The New Work Life Balance

The New Work Life Balance
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If you asked me 5 years ago if I wanted to work from home, most or all of the time, I would have told you, “No way!” I need the social interaction of the workplace, and seeing others throughout the day. Then I changed careers, and added almost an hour to my commute each day. The flexibility was also removed, and I had no life in my work-life balance. Or, as a fellow blogger explains it, “the three part teeter totter.” For me, this is work, family and the ever elusive me time.

CB and Linus looking for the third part.

Without the one hour commute, I am considerably more productive on the days I work at home. I have everything I need to be comfortable, a warm cup of tea, a healthy lunch, and most importantly, a warm hug as the children pop into the home office for a visit. Note, that this also works for me because my husband is the full-time caregiver, and the children are very respectful of my time and space. They know that when my work is done, they ultimately get more time from me.

I realize how lucky I am to have this benefit, and work extremely hard to keep it. Sometimes, this means answering the phone when my work “day” is done. I expect this to become more defined as I progress in my job, but right now I’m available around the clock on these days.  This might seem out of balance on the work/life scale, but even hearing the childrens’ voices during the day gives me energy and motivates me to work hard, and negates any after hours calls.

“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. When I know I’ve been working long hours and taking few breaks, I enjoy being in my own neighborhood by walking to school to surprise the kids at pick-up time, taking a trip to the gym, or meeting a friend across the street for coffee. If I were in the office, I would take a trip to Costco at lunch, go to the mall, or another activity that is not as energizing as the activities available in my neighborhood. This perk also provides more balance to keep my teeter totter balanced, and I don’t spend as much money!

I’ve always been environmentally conscious, even as a kid, recycling aluminum in the neighborhood and splitting the money with my brother. When my  husband was laid off from his job 6 years ago, the first change we made was that I began riding the bus. My employer provided a pass, which made it a no-brainer way to save instant money. I continued this habit through my next job, becoming a one car family and riding the bus exclusively. When I took this new job, I knew that I would not be able to bus to the office as easily as the previous locations. However, the one car is getting older, and a newer car is necessary for reliable family adventures. So, while I have the option of driving now, I prefer not to, on so many levels. The traffic, the frustration, the risk, and pouring $40 a week into the gas tank just don’t fit in with my personality. Working at home might not be for everyone, but as technology progresses and it becomes easier to our jobs from anywhere, I encourage you to give it a try.

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