Are you a working parent of young children passionate about your career? Sucks, huh?
I kid, but I get questions about career balance relatively often and I have funneled my advice into three key realities I try to live by. Because this is the internet, I’m going to preface this post by saying I’m not comparing outside-of-the-home working parents to working-from-home or stay-at-home parents. I wouldn’t dare enter that corner of internet comments. Rather just the self-derived advice I’ve come to live by that I’ve articulated primarily while on panels or speaking to recently graduated alumni (or panicked pregnant people).
(1) Guilt is not a merit badge. You don’t have to wear it. Do not pretend you don’t love travel or your job to ensure people know you also love your kid(s). It is OK to simultaneously love your job and your kid(s).
(2) You don’t have to say yes to everything to feel successful – professionally or with parent groups, sport teams, and schools. Edit ruthlessly for meaning and purpose to your life.
Stop equating “exhausted” with “successful” (I’m working on this one big time).
(3) Frame all professional decisions with the understanding that no matter how indispensable you are at work, if you get hit by a bus they will ultimately replace you.
Your family and friends can’t.
Finally, most of these are true whether you have kids or not. Balance is not something achieved and then archived. It’s a widely flailing place we rarely hit consistently. The best we can do is keep our feet firmly planted on the ground, stop trying to “keep up” with those around you, and do the best quality work you can do: at your office and in your home.