Family life

Work-life balance

Today’s tips and thoughts

Yep! After women’s right to vote and feminism, women still have to fight. This time, they do it with men as well ! The work-life balance reality affects most parents today and is probably our generation’s biggest battle. This balance is most often not achieved in the blink of an eye. Just as with many other situations, the key to success is to get into action.

Thirty or forty years ago, men were traditionally the wage-earners and women stayed home to raise the kids. Today, more and more mothers work outside the home. As an indication, 25-44 year-old women’s participation rates reached 82.3% in 2010, compared to 48.4% in 1976. A Quebec study (available in French only) conducted in 2005 revealed that nearly 75% of workers had difficulty balancing their work with their family responsibilities.

In 2006, I asked 120 parents to answer a survey to validate these numbers personally. The goal was to develop a market study about balancing work and family life when I was starting my business ÉquiLibre travail famille loisirs.

The following outlines the results of this “non-scientific” survey:

96 % of respondents sometimes feel overwhelmed:

  • For 75 %, it causes fatigue at work;
  • For 80 %, it affects the quality of their exchanges with family members;
  • For 91 %, the time allocated to leisure activities is also affected.
You’re not alone!

It’s reassuring, isn’t it? But beware! It’s not a reason to hide behind this exhausting lifestyle. Our society’s constant and persistent acceleration has often been seen as progress because it used to bring more good than harm. But since the mid-90s, the balance has changed. We must therefore find ways to balance the pace of life. The government and some companies are currently evaluating ways of reducing the harmful economic and human impact emerging from the difficulty to balance work and family life (flexible schedules, parental leaves, etc.).

I personally approach the problematic in an entirely different perspective in order to contribute positively to the work initiated by the government and some businesses. The areas I’m targeting are related to the family and leisure structures. In other words, it means organizing the home, planning fast and healthy menus, allocating time for leisure and for the couple and managing priorities.

Good advice

There’s unfortunately no secret recipe! A coach’s main objective is not to give advice. Every family is different anyway! How can you know if a an advice such as “cook two chickens at a time” suits your family? A person who knows how to cook will see the efficiency of freezing cooked pieces for an eventual quick recipe, while a person who hates to cook will see it as an added chore.

That’s why a coach will ask the right questions to help the person find her own solutions, think about new possibilities and new ways to do things that will be more efficient in terms of time and energy in the context of HER life.

Relevant questions

To achieve a balance, you might have to go through an imbalance. It’s normal to get out of your comfort zone to reach a state of well-being. Being aware of the following elements can also help you get closer to your goal:

  • What’s my definition of a balanced life?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What can I do to make it happen?

It’s not always easy. You’ll often encounter some barriers:

  • Having difficulty to delegate;
  • Being an excessive perfectionist;
  • Being afraid of change.

The most important thing now is to take action!

Examples

  • Stop working late or bringing some work at home;
  • Tidy up the house regularly;
  • Set aside a couple’s night or family day.

Here’s what the Dalai Lama answered a journalist who asked him how he could be so calm despite his tumultuous life :

- "When I eat, I eat; when I walk, I walk; and when I listen to a person, I listen to a person."

- Not satisfied with the answer, the journalist replied : "Well, so do I..."

- The Dalai Lama then said : "When you eat, you think; when you walk, you run; and when you listen to someone, you think about what you’ll answer next."

This anecdote really shows that « living in the present » can change the unpleasant feeling of always being overwhelmed. I wish you to fully live every moment of a work-life balance, just like the life YOU have chosen.

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