With technology at our fingertips, we are all available almost 24x7 to our work. With this lockdown and WFH, the whole ‘work life balance’ has become even more difficult to achieve. Although both men and women face work life balance issues, this is always discussed more from a woman’s perspective. So for me, it was never a question of choosing my career over my personal life. To be honest, that never occurred to me, when I decided to start a family. The only thing I knew was that I wanted both and had to excel at both. I also didn’t put too much thought into how I am going to manage both. I just went with the flow and did what I had to do.
Our advertising and media industry is quite fast-paced with long hectic hours, which often come unannounced, because a crisis can hit any time. So work life balance can become a problem. But the way I see it, is that you can’t compartmentalize the two. Both have to co-exist. You prioritize at a particular point in time what and who needs you more and just do it. For me, work life balance has everything to do with mindset. If you make up your mind that you have to achieve something either personally or professionally, then you will do all it takes to go out and achieve that goal, or at least have a plan in your mind as to how you will get there.
WORKING MOM, HAPPY CHILD
Harvard has been doing a study over the years on the effects of a working mother on children as they grow up. In the last study done in 2019 across 50,000 adults, the result showed that children of working mothers are not only high achievers at work, but also turn out to be happy adults, just as happy as children of non-working mothers. So working mothers, there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty. In fact, remember you are contributing in a big way in raising more successful, well-rounded and gender-unbiased kids.
So how does a career-oriented, working mother hold it all together? Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, has come up with a secret formula for working women to lead a balanced life. She has written a book ‘Pick Three - You Can Have It All, Just Not Everyday’. She says, every day when she wakes up, she picks three of the five things she is going to focus on. The five things are – Work, Sleep, Family, Friends, Fitness. Choose only three of those five things each day to live a happy life. You could choose all five, but then you can do that for a day or two. But if you do it continuously, you will burn out very quickly. This quite resonates with me, and it is my secret formula for managing my life. I would say on most days, my top three are work, kids and fitness.
THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY
There is no right way to do this. Everyone has to find their own way that works for their family and lifestyle. I also do believe that I’m not doing anything exceptional. Everyone around me does it. I see my colleagues at work and my mommy friends, all of them are doing a great job. I get e-mails at 11.30 pm or midnight from work colleagues who are mothers. We’ve done calls at 10.30 pm at night and sometimes even on a Sunday. So, do whatever works for you.
Yes, it is difficult, but with the right support system, everything can be managed. The most important thing is, don’t be afraid to ask for help, from within your family or hired help. Also, delegate different tasks in your home. Get the kids involved in household chores. Fathers and husbands play a great role in nurturing and taking care of the child. Gone are the days when taking care of children, or the home, was just the mother’s responsibility.
To sum up, I believe we as women, can have it all – well, almost. And why shouldn’t we?
Remember the two key words - prioritisation and delegation.
(Adapted from a webinar for Jiyo Parsi)