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Fittingly Mad: The Myth of Work/Life Balance

I have a full time job. I have two young daughters. I have a husband who I actually enjoy hanging out with, not that I see him much one-on-one. I have hobbies — well, "hobbies" might be a slight exaggeration. There are many activities I enjoy: running, pushing my girls on the swing at the park, baking cakes and pies, studying Spanish, learning how to dance salsa, learning how to sew...but I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to fulfill all my obligations and do the things I want to do. I just can't seem to find the elusive balance between life and work.

Magazine covers are filled with the promise that I can have it all: career, family and "me" time. I can be sexy, successful and maternal all with the blink of an eye, or the flip of a glossy page. For me though, there is no equilibrium, and I feel like I am falling short on all fronts. I always think the problem, the chronic feelings of dissatisfaction and failure, is me. The reason I feel unbalanced is that I haven't tried hard enough to figure it all out.

After trying to find balance for years, I have decided to give up the chase. First off, this idea of perfect balance is a myth. There really is no "balance," although there may be tipping points — but I digress. There really are too many things to do than there are hours in the day. I can make lists and strategize and then beat myself up for not meeting my expectations, but that really seems the opposite of balance.

In all honesty, I have been wasting time searching for the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is no gold and there is no perfect balance between life and work. All the details of my life ebb and flow, I am going to try and ride the waves of activity that run through my life. I am going to give up the eternal search for balance. Yep, I am going to take stock in what I have and what is going on. It is a 360 degree perspective, not a this-or-that.

Am I the only one out here that feels this? I'd love to hear about your battle with the life / work balance. Tell me all about it in the comments section below.

