Want Work Life Balance?: Learn to Enjoy Chaos

Sheri Reed

baton pass relay life workWorking Mother magazine recently polled more than 4,500 respondents on their attitudes at home and work to create What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report.

The most interesting finding? Women who consider their jobs as careers rather than just a paycheck tend to feel more balanced, fulfilled, supported, and respected.

Wow, is that what I'm feeling? Huh. I would've thought all that good-sounding stuff would feel a lot less *pant, pant* sweaty, stressful, and anxiety-inducing.

So here's a more complete breakdown on this precise finding in What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report: Women who identify themselves as having a career* are more likely than those who self-identify as working primarily for a paycheck to say that:

  • They are supported in work responsibilities and respected at home
  • Their spouses contribute more to caring for children and to at-home tasks
  • Their life is ‘in balance’; they are healthy and fulfilled
  • They are happier in all aspects the survey measured -- with their marriage, kids, friendships, salary, and choice to work

I find all this incredibly interesting, of course, because I am a working mom who identifies as having a career and who strives for all these wonderful things.

For sure, I am grateful that I feel very respected at home and my husband greatly supports me in my work responsibilities, like long hours and the occasional out-of-town business trip. My husband also contributes a lot of to caring for our boys and to at-home tasks like making meals and cleaning. But he also has a career, and I also do the same for him.

In other words, we're both always running around with our heads cut off, and the idea of either of us feeling 'in balance' sort of makes me laugh -- in a dark and cynical way. This society isn't set up for parents to ever be 'in balance,' it seems. Even in families where one parent stays home, there is the problem of one parent or the other feeling the off-balance pressures of dealing with all the unpaid work or alternatively all the paid work.

Sure, it helps greatly that I enjoy the work that I do, but does enjoying the work that I do help me feel more balanced? Not so much. Instead, I try not to resist the natural, sometimes stressful push and pull of work and life, and I've pretty much come to believe that that IS the balance -- work and then life, life and then work.

So does this make me feel fulfilled, as the survey results say it does for many other moms with careers? Wait ... did I just ask my own self a trick question? Why yes, I did, and if I have to answer that question, I would say I am as fulfilled as I am 'in balance,' which is a lot or a little, depending who you ask.

If you have a paying career or job, how do these findings feel to you?

*To be clear, according to The Working Mother Report, women feel they have a career not based on their salary only but when they:

  • Have opportunities to develop skills and advance;
  • Feel supported and respected;
  • Believe their work fulfills a higher purpose than simply making money.


Image via tableatny/Flickr


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