Find Work-life Balance Through Partnership

    

As a working mom and wife, I struggle like so many others with finding work-life balance. And it’s not just me that struggles; my husband does as well. Clearly, the challenge of attaining work-life balance isn’t gender specific.  Anne Marie Slaughter expressed it so well in her Tufts University commencement speech, she says that the only way to balance the scales is to balance the work/home roles.

Slaughter asked graduates to imagine marriage as a partnership, where "breadwinner" and "caretaker" shift fluidly between both partners. Here is more of her advice:

For men:

  • You should be thinking about how you will combine your work lives with your family lives.

  • If you imagine yourself as a father, how will you adapt your career to accommodate caring for those you love?

  • How will you be able to be an equal partner with the person you choose to spend your life with?

For women:

  • As you think about your careers, do not automatically assume that it is primarily up to you to balance career and family.

  • Do not choose a career or a specialty within a career on the grounds that it has the flexibility to allow you to do both.

  • Choose a career on the basis of what you are passionate about doing.

For everyone:

  • Celebrate idleness. Yes, idleness! The students of creativity have long known what neuroscientists can now actually prove: Our greatest insights and discoveries have come not when we are doubling down staring at a computer screen or into a microscope, but when we sit back, rub our eyes, go for a walk, read a book or give our children a bath. Often you must slow down for your mind to speed up.

  • Do not accept a workplace that sees you as a human replacement for an automaton. Reject time-macho. Refuse to be a face-time warrior.

  • Stand up for play—for the leisure that will renew and recharge you. Stand up for love. Stand up for your right to have a life of meaningful work that earns a living and the time and resources to enjoy your life.

As I wrote in my imaginary commencement address speech, Wellness for New Grads, it’s worth creating a broader definition of success that includes learning to manage stress, finding a passion outside of work and improving wellness.

Milestone events like graduation bring reflection and great expectation, but each day is an opportunity to create and practice new habits that bring balance and joy to our lives. And if you have a partner, actively engaging in true partnership will not only bring you greater work-life balance, but a more rewarding life together.

 

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