What is this work-life balance you speak of?

desk with keyboard, glasses, notebook and coffee

For a long time, the idea of a work-life balance seemed an oxymoron to me. Working from home with two small kids means there is no real separation from work and family because let’s be real, kids aren’t the most predictable little animals, so you never know when your working hours are going to be taken over by family responsibilities.

As a work-at-home mom, I get the best and worst of both worlds. I can spend a lot of time with my kids and I have time to do work. Sounds like a dream! But at the same time I can only work mornings when J is at school and evenings when both kids are asleep, and often my working hours are interrupted by swimming lessons, grocery shopping, doctor’s visits…you know, the usual kid stuff.

Then when I’m with the kids I’m often thinking about deadlines. I love my work, so sometimes I resent the fact that I have to take S for a haircut when I should be working on an article or go to a music class when I’m on a creative roll. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I am distracted by thoughts of work when I’m playing with my kids. It’s not really surprising but most of my best creative ideas come when I am with them and not actually thinking about work.

I know I am lucky that I get to spend so much time with my children and be able to work at the same time. I don’t think I would survive only seeing my kids for an hour or two a day no matter how crazy they make me, which is the reality for most parents who work full-time, but I like to work both for financial and intellectual reasons. I cut down on work when my elder son was born but – even though I had very little time to myself – I was so frustrated with not writing as much as I was used to that I started this blog, so clearly I can’t sit around not doing much.

Fast forward 2.5 years later and I now have a 1-year old and a 2.5-year old, a blog, and a steady stream of work. We also have a new house, which brings with it its own share of admin, a ton of social commitments – self-imposed I know but still a part of my life and one I wouldn’t change – and a marriage that needs constant work. Things came to a head earlier this year when I had days when I felt like my work wasn’t working and my family life wasn’t working and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

The thing with us moms is that even when we are in a space like this, we are still functional. We have to be. So I was still able to hand in work on time, get my kids to wherever they needed to be and spend time with friends and generally seem to be on top of things, but every day was a struggle for me. I think my marriage suffered the most, because it was at the bottom of my list of priorities. It’s a horrible feeling when you feel like you should be enjoying every moment but you’re really not enjoying any of it.

father and son walking in forest holding hands

So there I was, drowning in motherhood and marriage and life. I needed help but of course you often don’t realise when you need help the most. But I have strong faith in the powers of the universe and they proved me right yet again when they sent me CONTRACT.

CONTRACT is a boutique consultancy focusing on developing leadership and creating engaging cultures.  

CONTRACT offered me a set of sessions with Judith, one of their coaches. CONTRACT specialize in human resource and organizational development. They work with leaders and their teams to help them be their best both in and outside the workplace. They offer executive and business coaching to help people understand themselves better to gain insight into their life and work. They provide a framework for making sense of team conflict in an effort to decrease behind-the-scenes organizational politics and improve communication, productivity and performance. The focus may be company-oriented but the process is personal.

It might seem like an odd fit for me because I’m not in an organization, but essentially I am my own business and considering the changes my life has gone through in the last few years, this was exactly what I needed to get some clarity, redefine my purpose and find a new normal which was more balanced.

desk with keyboard, glasses, notebook and coffee

So how exactly did CONTRACT help me? Come back tomorrow to find out…

If you’d like to contact CONTRACT for more information on their sessions, please check out their website.

Disclaimer: these sessions were sponsored by CONTRACT but the (issues and) opinions are all my own.

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