Finding a Right Balance between Work and Family
How women can expand their vision and commit to self-satisfaction
We hear a lot about the term work-life balance. Several organizations have started using this term for the people who are not parents but seek a balance between work and non-work related activities such as sports, study, or travel . In this article, I will refer to this term for finding a balance between work and non-work-related activities such as parenting, house chores, managing social relations for women.
Let us first understand the general meaning of the term.
Definition of Work-Life Balance
Although this term is widely used, the literature does not contain one clear definition for the term. One of the definitions that consider multiple roles goes like this: “The extent to which an individual is engaged in-and equally satisfied with- his or her work role and family role. We propose three components of work-family–balance: time balance, involvement balance, and satisfaction balance.” The other one reads “The extent to which an individual’s effectiveness and satisfaction in work and family roles are compatible with the individuals’ life role priorities at a given point in time”
As the term suggests, the underlying meaning of the definitions is to find the right balance between your work and other priorities to spend a satisfactory life.
How this term came into existence?
In past, there were clearly defined roles; Males were responsible for earning bread and fighting wars and females were responsible for managing the home and children. Thus, there was no fuss around stepping into each other’s roles.
However, as time passed, managing the house and kids was considered an inferior role to earning the bread and fighting the wars, and thus the concept of inequality bloomed. The kind of role played by women became the reason for their suffering. They did not have any fundamental rights such as education, equality, or freedom.
As society progressed, Women started receiving education and gradually became aware of their rights. They penetrated fields such as science and industries where men ruled for long. Nowadays, women are everywhere. They are managing their homes along with their work and try to excel in both. In this process, they feel overwhelmed with the amount of work they keep on doing and finally end up being frustrated about the same. Thus for managing the work and home efficiently this term came into existence.
In most parts of India, girls are raised with the mentality to consider housework as their priority even though they are thriving in their careers. As a result, as soon as they are married they start taking care of the family and consider it as their primary responsibility. When I was about to get married I was also prepared to do the same but eventually, I realized the importance of being financially independent and was grateful that my family was supportive enough to let me continue my work.
My mother taught me every skill that is required to run a house, such as cooking and cleaning. They are useful in the current phase of my life, but she missed teaching the same to my brother. She never saw any men helping in house chores so she developed an understanding that only I must learn the basic life skills. Similarly, it is a story of every house where Indian men today are less tolerant of the working women’s non-traditional lifestyles in their homes. They are still fairly conservative and expect women to manage housework and childrearing tasks alone even though they are contributing financially. This may cause anger and frustration, which can spill over to woman’s various roles in their work and family lives.
Challenges Faced by Working Women
Working women are often confronted with tasks involving children, the home, in-laws, parents, and their social circle. With the increasing demands on the job, working women have to spend long hours of work and sometimes even carry their work home. Therefore, the majority of them are burdened with excessive work in both their personal and work areas. This is a contributing factor to work-life imbalance and may lead to conflict.
Consequences of poor work-life balance
- Women feel irritable, resentful, and unsatisfied due to their inability to balance work and personal life.
- They do not find time for their hobbies.
- They compromise their health.
- If they are overtired, it reduces their ability to work productively and think clearly. This can take a toll on their professional reputation.
Practical tips that I have learned and am trying to implement
- Do not hesitate to ask for help
- Plan your meals. If you are going to cook, it is important to plan the menu and buy the required groceries in advance.
- Do not use your brain as a calendar. Use reminders. The brain should be used for developing ideas, not as a storage box. This technique will help you remember important tasks timely.
- Learn to delegate tasks in an efficient manner
- Do not wait till the last moment to get exhausted by doing something continuously. It will come out like an explosion.
- Learn to communicate your feelings as clearly as possible without creating unnecessary drama.
- Focus on solving the problem at hand rather than talking about it to the wrong people.
- Try using the Pomodoro technique while at work to increase focus on a single task.
- Plan a vacation.
- Try to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee alone as your me-time.
- Learn to prioritize and focus on only those things that are important and allocate separate time for doing the errands.
Other helpful factors
- Ask for support from parents and in-laws and try communicating the importance of working and the kind of satisfaction it brings to you.
- Seek support from your husband in contributing to housework.
- Do not try to keep everyone happy compromising your own happiness.
- Find time to pursue at least one hobby.
Patriarchy exists in society for ages. Expecting full support from a husband in everything we do will not be a justified ask. We can not expect everything to change suddenly hence we should be polite enough while seeking help. Also, My mother-in-law always says, “Running a house is like running a 24/7 factory. The work never ends.” I think it is true for every kind of work. Hence, seeking perfection in everything you do can set some unrealistic expectations.
Final Thought; If you are happy, you can keep your surroundings happy otherwise one unhappy person is enough to cause misery among the entire family.