Jul 19, 2010

Ask Amy: The Balancing Act

By: Amy Atlas, in Ask Amy, Kids

I’m just back from an amazing weekend with my family in the country. It was a weekend filled with laughter, relaxation, and love. Our boys had non-stop fun with their cousins. I had quality time with my big brother and mom {so needed!} We swam and grilled pretty much the whole weekend. My husband and I never went near the computer. It was pure bliss. This was a big dichotomy to last week. Last week was jam packed with getting ready for a magazine shoot, client meetings, billing, proposals, and more. I appreciated the weekend that much more after a hard week of work.

After having a weekend to reflect, I thought it would be a good time to address part II of the balancing act of family vs. business. I spoke about this briefly here and I get so many emails about this subject from woman all over the world about how to balance work and family. I think it is easy to perceive that everything looks perfect when you get a small glimpse of someone’s life through a small blog post. But I’m just human like all of us and the truth is that the balance is very hard. Don’t get me wrong…My family is my world, I love my work and having a creative outlet, and I love being able to do it all. But anyone who tells you that it is effortless is lying {unless you have crazy help, which I don’t}. People who know me can tell you that when I’m working on an important project, I go into tunnel vision overload. I get so focused that it is easy to compartmentalize family and work in little boxes. When that happens, things can go awry with my family life. Oh, I try. I really do try to be good at everything. I have the best intentions, but I’ve come to realize I’m just not perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Yes, there have been times that I’ve been the last one to get one of my kid’s school projects in on time, or I’ll completely forget about a change in the schedule when the kids get out early and you’ll find me racing to pick them up so I won’t be late. My mom/school friends know this well! It’s inevitable when you’re trying to manage it all. I’m getting better at it, but have a lot more to go. So here are my tips for maintaining the balance {I’m no expert, but I work on it all the time so why not share the wealth?} Please feel free to add your tips in the comments section as well so we can all benefit from everyone’s advice!

(1) Be Guilt Free – Recognize that you are just human and don’t have to be perfect at everything. Once I realized this, I was more forgiving of any mistakes I’ve made;

(2) Understand Your Balance – Get to know the balance that works well for your family. Only you can know what is good for your family. I ignore any people who judge and just do what is right for my family. If my kids get more time out of me spending quality time with just me rather than a playdate where I spend time with the parents, you can bet I’m going to turn down the playdate. Don’t let extended family, friends, or random people that want to have a say in your life affect your decisions. Only you can know what works best.

(3) Just say No! – For projects that are not essential to your business, just say no! It’s easy for people to get you roped into “small” projects, especially early on in your business. Look at every opportunity and ask yourself “how can this help my business?” Let’s face it…those small projects are never small. Not if you have an ocd personality like me at least:-) So take the time to evaluate whether the project will yield you something for your business. If not, it is going to take away time from your family and other business opportunities. People will get it. Once you start saying no, it gets easier and easier.

(4) Organize, Organize! – Keep an organized list of both your work and family life and look at them daily! This will help you see if you have double booked a meeting, etc. This helps me out tremendously!

(5) Collide Worlds – Allow your kids to be a part of some of your work activities. My kids love coming with me to baking, fabric stores, or book stores to pick up a cookbook {like above}. I don’t force this on them too much, but they really enjoy it when I do bring them.

Those were my tips…what are yours?

PS – Speaking of kids, have you all seen the new cute kid’s party blog called Hip Hip Hooray? I’m a contributing editor there now. Check it out for some great kid party ideas. You can also check out how I looked like as a kid here.

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