10 signs you haven’t achieved a work / life balance

6a00e54eee09528834019b013f2d0a970b-500wiThis weekend I attended the marvellous Blogfest, organised by Mumsnet, and indulged myself in all things blogging (for a whole day, with food, caffeine, David Baddiel and wine). Aside from sitting on my favourite Mexican beach, it doesn’t get better than this (sorry husband, children,  clients etc) – did I mention David Baddiel?

Whilst there, I attended a debate hosted by a distinguished (Margaret Atwood FFS!) and glamorous panel of women who discussed whether having children stifles creativity. Inevitably the debate turned to the issue of working parents / stay at home parents and whether we can truly ever “have it all.”

As a mum of two juggling a freelance career, I can safely say “no.” It seems to me that you lug about giant suitcases packed full of guilt and worry whether you stay at home (is my career suffering, will I ever be able to get back into the workplace, why am I now expected to volunteer for the PTA and every parent helper duty required?) or if you work (my kid hates nursery, I am always on my phone, am I even doing a good job at either?). In the end, there was no real conclusion to the debate, but it made me think about the well-used ‘work-life balance’ phrase, and wonder if anyone actually has it?

Here are my top 10 signs you haven’t achieved a work-life balance yet:

  1. In order to take an important conference call you put your children in the garden, and when they complain feed them snacks through the cat flap whilst retaining your professional voice.
  2. You attend a new business meeting with doodles scrawled across your notepad and produce a plastic Peppa Pig instead of a pen after 5 minutes of rummaging around the change bag which is masquerading today as a handbag.
  3. Your meeting attire is not quite what it used to be, due to the fact the entire outfit, hair and make up was put together in 5 minutes after dressing and feeding two other people first and dodging Weetabix wielding toddlers.
  4. You can send press releases and tweets whilst simultaneously cooking scrambled eggs and reading the latest Biff and Kipper homework.
  5. Your children’s games now involve a laptop and phone whilst they ignore you and snap “in a minute mummy.”
  6. During your working day, you also manage to do a weekly online shop, wash uniforms, plan dinner, read through five different letters from school and still get more done than you would have pre-children when you worked in an office.
  7. Upon hearing a ‘ding’ you’re unsure as to whether it’s the oven, your phone, email, alarm clock or toy.
  8. The childcare logistics involved in attending a 9.00am meeting reduces you to tears.
  9. You wake up in the night to check and send emails (and then use scheduler for 8am so no-one thinks you’re a total weirdo).
  10. Alongside invoices and meeting notes, your intray also features printed instructions on how to make an elf costume, a Minecraft cake, and five sets of raffle tickets for the school fair.

Whatever your situation, one thing is for sure – parenting is hard. We need to lose those suitcases and give ourselves a break. We’re all doing the best we can, and that’s good enough for me (although a few more days out at blog conferences wouldn’t go amiss)…









2 thoughts on “10 signs you haven’t achieved a work / life balance

  1. Oh that did make me giggle – I’m employed rather than freelance but so much of it is still true and oh so very very familiar, especially on the days when I work from home! A very wise friend of mine once told me that work life balance was a nonsense because something would always be out of kilter and it was all about integration instead – I think she’s right, I’m just still working on making it actually look like that in practice!


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