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Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Work/Life Balance is Elusive for Parents and Singles

"If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full-speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race." --Oprah Winfrey

As a working mother I understand why the challenges of working parents attaining work/life balance is a popular topic for bloggers and journalists. Since having my daughter twenty months ago I can tell you that I have yet to get ahead of my housework or even get caught up on it.   I remain a work in progress, trying to be the best mom that I can be without drowning in the sea of toys, obligations and responsibilities that I call my life.

Admittedly though, balance was challenging for me as a single person too, especially when I worked at a law firm.  The work pressures as an associate in a major firm were enormous. I was often overworked and exhausted. And when my work was not as plentiful I worried about not meeting my billable hour requirements. It was a never-ending cycle.
“The law is a jealous mistress.”  It is a phrase about practicing that harkens back to when it was a male dominated field.  It means that the practice itself is seductive, distracting, and always working to lure you away from the rest of your life. Sexist as the phrase may be, it is really accurate for firm lawyers. The needs of the client determines your schedule and your own life. If the client needs something, you provide it or risk being replaced by another lawyer.
Working really hard and being constantly available was part of the deal.  I did it but I didn't like it.  Being a part of that environment was incredibly stressful and I wanted out, not because I had a family, but because I wanted a more balanced life. I also questioned whether I would ever have the time to have a family if I kept working at that pace.

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Financial Officer at Facebook says that "you shouldn't sacrifice your career for kids you don't have yet". It's a good point.  I think it's OK to make huge sacrifices if you love what you do. However, I don't think that you should sacrifice your life for a career that you don't love. 
Apparently, I am not alone. Candace Bushnell wrote about the struggles of being a single, working woman in "Sex and the City". And in a recent Wall Street Journal article,  Single and Off the Fast Track , Sue Shellenbarger discusses singles who realized that parents don't have a monopoly on feeling overwhelmed and stepped off of the fast track into a balanced life.

Even though these singles are not choosing a more balanced life for family reasons there will likely be a family benefit. Achieving balance as a single person will likely make them more fun to be around, increasing their dating choices, resulting in them marrying at higher rates and becoming parents.

I'll welcome them to the club with open arms. Hopefully, when they get here they can give me  the work/life balance textbook. I may no longer work at a law firm, but
I could still use some tips!
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