to school. I notice the oatmeal sticking to Alice’s hair as I load her into the car. I spot a huge hole in Anthony’s Buzz Light-Year shirt (the only one he’ll wear these days) as I strap him in.

Then I realize something. My life is crazy. It’s busy. It’s messy. And it’s incredibly out of balance. Nor will it ever fit into mutually exclusive compartments like “work,” “life,” “health,” “spiritual development,” or “recreation.” I hold the baby most work days after all. And I can thank life in general – work, family, my health, all of it – for my spiritual development. On most days being with my family is recreation…

The point is, when I’m not worried about creating balance in my life I can see and appreciate it and love it for exactly what it is: a wonderful, messy, out-of-balance, crazy, happy life.

What are your thoughts on “work-life” balance?

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6 Responses

  1. Love the post, Amy. You know this is a subject near & dear to my heart as well :)

    For me, work/life balance is simply being happy. I think the media and researchers strive to create their idealistic vision of what work/life balance should be, and it’s not a balance that is anywhere near reality. So why should we even attempt to prescribe to someone else’s idea of balance? It’s a losing battle, and unworthy of our time & energy.

    My life is CRAZY, but you know what? That, to me, IS balance. Work/life balance in my mind isn’t neat & tidy, it’s messy and sticky and confusing and gloriously unpredictable. Balance to me is leading a full, hearty life with people I love doing the things I love to do. For me, work/life balance perhaps most of all is simply learning to let go and enjoy the ride, however bumpy it may be.

  2. I couldn’t agree more – with you and Marlynn! I am only just beginning to find any sort of home/life balance now that my youngest is 6. Just as I begin to get some sort of semblance of a routine, life throws a curveball (like my husband getting laid off last month). I just always keep in mind that I LOVE my family, I am proud of my children, I am happily married and I would never go back to an office job ever!!!!!

  3. Terry DeMeo says:

    Oh Amy, this is so tender and so nice to read. My kids are 29 and 26 now and those years were over so quickly, even though it seemed endless at the time. They dress and feed themselves these days. They live on their own. And you know what? My son’s T-shirts still get holes he doesn’t care about. There are still a pile of bills on my desk and unread books piled up, and unfolded laundry has been sitting on my dining room table for two days. And I don’t even have an excuse any more. Who cares?

    What is balance anyway? Kids acting like robots instead of kids? Mothers placing priorities on clean houses rather than happy giggles? Bills before babies?

    How lucky for you and your family that you’ve pierced the impossible illusion of a perfect, sanitized, well-balanced life.

    Life is to be enjoyed and loved, and how wonderful to see it, right through the oatmeal and holey T-shirts.

  4. Lori Race says:

    You painted an absolutely gorgeous scene of a real life, a LIVED life and a life filled with messy, dirty, holey shirted LOVE! I really really love this post Amy and I think you are doing an amazing job of being both an inspirational coach and a fabulous wife and mama even though I am sure that it doesn’t always feel that way!(just a hunch since I can totally relate!) xo

  5. Kate says:

    I think Terry said it perfectly….who cares? yes there is laundry waiting to be done, yes the floor needs to be mopped, yes its been too long since the bathroom was cleaned, yes my daughter is being chased by the fashion police even as we speak because her sense of style is basically anything that she can put on herself….even better if it shines, has glitter, or looks like a tutu. but I love what I do, and eventually all those things get done, and the world hasnt stopped! I loved this post cause I used to think everyone had it all together and i was behind the 8 ball!

  6. Thank you for letting us be a “fly on the wall” of your home. It left me wanting more:) You are such a wonderful coach and it’s neat to see how your life is in your home. So often, people tend to think that coaches lead these near perfect, not messy, highly organized lives. Some might, but most don’t!

    Your home sounds warm, amazing, happy, rich, and wonderful. Filled my cup for the day:)

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