Saturday, September 03, 2011

Work-Life Balance

There was an article in the Globe and Mail today about the work-life balance for working women. It was a bit of a rambling piece and didn’t make much of a focused argument, but it got me thinking about the issue. Not for the first time, I might add. Even before Miya was born I was trying to figure out how the balance might work.

I had a contract for communications work when I was pregnant, working with an organization that I was really happy to connect with. But my pregnancy had me feeling so nauseous and tired that when I was offered an extension of the contract, I turned it down.

After Miya was born I took a break from academic, writing and professional work for awhile – completely consumed by her infant demands. She was around a year old when I got a call from my university saying that if I didn’t finish my thesis within a year, I would forfeit my whole degree. The balance game began.

I also started picking up contracts again – work that would seem at the outset to be not too demanding, but would inevitably lead to a time of extra hours and stress and I struggled to fulfill my obligations within the constraints of childcare hours.

The article I mentioned above quotes a businesswoman as saying, “You can’t have two number one priorities.” That seems logical enough – but legion are parents are trying to defy that logic.

About 10 years ago, I quit a full-time job in order to write. Leading up to that decision, I thought that it would be a one-off choice – non-writing career vs. writing. Once I’d made it, I thought, my path would be set. But instead I found that it was a decision I have had to continually make. In the struggle to feed myself and pay the bills, I was constantly juggling finding ways to make enough money to stay afloat without losing my time and focus for writing.

Having a child has thrown a whole new dimension to this struggle. I’m trying to balance my desire to be an engaged, involved parent with my career and writing goals. The work-life-writing balance.

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