WOFB: Lessons learned juggling work and family obligations

Home Column WOFB: Lessons learned juggling work and family obligations

(Part 1 of 2) Getting older is a mixed bag, but one of the blessings is that life teaches you lessons along the way. When Women of the Flooring Business asked me to talk about balancing a profession and parenthood, it was definitely not because I did it perfectly—or even gracefully. In fact, sometimes I bungled things, on both the work front and the home front.

But with age comes experience, perspective and empathy. I’ve worked full-time and part-time and been a full-time stay-at-home mother. I’ve worked 100% in the office, solely from a home office and a hybrid of both. I’ve been the employee, the employer and the freelance contractor.

Spoiler alert: It’s all hard

It’s okay that it’s hard. Often in today’s world, we’re wired to automatically jump from “This is really hard” to “Therefore, something is very wrong and needs to be fixed.” But the reality is, parenting demands a lot of us if we are engaged and committed. And it’s extremely difficult to juggle work and family life, particularly when children are young. Feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm are common. But that doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong.

Worthwhile, long-term investments, whether building a business or nurturing a family (or both, simultaneously), require much of us. Ask any elite athlete or musician. Sacrifice is always part of the equation. So, when you’re feeling like a failure, try to allow yourself a little grace. You’re doing difficult things. Life often gets easier and forward progress doesn’t have to be flawless in order to still be gaining ground.

Evaluate, adjust, adapt—and repeat

It’s amazing how sometimes small adaptations can improve things dramatically. A change to your schedule, a different day care solution, doing certain tasks from home, etc. We often jump to all-or-nothing conclusions when, in reality, the looming concern can be helped by a slight adjustment. One mistake I made when I was younger was thinking that I had to choose “A” or “B,” when really there was an entire alphabet of options that were available to explore.

Secondly, I thought once I made a decision, I had to stick with it forever. That is also a fallacy. For instance, I worked fewer hours when I had little ones at home. As my children grew (and our company grew), I was able to increase my work hours and responsibilities. Of course, a large percentage of people simply don’t have a choice—regardless of their children’s ages, they have to work full-time. But the pandemic forever changed workplace expectations and configurations, and we often don’t consider all of the creative ways we can adjust and adapt to make the best choices for ourselves and for our families.

But then, once you find your groove and things are flowing along rather smoothly, inevitably—BAM—life throws you a curveball. Perhaps there’s an emergency situation with your company or a staff member has a crisis and you are unexpectedly picking up their slack. Or maybe your child or parent becomes ill. There may be times you simply have to miss your daughter’s soccer game; just as there may be times you choose to miss an important sales meeting in order to watch her score the winning goal. You will, at times, have to revise and adapt and find new solutions along the way. What works this year may not work next year. Don’t be afraid to adjust, evaluate and adjust again as needed. And as an employer, try to allow your team members to do the same.

Chris Ogden is co-owner and communications specialist at QFloors, a user-friendly flooring software designed to streamline operations for small, mid-size and large carpet and flooring stores.

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