Most people’s idea of work life balance is a myth, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Rather, it means, we need to redefine what the concept actually means. In my former life as an employee and editor of a business magazine, I spent a lot of time editing some pretty clichéd articles about work/life balance for business owners.
Having been a business owner myself for the past two years and now being a woman expecting her first child, the concepts of balance, juggling and having it all (or not) are, more relevant to me than ever.
And although there’s no easy, one-fits-all answer to any of it, the good news is that you can work evenings, weekends and into the wee hours and still live a happy, fulfilled and healthy working life. What’s most important is what works for you and the acceptance that that won’t be what works for everyone else. Only you know whether you’re truly happy and what is a healthy balance for you and your loved ones.
I started my blog, Interiors Addict www.theinteriorsaddict.com as a hobby almost four years ago. Just over two years ago, after being made redundant from my magazine job, I decided to give Interiors Addict everything I had in a bid to turn it into a commercial venture.
More than two years later, it is still my job and I’m earning more than I ever did. Earlier this month, six months’ pregnant, I decided it was time to diversify and grow the business and launch a sister site, Reno Addict (www.renoaddict.com), as well as take on my first full-time employee. Crazy? Maybe. Exhausting? Sometimes (and that’s just growing a mini human). Terrifying committing to effectively paying someone else’s rent, bills and super? Definitely! But rewarding, satisfying and fulfilling? Oh my God, yes!
As I prepare to have my first child in a couple of months’ time, I must admit I’m a little jealous of my pregnant friends rejoicing at having “a year off” (especially those in the UK where maternity leave and pay is more generous). I have no doubt trying to juggle it all is unrealistic. I don’t really know how it’s going to pan out, but I know I’ll make it work.
I also know I’m in a great position not having to completely drop one income because my business will keep ticking along without me being ever-present because of the way I’ve set it up. Yes, it will be hard, but long-term I’ve no doubt the flexibility of being my own boss will be a great perk when it comes to parenting.
This doesn’t mean that self-employment is the be all and end all and employee parents with less flexibility don’t have it as good as I do, or will have. Not at all. This is what I mean about what works for you. There is no competition. Some people excel as employees. I did for years, but now I know I am more fulfilled as a business owner.
Some people value being able to leave the office at 5.30pm and come home, knowing it won’t start again until the next day and they’re their own person (and perhaps mum, girlfriend or wife) until then. I’m a night owl that gets some of her best work done after midnight, but if I want to spend the odd afternoon doing what other people would do with their after-work evening time, that’s my business and that’s fantastic.
I make sure I have plenty of quality time with my husband, I don’t get sick from stress or over-work and I absolutely love what I do. So while some people might hate the idea of being “on” at all times, never being able to totally switch off from work, having to sort out (or outsource) their own paperwork and taxes and the responsibility of employing someone, to me, it’s not perfect, but it is my idea of balanced.
If I’ve successfully managed the expectations of my advertisers, published content my readers love, paid people I owe money to, dealt with everyone professionally and kindly and kept my work matters organised and up to date, that’s good enough. I have almost every weekend off but to balance that out I like to work every Sunday evening to get a head start and feel settled for the coming week. It’s not 9 to 5 but it sure works for me. And that’s my judgement to make, not anyone else’s based on their idea of what balance is. But that’s a whole new article!
How does your version of balance play out?
This story originally appeared on Women’s Agenda.