The Great Balance Debate

Is it balancing? Is it juggling? Is it multi-tasking? Is it about focusing? Or is it just semantics?

I wrote about each term over the last year.   “Work-life-balance” has an interesting history itself. Simply put, it means that a worker has enough time to complete his or her commitments at work and enough time to also have a life outside of the office. With enough for both, you achieve “balance”.  I’m sure some people may beg to differ.

Some of the first enforceable employment laws in the United States were enacted in 1874 (in Massachusetts). Can you believe it was a law that limited women and children from working too much in one week? Don’t gasp yet because that limit was to 10 hours per day! Now you can gasp.

If you move through the timeline of American work habits from that point to present, you will note that we started out working 10+ hours a day and that was the norm.

In the early 1900s, American workers average between 35-55 hours a week, depending on the industry and state of the nation. The number of hours worked in a week began to rise following the Great Depression.

Fast forward to the late 1970s to 1980s, the term “work-life-balance” became all the buzz and was just off the heels of the then popular ’70s term “workaholic”. It’s been written and studied that Generation X and the Millennial (those born after 1980) place higher importance on “work-life-balance” than generations prior.

Here we are today and “balancing” has become the term to refute.

How can we possibly have a state of mental steadiness or

equilibrium (i.e. balance) when we are working moms?

Keep in mind the word “balance” (and harmony) is really in the eye of the beholder, you. Only you can decipher the feeling of balance within your own life. Same goes for me. I can tell you without a doubt that I have felt the “out of balance” stress and still do at times.

Whether you call it balancing, juggling, multi-tasking or focusing, working moms are managing it all and still finding peace as well as happiness. Each term means something specific and every one of them means something specific to you (and me!).

Here’s another approach:

We are working moms who are managing our careers and motherhood while juggling multiple schedules and life demands along the way.

We often practice focusing on one thing at a time to better ensure our performance, accuracy and timeliness at work. We often practice focusing at home so we can experience, enjoy and embrace the special moments we have with our families. Our focus is deliberate and thoughtful when we apply it.

We will resort to multi-tasking in order to accomplish several things before a workday or evening ends. Sometimes that proves to be less productive than anticipated though. But we try!

While balance is what we may want and desire 24/7, life can change in an instant and is constantly in motion.  The reality for a working mom (every mom) is that the feeling of balance may come with those quiet moments we spend reading our little one a book.

The feeling of balance may come when a big smile and kiss hello greets   us at daycare pick-up.

And, that sense of balance may be achieved when a promotion is granted because of a job well done.

Balance is really found from within. I’ll take those moments and feelings of balance each and every time they come my way.

How’s that for semantics?

 

Sources:

http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/mono-regsafepart02.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work-life_balance_(United_States)

http://www.feelgoodnow.com/

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2 thoughts on “The Great Balance Debate

  1. Laura says:

    Very interesting article! Thanks! So true. I really feel a sense of accomplishment at work –at home, I really feel like a deserve a medal when I get to actually finish a project! I can only put small efforts since 3 kids and a hubby and a business take over so much of my time…don’t forget all the soccer, carpooling etc. Thanks for the 5 minute break. Best! Laura

    Like

    • Stephanie says:

      You do deserve the medal! Take it in the form of your “me time” and enjoy a break once in a while! 🙂 I haven’t even hit the soccer, carpooling stage… whew!

      Like

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