The boundaries between work life and home life can be easily bent and broken if you don't stay vigilant.
Charting the challenges of balancing work life and home life as a new mom and entrepreneur.
Since starting my company over 11 years ago, I’ve been perpetually chasing the fabled work life balance. According to Barbara Moses in a recent Globe and Mail article, that balance is within grasp for anyone who wants it. Surprisingly, after having my daughter 14 months ago, I’ve enjoyed a better balance than ever.
Before you get knocked up to alleviate entrepreneurial burnout, let me explain. I’ve had more balance in my life since my daughter was born because I finally set clear boundaries with work. I can’t say I’ve had more free time in general, or felt particularly well rested over the past year, but I’ve made the crucial distinction between being industrious and being a workaholic.
The Globe article suggests that balance is achieved by creating boundaries and sticking to them. I first had to determine how often I was willing to work – this includes checking email, answering calls, and monitoring social media. Since returning to work 10 weeks after my daughter was born, I’ve had less time to divide up, so clear and stringent boundaries are even more important now than in my pre-baby entrepreneurial life.
I leave the office at 4 p.m. to do the daycare pick-up, whether or not my to-do list is completed. Upon arriving home, there’s no popping onto my email or responding to conversations on social media. I’ll admit to working during my daughter’s nap times and pulling some late nights to meet immovable deadlines, but I definitely have more boundaries on my personal time than I ever did before becoming a mother.
The interesting thing is that nothing has fallen apart because I didn’t get something done within my set work time. I’ve dropped a few balls, but to no dire consequences.
Various people in my life, my business partner included, have commented on a conspicuous decrease in my stress levels, and how much better I’ve become at setting boundaries on my time. I take great care to protect my time with my daughter. But as she gets older and more independent, I’ll have to monitor my tendency to over commit myself and let the boundaries slide.
As my life gradually becomes less consumed by the relentless demands of an infant, I’ll have to remain vigilant; if not for anything else, as a gesture to myself that I value my own sanity. It’s not an easy goal, but when you can commit to that balance, it brings a new perspective on work and life.