Breakfast with the family, drop the kids at school, head off to work, not a hair out of place… it’s the stuff of dreams, but is it actually possible? Many women manage to balance their home life and work life so that they can enjoy the satisfaction of having a successful career and the knowledge that they are also catering to their family’s needs to – in terms of time, love and energy. Find out how they do it.
“There will be good weeks and ones which could have gone better,” says Baukjen de Swaan Arons, founder of luxury maternity e-tailer Isabela Oliver.
“When I’m at home with the kids, I focus on family time,’ says Baukjen de Swaan Arons. When I’m at work, that’s what I’m focused on but the kids know they can always call me. Once the kids have gone to bed I might put in a few extra hours work but not when they’re up and telling their stories of the day.”
“Although I don’t advocate being totally consumed by your job and work, I still think it’s vital to aim to do a job you really love,” says Rosemary Bailey, Co-Founder and Director of OnTrack International, which regularly trains employees in 15 of the UK’s largest companies. “If you can’t find a job you really love then invent one. I did, which is how I came to form OnTrack. I wanted to be in control of my own destiny – starting my own business was the way to do that. (It’s why female entrepreneurs outnumber males!). Follow your dream and then the work/life balance becomes less of an issue.”
You take great care to put your important meetings in your calendar, organising venues and so on, so do the same with your leisure time. “Try not to leave holidays, trips to the theatre – things you really enjoy, until the last minute,” says businesswoman Rosemary Bailey. Get them in the diary well ahead and then plan your work commitments around them. Keep those dates sacrosanct. Other people will respect them,once you do.”
For children missing big events like school concerts and football games might seem awful but in fact regular contact is more important. “I manage my work life balance by collecting the children from the school bus each day, making tea and eating with them around a table with no phones or e mails,” says Zoe Oakley, founder of luxury and boutique hotel locator company crispwhitesheets.com. “When they are in bed, I then catch up on the lost hours and have a cut-off at 9pm to spend some quality time with my partner.” This type of regular time with your family means they’ll always have the opportunity to talk to you about concerns or simply update you on what’s going on in their lives.
A lot of women work from home or nearby which can make it difficult to make that separation between family life and office life. “My staff and I work from converted stables at my home and I find it better to get dressed for work each day, take my lunch, leave the house and lock the door behind me,” says Zoe Oakley. Vivi Friedgut, managing director of Blackbullion, a business teaching financial education, uses a quick walk to make the separation. “If I am working from home on a particular day I set an alarm for 6.30pm and when it goes off, I down tools leave ‘the office’ walk around the block and then come ‘home’,” says Vivi. “It’s a silly little exercise but it’s amazingly effective.”
Rather than trying to juggle work and home on a daily basis, create a no-work time or times each week where you always switch all work-related appliances off and focus completely on family or other important people. “I implemented a strict zero work Saturday to ensure I was making time for the important people in my life,” says Vivi Friedgut.
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