Slice of Life: The Work-Life Balance Seeking Paradox

I know when Bryson and I have had enough of summer vacation.

We start to argue and even the things that I used to find annoying but still cute at the beginning of summer are now just annoying. He can’t seem to find anything he can do by himself and I am starting to feel the pressure of a thousand things that I had wanted to do during break that hadn’t been done yet.

Apparently this holiday vacation is fitting that same mold.

I might have just looked at the boy and told him to go back to school.

He has plenty of things to do already – laundry to put away, books to read, piano and oboe to practice. It’s not like he needs to sit and read me the funnies I already read on Sunday or bug me to read another chapter of The Fairy Swarm. Nope. He is old enough to find something to do while I get other stuff done.

Of course, I realize that as soon as he gets engrossed in something, I’ll be bothering him to run some errands with me (I’m long overdue for a trip to the post office and I need to stop at the pharmacy and B wants to stop to drop something off at a friend’s house).  Then the tables will be turned and he’ll be irritated with me.

I feel awful – he isn’t always going to want to spend time with his mom. He’ll keep growing (and he’s doing that so much faster than I am ready for already…) and eventually part of that growing will be spending time with friends instead of me. I just know that I have a thousand things I ought to be doing…I have papers to grade and plans to write and yearbook stuff to finish up and thank you notes to write. I have an office that needs to be unearthed – it’s no wonder nothing gets done at home whenever I can’t find the space to work under all that stuff.

It’s a paradox. I want to be able to do all of these things on my to-do list in order to free up more time whenever we head back to school to spend with him and my husband and my mom. School will be busier than ever once we get back because musical rehearsals start. I need to be super efficient with my time so I can say yes to an extra chapter of reading before bed whenever we go back. Getting a jump on some of what needs done now could make a huge difference.

So saying no now is really saying yes later.

The tension it creates in me and between us seems to be counterproductive.

So I called him out from his room (where he holed up after I got frustrated with him) and asked him if he understood why I was short with him.

“Because I was distracting you. Break is your time to get caught up on your work so you have free time for other stuff – like reading with me or writing or doing other fun stuff.”

And then he just trotted back off to his room to continue reading his big fat library book.

No hard feelings.

What a relief.

But I’m still not convinced that this whole work-life balance thing isn’t more like reaching Laundry Zero or the ever elusive Inbox Zero. You feel like you’re on top of everything for a few hours or maybe a couple of days…and then, nope. You’ve spent too much time on one thing only at the expense of something else and you need to readjust to cover that shift.

Please click on the image to go to the Two Writing Teachers blog to see what others have written for their Slice of Life Challenge posts.

Please click on the image to go to the Two Writing Teachers blog to see what others have written for their Slice of Life Challenge posts.

16 thoughts on “Slice of Life: The Work-Life Balance Seeking Paradox

  1. I totally know what you mean, it’s hard to make time for the things we really want to do. I’ve been recently considering stepping away from something that is just stressing me out – life is too short, why should I do something if it doesn’t bring me joy?
    Hope you get to a great place before you’re back to work next week!

    • I have done that. If it’s not adding anything positive and it doesn’t look like you can get anything fulfilling from it in the future, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t step away from it. Life is far too short.

  2. You have an exceptional kid there (but you already know that). Balance is a delicate thing. It is extremely hard not to shift from one side to the other. All we can do is hope that the shifting equals out in the long run. Happy New Year to you, Jason, and Bryson. Hope it is happy, healthy, and prosperous for you all.

    On another note, Cindy, now that the Call for Presenters is up on PCTELA i hope you will consider once again doing a presentation.

  3. I understand all too well the pull of work and to-do lists. I’ve often dreamed of a schedule that had days off sprinkled throughout the year instead of a long summer. I think you’re totally right about Laundry and Email Zero.

  4. I think we all experience this same thing. But you are right when you say there will come a time when he won’t “need” (not want – that is totally different) to spend time with you. But it will all be good because that is our goal as a parent. Just enjoy it now…and don’t forget to enjoy your break.

    • It is the definitely the goal…I need to enjoy this stage while it lasts. We read a few more chapters tonight and I felt pretty good about the whole day. Balance achieved. At least for today.

  5. As hard as inbox zero is to achieve, I find it’s easier than laundry zero. Somehow, even though there are only three of us living in this house, there is always more laundry to be done. (Seriously, I think my inbox stays at zero for an hour or two more than the laundry ever does.)

    Nice to have you back slicing with us, Cindy. I know the end of 2015 has been hard on you and your family. May 2016 bring about happier times for you all.

    Hope to see you around soon.

  6. I needed to read your words today! I wrote about similar things for this week. I’m amazed at all I am DOING, and yet there’s still so much LEFT to do! You would think that we would come to some sort of detente with ourselves where we’d know that we had done our best and be at peace with what didn’t get accomplished, but I never seem to get there. It’s something about setting priorities and boundaries–but like you said near the beginning of your post– so much of my problem is that I really DO want to do all these things, but it’s just physically impossible! Good luck with the balance! I’ll be thinking of you!

  7. An interesting post! I agree with the idea that the balance to be struck is short lived. The challenge is how to enjoy the present moments. Good luck as you continue to juggle and prioritize to make time for the important things..

  8. Have you ever met a working mom who says she has found the balance (yoga teachers don’t count)? Please, don’t answer yes. Finding the balance is a struggle. Fortunately sometimes it works out well, and when we have the time that we need/want/wish, we appreciate it. May you have time for yourself and for your family! Happy 2016!

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