The Myth of the Work-Life Balance
BALANCE (noun): an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
Upright and steady? Since when did parenting become an endeavor that could be considered upright and steady? And achievable? Not in my three years of parenthood have I ever felt steady. Add in work? It sounds like mission impossible.
WORK LIFE BALANCE (phrase): used to describe the balance that an individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life.
Striving for balance in parenthood and professional life implies that I am aiming to trade off between those two things. I don’t want balance,
I want to thrive in both.
Living in Los Angeles, and really anywhere in the United States, parents are ill-equipped to tackle, let alone balance or excel at, parenthood and career. We do not have a national parental leave policy and are one of only three countries in the world that does not mandate paid time off for new parents, alongside Papua New Guinea and Lesotho. We have a child care crisis, and women are leaving the workforce to parent at a time in which two incomes are needed more than ever. With the right resources, tools, and support infrastructure, parents should be able to achieve their dreams of attentive parenting coupled with professional achievement and financial security.
Parenthood is 24/7, it cannot be balanced, ever. It does not stop. Not when working, not when sleeping (sleep, what’s sleep?), not when meeting up with friends. This is why it is especially important that parents feel satisfied with the quality and quantity of time they spend parenting. Here are a few of my ideas on how to thrive in parenthood and in work, without falling into the work-life balance trap.
In 2019, parents aren’t seeking balance, we aren’t looking for just a comfortable life, we are seeking fulfillment. Being a parent can be all consuming and at times all you feel you can do is take it day by day, but modern parents are not forgetting who we are and who we wanted to be before we became responsible for a new life. We are seeking wholeness. And to become whole, we need to both be parents and pursue our passions. Take even just a few minutes out of your day, every day, to do YOU.
Thrive in Chaos
Setting balance as the primary goal for a modern parent makes us feel we are seeking an unachievable state of existence. When you parent a young child or children, you are in a state of chaos, because you are dealing with a little developing person who exists in the extremes. “I am SO happy I have a lollipop.” “My world is ENDING because my lollipop is red”—Just ask my threenager, he’ll tell you—or some other version of the typical toddler meltdown. Just roll with it, don’t fight it. Let the state of chaos inspire you to see the world through new eyes.
Freedom From Limitations
Seeking to balance our lives is limiting. And life isn’t more boxed in just because we have babies and toddlers, it’s just different and more expansive. Society places so many limitations on parents—how to feed, clothe, school, play, and parent our babies—why should we continue to limit our own lives by seeking something that is unattainable and strives for mediocracy? We shouldn’t. So free yourself from societal pressures and expectations, throw out a world of balance and start thriving.
Our society should dismantle the catchphrase work-life balance and focus on the tools and support parents need to excel at parenting, work, and a fulfilling life. At Wiggle & Work, parents are able to dedicate time to their professional lives, while their children are playing nearby. Then when focused work is done, they can adjust their focus back on their babies and toddlers. Instead of trying to work at home and care for their child, Wiggle & Work allows them to do both, separately and therefore excel at both parenting and profession. Let’s keep pushing for exceptionalism for modern parents and professionals, and not settle for anything less.