So I am a big believer in the power of creating integration or ‘alignment’ between the main aspects of life (self, home and work). Stay with me here. It is something I am hugely passionate about and it might sound a little ‘theoretical’ but it actually translates into very real stuff day to day. It is something I have been working on for a few years since having our first baby and it is a journey (sorry a cliche), something that is evolving and hopefully we are getting better at all the time. It is definitely something that has made me happier, healthier and improved the quality of, I think, all our lives.
Over the next few blog posts I am going to try and describe what I mean, starting with Home / Family. Notably although I am describing them separately, the very point is that the three things are intrinsically linked. The concept of ‘balance’ suggests that there must be a trade off, for example you work 5 days so time with family suffers. Integration is about thinking ‘win win’ on all fronts, re-establishing what’s important and priorities, making conscious choices, individual choices that will all be very much that.
The heading of Home / Family kind of includes all things non work or personal. So, extended family, friends, anything social or community that you are involved in, all come under this category.
I will give you an example of how we have been trying to re-work and improve the quality of our family time. Yes I know, not everything needs to be so structured and family time is just that, in whatever form it comes. But if I am honest in the past some of our ‘family time’ had become fraught.
Take your average weekend. GK and I planned to give each other a few hours each morning as ‘free time’. This kind of worked; on the days that MBK didn’t scale the stair gate to tell me that she needed a poo and I could avoid listening too intently to the sounds of, “right, what on earth has happened here?” from downstairs.
The rest of the time we then tried to ‘balance’ the jobs that needed doing with seeing friends and activities for the littles. But we would often try and fit so much in that none of it got done very well (particularly the jobs bit). We had a never ending list of things to ‘get sorted’ which weren’t even small things (e.g move house twice in 6 months). We both got frustrated that the house never seemed to be properly clean (o.k so maybe that was more OCD GK than me but I can pretend). I still felt guilty that we didn’t do enough ‘active playing’ (not really true I know) and by the end of a Saturday GK and I could easily be fed up of ourselves, our children and our weekend.
Family time came first, we were both pretty clear on that ‘priority’ and besides which that was the fun stuff, but then other things kept creeping up and becoming more tricky to manage because we’d leave it so late. I paint a pretty grim picture here, don’t get me wrong life was still brilliant, we were happy and eternally grateful for our children and circumstances. But we were getting more and more tired. I felt like lots of the ‘to do’ list seemed to be falling my way due to working part time (or because this appeared to be my unspoken ‘role’ – hmm another whole blog post there) and things were starting to ‘give’ – not necessarily the things we chose to give but by default those easiest to let go – like time with and for each other.
So we decided to make changes, we are still making changes.
We started by acknowledging the problem then looked at the root cause of the issues. This sounds like some sort of therapy and highly technical. It also suggests that GK bought in to all of this, which I’ll be honest wasn’t entirely true but luckily I was able to play the ‘this is my business venture and I need your support to test stuff’ card. Which worked. Well some of the time.
Some of the suggestions and tools we tried I will keep talking about in future posts / webinars and the resources section of the website. For example, I have been reviewing time management books and techniques, organisation tools and there are some brilliant websites and blogs out there for inspiration. Notably this is where it becomes unhelpful to talk about home / family in isolation because we needed to look at the ‘whole picture’ which included us both lacking personal time (self) as well as needing to re-focus on what we both wanted work to look like in years to come. So I will leave my ramblings here for now and come back another day to talk about ‘work’ and ‘self’.
As I said at the beginning, this is still very much a journey for us so I will also post the realities (which are often more humorous than glamorous) and would genuinely love to hear from you about your experiences and thoughts. Please reassure me that we were not alone in feeling the ‘overwhelm’…?