Work-Life balance might not exist and that’s OK

{photo by Hanna Ir├člinger Fotografie}

If you are or have been a working parent (even part-time or WAHM), you’ve probably heard the term “work-life balance” thrown around. It’s the concept that someone – most often a parent, more often a woman – can balance their home life and their professional life in a way that everything is taken care of and everyone is happy and fulfilled. Even typing out the definition sounds ludicrous to me, but there are a lot of products and industries built around this concept, and a lot of people who feel like failures when they can’t reach this unquantifiable goal.

Yesterday I read an article on Yahoo News Canada titled “Why Supermoms Should Chill” that discussed the following findings:

Trying to have it all could be bad for your mental health, according to a new study that finds that “supermoms” have higher rates of depression compared with working moms who let things slide.

Obviously, it’s difficult to know exactly what some of the terms used in this study, such as “supermom” and “letting things slide” truly meant to each participant, and what those terms mean to you or me. I’m pretty sure we’d all define them differently.

Still, the principle rings true with me. Parents are driving themselves to the point of being mentally ill because they feel like they should be doing it all perfectly. Who says I have to do everything perfectly? What is perfect? My friend Jamie wrote a great post about letting your house be messy to have a great playdate last week. I like how she pointed out that, in order to have healthier relationships you sometimes have to allow other things to be seemingly less than perfect.

I think any of us who have more than one child can attest to the fact that our idea of “clean” slips just a little with each baby. And it should, in my opinion!

Because really, we are only human. I mean, I love Pinterest and the Nate Berkus Show as much as the next gal, but I am fully aware that my home is not going to look like this until the kids are gone, or maybe never.

I am OK with that.

Both of my sister-in-laws recently turned 30, and it was a reminder to me of how thankful I am that I didn’t start my own family until my 30’s. Because in my 20’s, I still really believed in this work-life balance thing. I worked for companies who touted their work-life balance flexibility even while my job required more than 40 hours a week and no option to work from home. I read magazines that told me how to do it. I believed whoever is out there telling people that it is attainable.

I’m not sure when I realized the idea of work-life balance is a bunch of crap, but I feel much better now that I’ve accepted that. Just like the article said! Sure, there are times when I feel “on top of things”, and those times are great! But they aren’t the norm. There are always going to be maybe one too many urgent to-do’s that make me feel badly for letting the kids watch too much TV, or there are going to be those times where I know I didn’t do my best for my employer because I chose to spend that time with my family instead.

Knowing that things aren’t always going to be perfect and accepting that… now there’s something worth striving for. And apparently, accepting “less than perfect” can keep me more mentally balances, so BONUS!