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Sungoddess379 Sungoddess379 9 years
Amen to that phatE!
Sungoddess379 Sungoddess379 9 years
Amen to that phatE!
phatE phatE 9 years
in all honesty, stop looking at magazines and society to tell you what you can and can't have. especially when it's not working out and making you crazy. don't compare yourself to others, just do the best you can do, and set boundaries in areas you can, and you'll find that "balance". also, their definition of "balance" and yours may be different.. who are they to say what the ideal is? the ideal is what works for you, and your family.. is that easy, and will you have hours of extra time to workout and go to the spa? probably not.. but that's also not the season of life you're in. when your kids are grown, things will be different, but now, enjoy the crazy ride for what it is and remember that each phase you won't get back, make the most of it and enjoy it.
blackjade blackjade 9 years
If we could seriously consider raising kids on a continent different from my family, hubby and I would move to Europe in a heartbeat *sigh* Cravinsugar - I don't know how demanding your job is but I think you could feel fulfilled working 6 hours/day. A lot of what we think we need to be fulfilled is based how we've been conditioned. For a while I worked in a office where people rarely (if ever) took vacation - it was such the norm that I felt odd taking a much earned 1 week trip - sometimes it's all about the job culture. Also, people (women) are made to feel bad if we can't do it all, or have to ask for help. My husband does the laundry (he reads tags - I don't), and the vacuuming while I do the bathroom and we pretty much split the rest-some weeks I do more but other weeks he does. When we have our first child - my aunt (a retired preschool teacher) will watch him/her during the day and I'll compress my work day to 7am-3:30pm. No one should feel bad about not being able to do it all - we're not supposed to! In many other cultures extended families share the load of watching new babies, helping out when someone is sick and a weekly cook or maid isn't a privilege of the upper class, it's a job-creating necessity of the middle class. OK – I’ve stepped off of my soapbox now. ;-)
blackjade blackjade 9 years
If we could seriously consider raising kids on a continent different from my family, hubby and I would move to Europe in a heartbeat *sigh* Cravinsugar - I don't know how demanding your job is but I think you could feel fulfilled working 6 hours/day. A lot of what we think we need to be fulfilled is based how we've been conditioned. For a while I worked in a office where people rarely (if ever) took vacation - it was such the norm that I felt odd taking a much earned 1 week trip - sometimes it's all about the job culture. Also, people (women) are made to feel bad if we can't do it all, or have to ask for help. My husband does the laundry (he reads tags - I don't), and the vacuuming while I do the bathroom and we pretty much split the rest-some weeks I do more but other weeks he does. When we have our first child - my aunt (a retired preschool teacher) will watch him/her during the day and I'll compress my work day to 7am-3:30pm. No one should feel bad about not being able to do it all - we're not supposed to! In many other cultures extended families share the load of watching new babies, helping out when someone is sick and a weekly cook or maid isn't a privilege of the upper class, it's a job-creating necessity of the middle class.OK – I’ve stepped off of my soapbox now. ;-)
EllaBella EllaBella 9 years
Wow when reading your stories I feel so fortunate to live in Europe! In my country female workers get paid full salary the 10 months they have on maternity leave! And the standard working time is 37,5hours a week (7,5h a day) which leaves plenty of time to live your life as a parent or just doing what you really want to do... And also I forgot to mention we have 5 weeks paid holiday per year... :)
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Peregrine...I would be unhappy working 6 hour days...this is America, not Europe. I like working and feel fulfilled from it and just wish it were easier to balance everything else with it...at least that is how i feel.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Peregrine... I would be unhappy working 6 hour days...this is America, not Europe. I like working and feel fulfilled from it and just wish it were easier to balance everything else with it...at least that is how i feel.
peregrine peregrine 9 years
Yeah I don't think there is balance. I'm being perfectly serious when I say I think the economy should be restructured so people work maximum six hours a day and are still able to pay their bills. I don't think the rich and powerful would be too happy about that though, although I have no doubt society at large, plus the natural environment would benefit from fewer hours worked across the board.
MarshaBST MarshaBST 9 years
I work 15 hour days, have a husband and a 6 yr old. I definitely feel the same way. Sometimes it seems like I am on a tread mill just trying to get to that pot of gold and never getting there. I drive myself crazy with lists and ways to be more efficient and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Now, I just try to be present in what I am doing rather then worry about all that I have to do and am not doing. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. I just hope to find a balance that works for me.....
MarshaBST MarshaBST 9 years
I work 15 hour days, have a husband and a 6 yr old. I definitely feel the same way. Sometimes it seems like I am on a tread mill just trying to get to that pot of gold and never getting there. I drive myself crazy with lists and ways to be more efficient and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Now, I just try to be present in what I am doing rather then worry about all that I have to do and am not doing. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. I just hope to find a balance that works for me.....
MsYuppieScum MsYuppieScum 9 years
Work/life balance has proven to be this elusive holy grail in my world lately, and I am a single, child-free person. It's super frustrating to have fitness goals, for example, that I feel like I can't meet because I constantly have to give extra time to my job. It's like I am fighting this never-ending uphill battle because one week I feel like I am totally ON IT and then the next week if I squeeze in a single workout, it's a miracle. Never mind taking care of stuff around the house or having the time to cook good meals or watch an occasional movie or get enough sleep. Yep, I'm annoyed. You aren't alone on this one.
MsYuppieScum MsYuppieScum 9 years
Work/life balance has proven to be this elusive holy grail in my world lately, and I am a single, child-free person. It's super frustrating to have fitness goals, for example, that I feel like I can't meet because I constantly have to give extra time to my job. It's like I am fighting this never-ending uphill battle because one week I feel like I am totally ON IT and then the next week if I squeeze in a single workout, it's a miracle. Never mind taking care of stuff around the house or having the time to cook good meals or watch an occasional movie or get enough sleep.Yep, I'm annoyed. You aren't alone on this one.
tchan01 tchan01 9 years
Thanks for being so vulnerable fit, and everyone else who has already posted. :hug: It's tough, and like facin8me said we woman are really tough on ourselves, and we definitely deserve not to beat up ourselves so hard. Definitely easier said than done though. All the best girls :-)
facin8me facin8me 9 years
