Having It All, At Work, At Home...
“I don’t know how you do it” is a phrase I hear often from family, co-workers and even strangers.
What they are referring to, is that I am a full time, Human Resources professional who is available by phone, text and email 24 hours a day, as well as mother and wife, also available 24 hours a day.
The fact is, I don’t do it all because there is no way that I possibly could. As a working (outside the home) parent of a six year old and a one year old, I have to do a lot of planning, communicating and make choices. Those choices include: sticking to routine; shopping online for products, food, and items that keep things simple; asking for and accepting help; and saying no to attending or participating in some events – all personal and work related. Yes, I frequently decline weeknight activities, because swaying from the routine wreaks havoc on our family balance. Yes, I buy pre-packaged snacks for my kids to have access to something quick to eat. Yes, I turn down committee seats that would elevate my career.
Some people or other parents may criticize me, and other may envy our family choices. Some people would call this sacrifice or compromise. Sometimes it looks like that, but for me – I am choosing what works best for me and my family at the time. I don’t consider it a sacrifice or compromise, because this is what I want.
Having to make these choices does come with some consequences, which are different for many people. For me, the consequence is the guilt I feel or the feeling that I’m missing out on something.
When I’m at work I am usually “in the zone” solely focused on work. There are many times (like every day) I am quickly shutting down my laptop, stuffing files into my bag and rushing out the door, so I am not late (again) for daycare pickup. But it’s the days where I have to call in to stay home with a sick kid, get the emergency call from daycare, or have a half day to attend a school or doctor appointment that I have that constant worry that somewhere, someone is thinking that I’m not giving my full attention to work because I have kids. I also have to identify the professional opportunities that I can take on, or need to decline, due to limited bandwidth. In reality, that majority of my co-workers are supportive and understanding, and know that I do give 100% at work, and see my performance. Luckily they are also good at providing feedback, so I am more confident that I am performing well.
When I am at spending time with my kids, and an urgent work call or email comes in, or even dropping them off at daycare before I go to work gives me a twinge of guilt that I’m not giving 100% to my kids. I worry that they will have resentment that I’m not a stay-at-home-mom. As my daughter enters kindergarten, I will have to make choices on what school events that I can contribute to or participate in. I do my best to explain, I go to work because I love what I do, not because I have to. Also, that I participate or don’t participate to school and kid activities because I want to (or don’t want to), not because I have to or can’t.
I love my job and I love my family. Right now, am doing what I enjoy with my family and with my career, leveraging my strengths to the best of my ability to keep our life simple. It may seem like I am doing it all, and the truth is I am not doing everything because I can’t and I won’t. Right now this is perfect for me.