We marked International Women’s Day this week, and so it seems a prominent time to share some of my own thoughts around balance, prioritisation and the concept of parental guilt.
I recently heard some valuable advice from an Inclusion Works Podcast that triggered some thoughts for me. The particular quote that stood out was “You can have it all, you can’t do it all”. This really resonated with me. It’s a simple but incredibly powerful point that can be helpful for many people. So often we look around and think, how do they do it? It’s easy to assume and to compare, but the simple and honest truth is that for everyone, prioritisation is key and knowing your own priorities will really help you.
This concept isn’t new; it’s comparable to the economic principle of ‘Opportunity Cost’ – what do we miss out on when choosing one option over another. In nearly every aspect of our lives, we must constantly weigh up what other alternatives we are happy to live without when we choose a certain path. We also need to realise that even the best alternative for us will sometimes require compromises or have a sting in its tail. This is certainly clear for many parents making the decision to return to work and ensuring they create and maintain a healthy balance that’s right for their family.
Setting personal priorities
I started my return to work when my daughter was still quite young and in turn I did suffer from ‘Mum guilt’. However, the more I speak with people the more I realise that the feeling is pretty normal, and not a phenomenon that only affects Mothers. I’ve also realised that the guilt doesn’t really go away either! I think in my situation, I have just gotten better at managing it. For my family, we have embraced the principle of ‘you can have it all, but you can’t do it all’. We also prioritise by considering the ‘opportunity cost’ of doing something to achieve a balance that works for us; whether that’s looking into outsourcing tasks such as walking the dog or hiring a cleaner to help us stay on top of the housework.
Tips to achieve balance
Making sure you can maintain a healthy balance is essential to becoming the best version of yourself. Here are a few tips to help with prioritising:
- Personal drivers: Identify your own personal drivers – what is important to you and your family? Refer back to these and make sure that when you are making choices you are considering your own personal goals and drivers.
- Outsourcing: Is your time, or the sacrifice you are making, worth more than the cost of outsourcing something? Is outsourcing an affordable and sensible option?
- Compromise: Know your trade-off – what gaps or engagements do you have in your week that you are willing to give up?
- Capacity: Be honest with yourself about your capacity. You can have it all, you can’t do it all.
As the theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘#ChooseToChallenge’ – I challenge you to clearly identify your priorities to successfully balance your work and life responsibilities.