I was recently asked about doing a speech on work life balance for a real estate business school. When chatting with the client I shared that I have a special place in my heart for realtors. After all, my father, mother, and sister are all licensed (currently non practicing) realtors and my husband works for a real estate company. You could almost say real estate is a family tradition of ours.
When thinking about the topic of work-life balance I had a flashback to my childhood. When I was little my dad would drive us around to look at his listings. With his Polaroid camera he would take pictures and then quiz my sister and I on what type of house it was: split level, bi level, Victorian, colonial, Tudor?
Although it never occurred to me at the time, I realize now that this was my dad’s version of work-life balance – including us in the work. And what’s more, I’ve been unwittingly doing the same thing with my children.
My boys first came with me to a talk in Orlando, when they were much younger. I could see them in the back of the room looking bored and throwing themselves over daddy’s lap while just waiting to go to Disney World. Then last year they came with me to Hong Kong, and although I couldn’t look at them for fear of my nerves taking over during the speech, my husband shared that they were attentive throughout and my eldest, at 9, even shared what he learned. Talk about a proud mom!
Finding work-life balance doesn’t have to be about how you split your time between the two. It can be, and almost must be, about incorporating them into each other, sharing what you love about each with the other, and giving both of them your best all at once.
So if you’re thinking about how to keep doing what you do and hopefully love, while focusing on your valuable personal life too, here are three ideas for you:
1. Bring them with you! Bring Your Kid to Work Day doesn’t have to happen just once a year. Bring your loved ones into your work environment, whatever that may be. If you have to catch up on work on the weekend, take the time to explain what you are doing and show them a spreadsheet or PowerPoint deck. Find appropriate times when you can introduce them to your workplace and your coworkers. Show them your work space and all the pictures you have of them around it – they’ll love it!
2. Talk with them about what they learned. Ask what they found interesting about your work space, what they may not have understood, and even what was boring. Ask them to think about what school subjects they think are needed to do the job you do. I bet you’ll be surprised at some of the things they share.
3. Get their input! Now that they have experienced a taste of what you do, see if they have any ideas. Where a young child might make the observation that you don’t have enough candy on your desk, an older child, friend, or family member might have some insight into how you can rearrange your space or relate better to that difficult coworker. They might even say something like, “Wow, work you is awesome!” You never know…
People talk about balance as if they are opposite sides of the scale. Instead I like to think about it as fitting and melding the two together. Bringing your work and personal lives together can be daunting – but it’s something that can be necessary for sticking to your commitment to both. Inviting your personal life into your work, and vice versa, shows each that they are valuable to you!