Finding Balance as a Working Mother and why there is no Vanilla Answer

December 12, 2019

BY Mandy Monson

Ahhhhhhh, the phrase "Work Life Balance". A phrase that is like the quest for the "Unicorn Man", very rare and very subjective.

I posed this question to my Twitter Following:  working on my website and trying to generate topics that people would like to hear me blog / vlog about it.  If you have suggestions, let me know!

Within minutes, I had a reply...YES!  And the reply was:

QUESTION: I would love to know how you and others go about "finding balance" in your life given the realities of being a high achiever in business, sport and life - and being a mother, wife, business person and friend.  What does balance look like for you?

ANSWER:  Finding balance is something that I have let go of.  I think "Balance" is subjective and not the same for everyone.  I am a highly driven, highly competitive, doer.  So quite frankly my balance is probably different than what majority of society defines as balance.  I don't believe there is a magical potion or one size fits all.  A person has to deploy large amounts of self perspective and understanding to get to their own balance.  In fact when I was younger (20's and 30's), the phrase "Work Life Balance" was frustrating to me.  I was like, I am trying to be balanced, do it all, and feeling like I wasn't achieving that pinnacle of perfection.  Which by the way is a thing that all working mothers face.  

I have been a competitive person my entire life.  I am the youngest of 3 children in my family.  I remember shooting free throws in the dark and driving to the basket at 9 pm at night because it felt good.  That gave me balance.  

I played Division 1 NCAA Volleyball for a National Powerhouse, starting as an outside hitter 3 out of the 4 years.  I had the best grades during fall competitive season compared to spring season when we had more time on our hands to "relax".  

I work today in a highly competitive industry and in a high performance role.  My companies aren't waiting for me to get the loan in place, we are going to build the building and it's my job to get the loan done.  I like it that way.  I like pressure, I like being pushed, and I like achieving the desired result / performance metric.

With that said, when it comes to friends, family, and specifically children, as I have gotten older I believe that I am doing a better job of accepting myself.  I am not a warm and fuzzy motherly homemaker.  I have a nanny that helps keep me and my kids organized.  My ex-husband and I have gotten better each year with co-parenting our kids and working together to provide the best outcome for the collective parties.  I think as a person gets older they get better at finding balance, that just comes with maturity. 

When a person is young; just starting a family, just starting their career, they don't know much, period.  So my thoughts on finding balance is: do things your way.  Find what works best for you and don't worry about what others are doing.  They are not you.  Your balance will not be the same as anyone else's.  If you feel stressed, workout, see a therapist, have some ice cream...whatever works for you.  If it doesn't work, then move on and try something different.  Don't beat yourself up even more for not having found the "balance" that so many speak of.

For me my go to's to stay balanced (or really release stress) are:

  1. Working out and/or meditation 
  2. Connecting with my Friends
  3. Working on something that I have an interest in and passion for

Context and perspective of yourself, and simply life experience will help you achieve this mythical balance.  I am way more balanced today than I was 10 years ago.  10 years ago I had a 4 year old and 1 year old.  I was working full time in a new position at the bank when it was tough to get a loan done.  I had no nanny.  I rushed to drop the kids off at daycare by 8 am, and then rushed to pick them up by 6 pm.  Balance at that time was...tough and really non-existent.  But, I survived and made it.  Very tired, but did it.  

So in summary, taking care of yourself, taking care of your family, and contributing to the overall economic engine and goodwill of society, is pretty balanced and hat's off to you.  The way that every individual does it is different. In my experience, if a person really wants to be balanced they have to explore, work hard and find that balance for themselves.  There is no formula that fits all.  Do you and things will work out.