I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen this headline used in news stories promoting fabulous circus shows, like Cirque du Soleil, referring to the seemingly impossible feats some of the performers are able to do – be it the balancing of an amazing number of people in a human pyramid, an individual contortionist balancing on one hand while twisted into a backward pretzel-shape or a plate-spinner keeping a dozen plates spinning simultaneously on stilts across a stage. As a working mom, I feel like I can relate a little to all of these acts.
From the many responsibilities I keep “spinning” each day, in both my home and work roles, to the number of people I sometimes feel are resting on my shoulders, being a working mom is definitely a balancing act. But, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am blessed to have both a successful career and a healthy family, and I’ve learned that in order to keep them that way, I have to work at it. As any circus performer – or any successful professional – will tell you, focus is the key to making magic happen, and I’ve adapted this philosophy to my work-life balance. When I’m at work, I focus on work, so that when I’m at home, I can focus on my family.
I have a list of responsibilities for both roles, and I have specific times to get them done. If I don’t get my laundry, grocery shopping and house cleaning done on the weekend, my family will run out of clean clothes to wear by Wednesday; we’ll start running through unhealthy drive-thrus by Thursday; and by Friday, I won’t even want to come home to my house!
On the reverse, if I don’t stay ahead of my deadlines at work, I have to take it home and try to find time to finish it up between cooking dinner, soccer practices, homework and bath/bedtime routines. That usually means getting in bed with my laptop and ignoring my husband. I really don’t want to do that.
For me, focus comes from advance planning, making lists and attacking the to-dos under the time clock for each role. My friends and family members often say to me “I don’t know how you do it all,” and I often say “I just do.” That’s what it takes to keep my balancing act going, my career advancing and my family growing together.
To me, my life is a full life, and that’s what I’ve always wanted. While most of the time, applause doesn’t come at the end of my balancing act, I’m confident that I’m doing the best that I can in the many roles I play in life. And, that’s unbelievably satisfying.