We'll never stop worrying about work/life balance until men start worrying about work/life balance. When was the last time you saw a men's magazine cover promising them the secrets of "having it all?" As women, we take on too much and then feel like failures at the end of the day because we can't get it all done. We let society dictate how our lives should be: excellent career, satisfied husband, well-rounded kids that excel in school, a clean house that is beautifully decorated, fashionable clothes, impeccable make-up, a toned body, and BFFs that we meet for coffee all the time. I wonder how many people have sat down and actually questioned what was most important to them, and then let the rest go. As long as we continue to play into the myths and stereotypes, we'll just continue to suffer.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
We'll never stop worrying about work/life balance until men start worrying about work/life balance. When was the last time you saw a men's magazine cover promising them the secrets of "having it all?" As women, we take on too much and then feel like failures at the end of the day because we can't get it all done. We let society dictate how our lives should be: excellent career, satisfied husband, well-rounded kids that excel in school, a clean house that is beautifully decorated, fashionable clothes, impeccable make-up, a toned body, and BFFs that we meet for coffee all the time. I wonder how many people have sat down and actually questioned what was most important to them, and then let the rest go. As long as we continue to play into the myths and stereotypes, we'll just continue to suffer.
laurini laurini 9 years
Hi Fit It's nice to know I'm not alone. I mean, I know we all have more to do than we can get done, but it's nice to hear some other women admitting that it's too much. I work in a lab that is blissfully an 8-4 job that I live 10 minutes down the street from, but I am on my feet for those 8 hours. I'm also trying to lose some weight (doctor's rec) so I get up every morning and do either a half hour of yoga or pilates before work. Then I leave work and go to the gym every day after work, and most Saturdays. Then I come home and make dinner for my boyfriend and myself because I grew up with a supermom who made dinner 5 nights a week and refuse to eat out on weeknights. Sometime after that I try to dedicate about 3 or 4 hours to homework for one of my two classes I'm taking, trying to get accepted to an accelerated nursing program so I can get out of a career I never wanted. So by that time it's 1030 and I've been on the go since 6am, and it's time for bed again. And every Saturday morning, without fail, I have to clean my apartment. I refuse to let my boyfriend help me because I don't feel like it's clean unless I've cleaned it. Sometimes I let him vacuum. How those of you with children do all of this, I am continually amazed.
laurini laurini 9 years
Hi FitIt's nice to know I'm not alone. I mean, I know we all have more to do than we can get done, but it's nice to hear some other women admitting that it's too much. I work in a lab that is blissfully an 8-4 job that I live 10 minutes down the street from, but I am on my feet for those 8 hours. I'm also trying to lose some weight (doctor's rec) so I get up every morning and do either a half hour of yoga or pilates before work. Then I leave work and go to the gym every day after work, and most Saturdays. Then I come home and make dinner for my boyfriend and myself because I grew up with a supermom who made dinner 5 nights a week and refuse to eat out on weeknights. Sometime after that I try to dedicate about 3 or 4 hours to homework for one of my two classes I'm taking, trying to get accepted to an accelerated nursing program so I can get out of a career I never wanted. So by that time it's 1030 and I've been on the go since 6am, and it's time for bed again. And every Saturday morning, without fail, I have to clean my apartment. I refuse to let my boyfriend help me because I don't feel like it's clean unless I've cleaned it. Sometimes I let him vacuum.How those of you with children do all of this, I am continually amazed.
tyra tyra 9 years
i feel the same way, i was actually mad when i woke up this morning because i have so much on my list and free time is not a part of it, although i do not work i have school and school is full time, i even dream about it and lately thats all i been thinking about. i have not had any time to do what i want to do like talking to friends for 5 min on the phone, catching up with social life or even have time to paper myself and girl need time for that..... so i defenitaly feel you on this fit sugar, i am just riding the wave from now on because that makes so much sense than thinking about how to make time for everything because that is an impossible task this days
Lemerne Lemerne 9 years
Hi Fit! I sort of have this problem too, I'm a student in college, and i'm married. Although my hubby is only with me a couple of days a week, it's hard to spend time together, study, keep my flat clean, go to the gym (argh! haven't been for months), take care of myself... How on earth am i supposed to handle it when you add a real job, kids, and a big house instead of a flat? Maybe that's the real problem for women now... We have the illusion of being free, and able to "live our lives", when we really have to choose between work and personal life?
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Hey Fit, my company boasts having a great worklife balance and is on the top 100 comapnies for working mothers list. However, I don't get work life balanbce either. I can't imagine what it will be like when I have a family. I have a full-time job, but the projec tI am on right now is not a 9-5 project...somedays it is 9-7 or 9-8. Then I go the gym before I leave so I am not even eating dinner until after 9 at night. then I go to bed hopefully by 10:30 but usually after 11 and then do it all over agtain. I feel the same way. I get to do almost nothing i want to. It's frustrating. I think I will find a new job once I have a family.
scorpstar77 scorpstar77 9 years
I'm still trying to figure out how to work, be married, keep my house clean, and enjoy down time for myself, so yeah, I get it. This is especially a problem for me around my busy times at work - part of my job is organizing large conferences for our non-profit clients, so for about 2 months prior to a conference, I work really long hours, and then I'm just gone for a week and a half, working 15-16 hour days onsite at the conference and abandoning my husband, house and dog to fend for themselves. I get back home and I'm so exhausted from working for 2 months with no breaks capped off by working for 8-9 days straight from the time I get up until the time I go to bed (and getting only 5-6 hours of sleep) that I don't want to do anything then, either. In the slower times, I contend with the fact that I *hate* cleaning more than anything in the world (but my hubby's not comfy with the idea of a cleaning person coming into our house every other week because they're just some person we don't know), but I feel like a failure for NOT having a clean house (because I am just ever, ever so slightly OCD, but also lazy beyond comprehension). It's so easy to talk myself into doing something relaxing for me - reading, playing on the internet, etc. - but then I feel bad as I go to bed that night for not doing the laundry or not vaccuuming or whatever. Someday I'm either going to turn into superwoman, or I'm going to get a cleaning person, or I'm going to learn to live with mess without guilt. I hope. Otherwise, I might end up in a mental institution.
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