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When the work-life balance scales tip over

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time

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A good friend once told me that she thinks it’s hilarious that I write about work-life balance when I  have so little of it myself. I tell them that I really write about juggling work and life, my full-time career and full-on family, which means that when it comes to balance, I’m the fulcrum on which it rests, not the one who actually achieves it.

But still, she’s right. And now that my primary office is inside my own house, the scales have tipped way over to the work side of things. Which means that I need to do a better job of going from “work mode” to “home mode.”

When I was commuting 1 1/2 hours each way each day, I would try to make my commute my “me time,” listening to cheesy ’80s music that made my former-rock-music-critic husband roll his eyes when I turned it on at home. Now? At the end of the work day I commute downstairs to my kitchen — and I sometimes leave my smart phone, that electronic leash that binds me to work, upstairs in my office.

I often cook to relax, so I try to make extras of anything I’m cooking on the weekend or early in the week. That way, by the time Thursday and Friday roll around and I’d cheerfully drink a couple glasses of Malbec and call it dinner, there’s a balanced meal already in the fridge, ready to heat and eat.

But the biggest thing I’ve done is accept that I can’t do it all perfectly, and embrace certain short cuts. In spite of our superpowers, we are simply human. It took me a long time to understand that having to say “this much of my to-do list is just not going to get done today” was OK and sometimes necessary and not at all a sign of failure. And it took me even longer to remember that I could fake clean the house and wash the clothes but not always fold them. And that I could tear open a bag of Orange Chicken from Trader Joe’s and heat that up for my kids instead of feeling annoyed that I couldn’t make it from scratch myself. My kids don’t mind, I get a break, and that Malbec isn’t going to drink itself.

How do you go from work mode to home mode? And what part of that juggle do you struggle with?



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