Having it all, and having it stress-free? File that one away with unicorns and fairies, mom—it’s just not reality. That doesn’t mean you should automatically give up on your career, either. Reducing the sense of conflict may depend more on accepting and making peace with the realities of two-career families (or working single-parent families) than on striving to juggle it all seamlessly. How hard is it to find that work-life balance??
1. Work and family are going to collide. There’s no amount of planning, no amount of quality day care or help, no amount of detail-management you can obtain that will completely eliminate the occasional conflict between work and home. Can you reduce the number of conflicts? Yes. But eliminate them altogether? No. Nannies get sick, and school plays get scheduled on the same day as your big company meeting in another state. Understanding this on the front end and making peace with it can help you deal with the inevitable problems without excessive guilt or stress when they arise.
2. Moms are always going to deal with work-life stress differently than dads. It seems that moms tend to feel a greater sense of obligation to home and children than dads, and this hasn’t changed a great deal even after decades of women joining the workforce. Is it fair? Not necessarily. Is it natural? Probably. God gave parents certain instincts that we bring to the job of caring for children. So don’t get frustrated with your husband if he doesn’t automatically respond to home needs in the same way you do. Instead, talk it out and help him see ways that he can share the burden and relieve your anxiety in this area.
3. Don’t forget the positives that your career brings to your family. Aside from the obvious benefit of added income, your career may enhance your kids’ lives in ways you don’t realize. Your children learn a great deal from the example of a parent who works hard to be her best for her employer and for her family. They learn about the value of hard work, the importance of a good education, and lots of things that can benefit them in life.
4. It’s a good idea to re-evaluate periodically. Just because you work outside the home now doesn’t mean you always will. Every year or so, sit down with your spouse to take a look at the family landscape in terms of your careers, how the children are doing and where you should go from here. You may discover, one day, that your needs and desires have changed and that a change in career (full-time to part-time, working from home, or staying home altogether) may be in order. Do the best you can based on where you are today, and trust God to fill in the blanks along the way.