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Balancing Family and Career

 I’m currently going through a parenting transition. In the future, most of my clients will go through something similar, while some may have already experienced it.  This transition is one that I knew would come one day, but even as recently as the summer of this year, I had no real idea what it would feel like. That transition is having NO children in primary school! Some of what I predicted has come true, but other changes have come at me like a curve ball. However, the thing that remains consistent is how this shift has changed how I think about balance. Today, I want to share my thoughts on why it is OK to change your mind about balance.

Let me take you back, if I may, to November 2015. The first week of that month, to be precise. It was my first week of self-employment with The Balance Collective. My daughters were aged nine and three.  There were expectations of school drop off and pick-ups, a variety of afterschool activities and unexpected sickness. This was the week that my youngest developed Chicken Pox! But I knew what I needed to maintain some balance, after the 15 years spent working, post-graduation, in traditional employment.  I also considered what balance I wanted to craft in this new role of “boss”; what would my days look like when I could set the schedule? I had clear ideas about balance, and I communicated them with firmness and, I hope, clarity.

I am now eight years on, and both my children are in secondary education. As all teenagers and tweenagers do, I do not always need to be physically present; but their emotional needs are just as important. On top of that, they are going through fast-paced and impactful changes themselves, and need me to be around, even if it’s just to pass snacks over the bedroom door threshold!

So, what does this mean for the idea of balance? When the girls were little, I pictured this period of my life differently. The one thing I expected was not to be as bound to the school-run timetable; for various reasons, that relaxation hasn’t happened! What I have experienced and been able to gain lots of evidence over this time around what works for my balanced career, is the importance of clarity, communication and, surprisingly, flexibility!

This brings me to the crux of this week’s topic, where I occasionally see my clients get frustrated or overwhelmed with the idea of balance. Frameworks and expectations are an excellent thing to have. Rules such as:

When you are contactable

Your turnaround time for responding.

Your finishing time.

The information that is necessary for you to make professional, or personal, decisions.

Your values around time, resources, and money

The skills you will share and activities you will get involved in.

There are moments when you might want to say both “NO” and “YES” to something, but those responses conflict with the boundaries you’ve established. Maybe it’s some work that takes you outside of your normal working hours or something you usually say YES to, but your “cup” is full right now. This is the moment to remind yourself you are not an algorithm; you are a person. Having a situational response based on what is driving you is OK!  You can flex what balance looks like if it brings you balance; it doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to revert to those boundaries in the future.

But “How?”,  I hear you ask. Well, this is where a little preparation comes into play. Having a few ready-made phrases helps you define, whilst flexing your boundaries. For example:

“As standard, I don’t work beyond 3 p.m., but on this occasion, I want to be involved in this project, so I can adjust my schedule. However, this is not a permanent change, so anything in the future will need to be completed by 3 pm”.


“Usually this is right up my street, but my schedule is full right now and I won’t be able to give it the attention it deserves. Are will able to move it to (Insert date that works”

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, take some time to notice how others around you communicate their boundaries, and what happens when they flex them! Don’t wait for permission from someone else to craft the balance you want right now, and don’t be bound to what you needed in the past. I’d love to know how and why you flex your boundaries. Come over to Creating Careers to Enjoy and share your tips!

If you would like to speak more about my support, and the budget you have available, then book a call here.