Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning: achieving perfect work-life balance is not for the faint of heart. It’s like walking a tight rope with arms outstretched, constantly shifting your weight to avoid falling off on either side. There are a lot of moms out there who seem to be pros, but keep in mind that even the most experienced tightrope walkers don’t live on the rope all the time! They slowly master stretches, first balancing for 10 feet, then 20, then 50, etc. Eventually, with plenty of practice (and falls), they can cross canyons without blinking an eye.
At Adventist Health System, we have an entire troop of tightrope walkers, a.k.a. working moms, who are driven, smart, and caring. They enrich our work with their talents and at the same time, amaze us by raising beautiful families. Even though none of them claim to be pros at this thing called work-life balance, they do have some tips to share from their personal journeys to help other moms on the ropes.
1. Adjust Your Schedule
As a mother of three young boys and a senior decision support analyst at Headquarters, Magally certainly has her hands full!
She says, "Having a perfectly balanced home and work life is always the goal, but after having my third son, I quickly learned it’s not always possible. Either my home was a mess, but my kids were happy because I played Legos with them, or I’m happy because my home is clean, but I feel guilty because I didn’t give the kiddos any time that day. What’s a mom to do?
"Ultimately for this chapter of my life the only thing that made sense for my family was for me to go part time at work. Having the extra time at home allows me to care for my baby and keep things running well at home. The kids are only little once, so for now I’m feeling at peace with this decision.”
If cutting back your work hours sounds like the right decision for you, check out our part-time job openings.
Alternatively, consider ways to adjust your schedule to maximize family time, like Jeanine, a critical care nurse at Florida Hospital New Smyrna.
Jeanine says, "I maintain my work and family life by trying to coordinate my schedule with the same days off as my husband. This way we can have time together as family instead of individual days off. As nurses, it can be hard to see each other when we are working odd, inconsistent hours. The best advice I can give is not to overwork yourself and always take time do to things with your family, like going on trips!"
2. Take Care of Your Own Needs
Moms are always taking care of others - sometimes at the expense of their own needs. Jen, a marketing manager at Florida Hospital Tampa says, "I learned early on that I cannot be the best version of myself at work or at home if I don't take the time to nurture my own needs too. Whether it's getting in some much-needed exercise, a little extra rest, a laugh-fest with good friends, or a quiet dinner with my husband, I have found that by making time for myself, I am healthier, happier, and less stressed, and I can truly be present and enjoy precious moments with my girls."
3. Cultivate a Life of Prayer & Gratitude
As wonderful as kids are, they can also be exhausting, especially if you're a single mom who's going to school full time and working two jobs like Keshande, a patient care tech at Florida Hospital Altamonte. What's her secret to finding balance while keeping up with three active boys?
"Having a prayer life is what keeps me going," she says. "Not one day goes by that I don't have a talk with my savior, Jesus Christ. Also, reading my Bible when I can, when I'm down and feel weak, and that I can't make it, or just feeling like giving up because life is just getting HARD and it seems like nothing around me is getting better or paying off. I go to the word and read Philippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.'"
Tricia, a clinical specialist at Florida Hospital Tampa, also has a special way of finding balance through prayer and gratitude. She says, "I try and never take for granted that God gave me these two girls to raise and nurture. I feel in order to keep a work-life balance, God must be in the center of my life. I keep a blessing jar on the table and every night, each family member writes down one thing they feel blessed about for that day. We place it in the jar and then share this moment with each other."
4. Turn Off the Technology
With access to email right in our pockets, sometimes the greatest challenge in maintaining balance is disconnecting from work through our phones. Jen, executive director of strategic communications and community relations at Florida Hospital Tampa, has a great solution for this.
She says, "As I reflect on the meaning of work-life balance, I think the one thing that works for our family is quality time. We really work hard to make sure when we are together, we are fully present. My husband and I have busy careers, but our kids know they always come first! We also have a 'phone basket' at home - place your cell phone in the basket! This is a great way to physically disconnect and sit down for family dinners, play Legos, or just have fun together."
Mandy, a nurse at Adventist Care Centers, also finds balance by carving out technology-free time to spend with her family.
She says, “One thing that my husband and I do to maintain a work-life balance with our three kids is that we frequently take our camping trailer and do little weekend getaways. We love to trout fish, camp, and cook s'mores by the fire. One rule is that when we do camping, we have zero technology allowed. We go hiking and just enjoy the great outdoors.”
5. Go With the Flow
No matter how much we prepare, there will always be situations that arise that are not in our playbooks.
Loren says, “The truth is, things are bound to go wrong: spilled cereal, lost shoes, traffic. I try to remember to relax and keep moving. Quick thinking, patience, and a calm mind are important in the home and in the office. While we cannot control everything that happens, we can certainly control our reactions. Our children, our patients, and our colleagues are all affected by our presence, and a ‘go with the flow’ attitude can sometimes be the best medicine.”
If you are a busy mom who works to maintain a healthy work-life balance, we would love to hear from you. Comment below with a picture, and a little bit about what you do to keep a successful balance in your busy world.