There continues to be a lot of talk about how to balance work and life and all of your seemingly never-ending obligations. Experts provide tips, books are written, and movies with typical Hollywood endings are made. I think we all know there is no Hollywood ending to this -- it's called life.
I have had possibly every work, life, childcare situation I think exists:
- worked full time
- worked part time
- consulted part time
- consulted full time
- full-time day care
- part-time day care
- no outside childcare
- full-time live in nanny
- full-time live out nanny
- part-time nanny
Put those together in any permeation and combination you want, I've done it all. And guess what? I still don't have the answer! The truth is my needs change year after year and so do the needs of my family. Nothing is perfect. Nope. When I was a full-time stay-at-home mom with young kids, I went nuts. When I worked full time, I was so filled with guilt it nearly killed me. When I had a nanny, I counted the hours she spent with my kids vs. how much time I spent with them.
I had a friend tell me once she was a fantastic part-time mother. Honestly, that kind of resonated with me. And I remember Oprah once had an episode about raising kids with her saying how important it was to live in the moment and be present with your kids. Well, Oprah, it's not so easy to do with deadlines at work hanging over your head, a mortgage to pay, dinner to make and laundry to do.
Look, I get that you do have to be present and play with your kids and that on your deathbed you won't be regretting the dirty dishes. Don't get me wrong. It's just that there is always something that needs to get done. Always. And I love hanging out with my kids and playing. I really do. It's just that the mental list is like the CNN ticker scrolling across my head.
Balance? Sure. Whatever. Here's the truth: there is no balance. But that is OK. Really it is. You just have to make choices. For the next hour I'm going to play with my kids. I'm not checking email or tweeting. And I won't feel guilty about it. Or today I'm working. All day. I'll get the help I need with my kids because I have work to do. Each day or each week is a trade-off. I don't profess to balancing anything perfectly, but I do like that my kids see that both parents work and they understand that we aren't perfect.
Follow Tracie Wagman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HelpWeveGotKids