After I informed my mother of my new executive position – a job I could have only dreamed of landing ten years ago, she replied, “Hope you will be able to spend enough time with your family…”. I responded, “Of course I will, Mom, you know that to me, family has always been first priority.”
I’m sure thousands of other women have received a similar response from their mothers after sharing their promotion. Like mine, their mothers are probably happy to hear of their daughter’s most recent professional achievement. During these conversations, however, our mothers bring up a genuine concern and a challenge many women face today. That is, how does a professional woman balance the roles of being a mother and/or wife, on top of their career? Here are a few guiding principles I have found to be helpful in managing a balance between my family life and career.
Personally define what “work-life balance” means to you. We all live in different situations and hold varying degrees of responsibilities; therefore, each of us will have a different work-life balance. Understand that no one can define where the appropriate balance is but you. When you are in the process of defining your balance, include your spouse (or significant other) and consider your job’s expectations.
Establish parameters and communicate them. After you’ve defined your work-life balance, establish parameters that ensure the balance is upheld. Then, confidently communicate those parameters amongst your family, workplace and friends. In doing so, you are setting the expectations others place upon you and by managing those expectations, you are managing your dual roles.
Stick to your guns. Don’t be afraid to say no to a request that requires you to go beyond your work-life parameters. Work is going to take as much as you give it – that’s just the nature of business. It’s your responsibility as a mother (maybe wife) and an employee, to communicate your boundaries and remind your colleagues what they are if they forget.
The question of my mother’s generation is being answered by many women today. Balancing the roles of family life and a career is possible and is accomplished by women nationwide on a daily basis.