“It was loud, kids were happily jumping in the soft play area inside the mall. My nanny had gone on holiday to see her family. My 3 year old tugged at my leg asking me to join him. I took off my shoes as he led me on the soft carpet. It was a very long time since I had done that. The nanny used to escort the kids inside as I sipped on my coffee and perhaps finished up something on my laptop. Today, I had decided to shut everything out and focus on having quality time with my kids.
We started out on the slide and before I knew it I was having the time of my life laughing and jumping. The true child I had inside was enjoying each and every moment. It was fun and it was a great exercise. All women including housewives who were standing outside waiting for their kids to return with their housemaids stared with judging eyes as I laughed loudly, probably thinking to themselves “how childish!”
As I made my way up the stairs with my son, who had grateful and happy eyes, I felt a tug on my trousers.
I looked down, “ My name is Brenda , can I play with you?”
“Of course,” I said.
Before I knew it I had an army of ten kids were following myself and my 3 year old up and down, as I lead the clan. He repeated to the kids proudly, “That is my mom!”
At that point I noticed that my kids have everything they need to live a happy and fulfilling life. Yet they don’t have something that only I can give them and that is “ My full attention.” This doesn’t apply only to my kids but every kid in that play area who played with us. Each and everyone wished for their moms to be there rather than have nannies over look them play. ”
I meet intellectual, smart, bright and talented women everyday; women who work day and night to pursue their careers. They speak impeccably and inspire everyone they meet. They are driven by ambition and hope. They are confident and capable of achieving. With their well-paid jobs, they are willing to make sure they will not leave the world without a trace and that they will make a difference empowering others and helping them lead sustainable lives. They have achieved a lot and yet are willing to take the time and effort to build their future and be part of an effective ecosystem. These women make me proud; these women achieve their goals because of the passion that drives them and the love for their jobs and little empires.
I look up to these women but yet sometimes disagree with their style of life. This article isn’t an article that criticizes a working women’s life style, it is an article that could raises awareness on various aspects, as I am a working woman myself and there have been many months where I was placed in their shoes.
As working women in the Middle East , we live life with a morning to-do list on what should be done at work and what chores should be completed at home. Between prepping the kids for school, to drop offs and pick ups, to making sure they have done their homework, to making sure they are eating well and then of course there is the hassle of maintaining a social life if you are married and making sure that most members of your family are happy and satisfied.
We live life not noticing that we are actually living. Each day passes while we tick off the to do list, making sure that the basics are met at home as we are driven by ambition, success and the love of the world we have created for our selves away from routine responsibilities at home. I like to call it “my little bubble”. It makes you feel young, impactful and alive again.
As we are feeding our egos and success we are forgetting the little ones that await us at home to tell us what happened at school, to tell us their achievements, troubles and accomplishments. They are here because we brought them to this world and it is our responsibility to guide them through it to make them balanced individuals ready to seek their own lives. They await that pat on the back to build their confidence that would make them build a successful tomorrow. Now that being said, how is it that we can maintain a work life balance? How can we have high paid jobs, be the successful and reach the top of the world yet at the same time give all the support and love we need to maintain our families, a healthy life style and full fill our home responsibilities. The answer is “ We can’t”.
There is no such thing as a perfect work life balance. However, you can compromise. As in, give up something for a better balance. Below are a few tips you can keep in mind:
- Let go of being perfect. You don’t need to perfect the things you do. Overachievers can be destructive. Perfecting one thing can let you miss out on other things.
- Make sure you have your time split accordingly giving equal amount of your time for work and your family. Keep in mind that just like you have 8 hours to devote to your work, you have the same number of hours to devote to your family.
- Unplug. Once you want to take some off time. Disconnect from your phone, Internet and anything that could distract you from your other chores or commitments.
- Make sure you leave some time for yourself. Go get a massage, unwind and disconnect from any responsibilities that you have. Do something you love, it could be work or anything; just make sure its an hour completely devoted to yourself. Ask yourself the question, “ What do I want to do in that hour?” and go ahead and do it! A happy person will deliver great outputs at home and at work.
- Don’t waste your time on unnecessary people or activities. Time is precious; use it wisely with the right people. As an hour given to someone unnecessary could be used somewhere else.
- Hit two birds with one stone. For example: Spend quality time with the people you love while exercising.
- Finally and most importantly, live! You don’t want to skim through life but you want to live through each moment and enjoy it with the people you love and appreciate.