Scratch Work-life Balance! We’re Embracing Work-life Harmony.

by | Nov 8, 2022

Whether you are parents of newborns, soon-to-be parents or parents of toddlers and preschoolers, you have a few choice options on how to best integrate your professional and personal life. It’s either in-office working, hybrid work circumstances or complete remote working. Kim Jansen explores the realities of work situations that call for unusual working days and explores the notion of work-life harmony rather than the traditional work-life balance.

The thought of balance brings to mind scales with equal amounts of weight. Speak to any parent and you will soon realise that the construct of this “balancing act” is even less helpful today than it was when it was first coined. Dr Patti Fletcher of the Forbes Human Resources Council suggests, “The concept of work-life balance had become totally obsolete, a remnant from when we actually left our work at the office.” I want to emphasise to all the parents reading: you cannot be all things to all people all the time, and the sooner you make peace with that, the sooner you will find the harmony I believe we’re all looking for. Here are a couple of things to remember before we look at ways to work towards work-life harmony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You’re juggling many balls, especially when you first become a parent. Accept all the help you can get at the office or at home. The ancient wisdom of “it takes a village to raise a child” is part of the very fabric of society for a reason.
  • Staying in “flow” is a good thing. Flow doesn’t allude to a lack of structure but acknowledges that the routine or structure that works for you when your baby is a newborn may need to adapt when they are six months old.
  • Guilt will not serve you. This is a difficult one because we’re human. But in reality, most of us reading this need to and want to work. Giving more attention to your work when required doesn’t make you a bad parent. Take the time to assess when you need to channel more energy into your work and when you need to re-direct that energy to your family.

 

The meaning of harmony is a beautiful one. The Maryville University Blog articulates it beautifully: “Work-life balance refers to how people manage the time they dedicate to work and the time they spend on other activities. Work-life harmony involves incorporating work into the rest of life in a way that promotes happiness at home and in the office.”

How is this done?

  • Set boundaries, for home and work. Understand the give and take. Know that a typical 9-5 will fall away under various circumstances. Having said that, know when you need your time to be respected.
  • Stay present. When you’re at the office, be fully engaged. When you’re home, be fully in the moment with your family. Being at the office while feeling guilty when you’re with your family, and vice versa doesn’t serve you. All it does is incite resentment.
  • Communicate. Rather than ruminate over negative thoughts and assume your manager won’t understand that you would like to attend your child’s Spring Day Tea, communicate that you need a few hours of personal time and demonstrate how you will make that time up before or after. Communicate with your partner or support network. Rather than assume your partner knows you need to make up some additional work time, communicate that you need extra work time. Often, a simple conversation goes a long way in attaining the work-life harmony we’re looking for.
  • Say yes to you! Sometimes you need an extra 15 minutes of reading time, or you would prefer to prioritise a date with your spouse instead of being out with friends or at a playdate. Understand what your needs are and say yes to them.
  • Stay flexible. This relates to staying in the flow. Flexibility allows you to prioritise and communicate effectively. This leads to creating a routine that will foster harmony.
  • Find joy in what you do. While purpose is an essential topic, finding joy and purpose in your work isn’t spoken about often. Finding purpose in your role in your family is not spoken about often enough, either. So often, we focus on the long lists we have as parents to tick off or the seemingly insurmountable tasks that we need to accomplish at the office. However, what if we change our language and perspective for a few minutes a day to incorporate purpose and joy?

 

Sometimes, prioritising your family means putting in the extra work to meet their needs. Channel your energy and focus on where you are right now, and you will find greater joy in your work when you’re at work and a more profound connection with your family when you’re with them. Let’s embrace work-life harmony!