Wellness – A Way of Living

Turning Good Intentions into Action

Women and Work/Life Balance

Work - Life - Balance


Today’s career women are continually tested by the demands of full-time work and the responsibilities and obligations at home.

 According to recent statistics – women, at least in the western world – have an equal representation in the workplace, (48% of labour force 2008).  However, while having a job for many women is a necessary part of contributing to their household – it is also a source of stress as many women feel that they hold ‘two’ jobs – that of wife/mother and that of professional outside of the home.  Of course to be fair there is an increasing trend in men taking on responsibilities in the home, but as the women who have attended my Work/Life Balance workshops point out – they are still ‘shouldering’ more of the responsibility of the household obligations then their partners – at the same time they are working long hours outside of the home.

 Women who express the sentiment – life has too many tasks and not enough hours to complete them – also tend to feel ‘guilty’ when they don’t get the tasks completed or they aren’t completed well. 

 The guilt I’ve discovered comes from a perception that ‘other people’ are scrutinizing these women and that they have somehow not ‘lived up’ to the standard that society or peers or family members have set.  The results of which cause women to try and ‘do it all’ leading them to become a ‘stressed out’ individual who feels like there’s something out of balance – but just can’t seem to find a way to get it all in balance again – without giving up something or disappointing someone else.

 The Guilt Factor has an enormous impact on the lives of working women and it causes many to deny themselves the very things that would put them back in balance or at least contribute to a more balanced way of living. 

Today working and taking care of families have become ‘extreme sports.’  Society puts idealistic expectations on women to be ‘flawless’ caregivers. From my experience – men don’t lose credibility among coworkers when they have children, but women do.  According to Sylvia Hewlett, president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, “if a woman takes time off to care for children or an older parent, employers tend to see these people as less than fully committed. It’s as though their identity is transformed.”

Women not only face resistance from employers, loved ones, and society but also face resistance from themselves – their perceptions of their roles in life and the guilt they feel for not conforming to someone else’s standard has a powerful effect on their concept of balance.

How then are we ever going to get to a place where we can achieve balance more often between our personal, professional, and emotional needs?

 Well by starting to examine and adjust ‘How You Think’ about your role in your personal and professional lives – then making changes slowly that bring your personal and professional life more in line with what you see as your ideal life.

 Of course this is easier said than done – but it can be achieved if you put your needs right up there with everyone else’s.  And of course this also takes time – personally I started making these types of changes about 8 years ago and today I can say that I can achieve balance in my life more often – especially when I check my ‘thinking’ and make adjustments according to my concept of balance.

So here are some things we can start doing now to change the way we think about our life and the balance that seems to elude us:

 Learn more about yourself and learn to accept that making mistakes is an integral part of any learning process. Learn from the mistakes and use that to define what you do and do not want in your life.

Start giving some things up.  You’ll actually feel a bit of what I liken to ‘withdrawal symptoms’ but persevere.  De-cluttering your life physically and mentally is a very ‘liberating’ experience.

Lose the guilt. It’s not like you’re going to a resort every day. You’re at work. As a career woman, you’re serving as a breadwinner for your family, and that’s an essential role.

Divide the workload fairly. Unless you are a single mom, take the time to negotiate responsibilities with your partner and older children. Avoid conflict with the people in your household by sitting down when you’re not angry and negotiating a fair work distribution.

Be in the moment whether at work or at home. When you are at work then be your professional self and when you are at home be your personal self.  Not easy!  So do something to signal to yourself that you are home from work.  I change my clothes.  Also, don’t if you can help it, bring home work and if you do, then make sure you do it when you get home and then go ‘change your clothes’ and become that personal self.

Communicate with your boss and your coworkers. Set the boundaries and the expectations and reset them as often as you need to.  Clearly outline with your boss the expectations they have for your job, and then make sure that you can follow through. Don’t take it all on and then ‘crash and burn’ because you really couldn’t do it all.  Also, let coworkers and your boss know that when you are at home or on vacation that you are not available for work related tasks. Turn off your email and your cell phone/blackberry and stick to this!  One slip up and they will start calling you outside work hours and expect you to answer.

Negotiate readjusting your schedule. Can you telecommute a few days per week? Is a flex schedule or part time work possible? Discuss this with your employer and see if this is something they can do for you.

Adjust your priorities – put housework lower down the list. Make time for the people in your life – partner, children – sometimes you can forego that ‘spotless kitchen floor’ for an afternoon at the park with the kids, or a lunch date with your partner.

Feel good about the child care you choose. This can be a difficult task. However, you’ll feel much better at work if you know your children are safe.

Schedule partner time. Have a “date night” with take out food and a DVD or simply go out and have dinner and take in a movie.  Doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that you take the time to do it regularly.

Schedule in me-time. Hard-working women need to recharge their batteries, so don’t feel the least bit guilty about taking time for yourself. Get out of the house once in awhile. Indulge in a spa day, lunch with your girlfriends, a hot fudge sundae, or whatever makes you feel good.

Remember, don’t feel guilty, take care of yourself, and try to make these changes slowly and steadily.  Being consistent in your approach, changing your thinking patterns, and gaining support from those that you care about will help you to regain your balance and still be a working woman with a family.

Not sure you can benefit from engaging a Wellness Coach?

Contact me for a Free Consultation Call and Decide For Yourself!

Michelle Potvin H.T. Coun.,

Wellness – A Way of Living

(Connect & Contact on Linked in – http://ca.linkedin.com/in/michellepotvin)

Wellness, a state of mind, body and spirit!


2010/11/22 Posted by | Behaviours, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Stress | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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