Guest post: Shiny Rachel Pappy
When you were a little girl did you dream about work-life balance? No? Me neither.
My mom worked full-time, cooked for the entire family, did all of the shopping, cleaning, laundry, everything really, and seemed to balance it all effortlessly. In fact, everyone I knew had a mom who worked full-time and balanced everything else as well, so it never occurred to me that there would be anything difficult about it at all.
Yet, now that it is my turn – 37 years old, 3 kids, married 12 years, and working full-time as an attorney and a business owner – it’s not so effortless. As a partner for my law firm I am responsible for helping run 5 offices in 2 states for thousands of clients, and nearly 90 employees. I pour myself into my career and the work I do for others with such vigor, that as I drive home at the end of the day, I find myself mentally exhausted, but also aware that I am driving home to my second, and more important job – parenting.
Work-Life Balance for me is as simple as this: I want to get home and give my best version of myself to my kids, not a tired and irritable version of myself, coming home with a pounding headache. I want them to see a mom with energy and a zest for life! A mom who is excited to read books, do activities, go over schoolwork together, and pray with them!
I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. Instead, the one solution I want to share that has worked for me is probably one you have heard before. One decision I made two years ago, was to make it a priority to “Be Present” when I was with the kids. This decision allowed me to identify that my cell phone was distracting me from my kids. At the time, Naomi was 5 years old, Blake was 3 years old, and Jada was 1 years old. I kept my cell phone close because I would often get evening texts from the office and I felt obligated to respond. I was worried that if I didn’t respond, it would look like I wasn’t committed to the firm. I had rationalized that I didn’t watch TV and wasn’t surfing the internet, so this was a very minor disruption compared to that, and also a work obligation, so I felt it was justified. However, as I examined these interruptions as they occurred, I realized that it signaled to my kids they weren’t as important as my work. I had to stop the kids and tell them to hold on for minutes on end while I decided on the appropriate wording for any given response. Finally, I decided to make a change. Slowly, people in the office began getting used to the idea that I wouldn’t check my phone until after the kids went to sleep or close to. Then one day, I was very surprised when, out of the blue, my law partner brought up my late responses as a positive quality of mine and he stressed that I was so good about focusing on my family when I was home! I can’t tell you how surprised I was to hear that!
Being intentional about “being present” with my children has made work-life balance work for me. We all have 24 hours in the day to slice up and juggle as best as possible, and there is just never enough time in any given day for everything that needs to be done. We all want to be as productive and efficient as possible with our time, but I have found no greater reward for me and my kids than identifying time each day where I can be fully focused to intentionally spend time with each child, or all of them, without outside distractions or interruptions. I will never have today back, and I don’t want to miss it! ☺