It’s no secret that I’m a proponent of making work work. As you’ll see in my “Look Before You Leap” webinar, I advise women to think carefully about both short-term emotions and long-term needs before they leave the workforce. And I’m always looking for wisdom from other experts who can help women solve the work/don’t work dilemma.
If you’re feeling that work is invading your home life, once read a great Forbes article you should read: “Forget Work-Life Balance: It’s Time for Work-Life Blend“. I’ve already given up that balance word because it is just not possible, and as I’ve said many times, seesaws are always uneven. I like the idea of fit (which is why my web site tagline is “Find the Work that Fits Your Life”). And I like the idea of a work-life “blend”, too.
In blending you have a little of this and a little of that or a lot of one or the other. It doesn’t necessarily have to be equal parts of blue and yellow to make green. You can have many shades of green, and in the same way there is no single formula for the shade of work you want in your life.
The article points out the obvious: our professional lives bleed into our personal lives. But then there is a great suggestion: “maybe we need to accept the fact that the sharp demarcation between work and home is a thing of the past, and that the new normal is a life that integrates home and work more seamlessly”.
Terrific concept, but to do this many women would need a guilt-ectomy. Women feel great guilt when they have to take a call in the middle of dinner or work on a Saturday afternoon. I know that many men are different: my husband did not walk around with a guilt pit in his stomach when he spent an entire beach vacation closing a deal in an air-conditioned room, when he has had three business dinners in a row or when he has taken calls on the sidelines of school field hockey games.
He doesn’t feel guilty and I don’t make him feel guilty because I understand that business cannot always be perfectly timed. Though I understand these truths about business, I hold myself to an entirely different standard—thinking that my daughters will say (on a psychiatrist couch at some later date) that I was glued to my phone and computer instead of tending, relentlessly, to their every need.
The Forbes article made me think about how, as our children get older, we encourage them to have lives outside of our families. An older nanny we once had told me that from the moment the umbilical cord is cut, we start to prepare our children for independence. We want our children to have their own lives—to have interests and activities that they find and pursue on their own—yet we feel guilty for the work lives we lead out of those same homes.
The draw to leave work entirely would be less intense if we could be less rigid about what is “supposed to be” work or non-work time. With great regularity there are home and family issues that will come up at the office, and work issues that will come up at home. That’s okay, because we’ve got to do our best to blend two important lives—the one inside and the one outside of our homes. It’s a good life lesson that accommodates the independence we need as children and adults. Children go to school and play at home. We go to work and play with them at home. Often work time blends into play time—whether it’s homework from school or a call from your boss.
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