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Work-life balance and the flexible workplace

03 September 2013

mums@work Managing Director, Emma Walsh’s core business is career consultancy and training. Emma identifies 5 key areas for parents and carers to look at in the journey to balance work and life.

1) Plan

We don’t do enough planning and part of that planning involves carrying out regular career and life audits.

Stop and take stock of the impact a baby has on work and lifestyle and remember assumptions and expectations about who is going to do what can be incorrect. The best thing to do is talk about it. For example: who will take time off if a child is sick? Now the baby is here, do I want more or less time off? What would I like to see happen over the next year or 2 or 5? How closely aligned am I to that future?

2) Don’t play the waiting game

If you’re contemplating going back and you don’t have a job or it's a job you think you will leave but you’re not sure when because you’re waiting for the right time… STOP. The waiting game is a tough one: it means putting up with the unknown; so are others... no one is left satisfied. Clear decisions create opportunities for every one.

3) Network audits

You will find professional and personal networks need overhauling. For example: are the networks you're spending time and energy on helpful and supportive? Do you need to reassess and reprioritise them to work more harmoniously with what is happening for you now? 

You also need to question your contribution to your networks. It’s a two-way thing.

4) Prioritise your wellbeing

Don’t put yourself last: get sleep, eat properly, exercise. Me-time is essential not a luxury. It's like masks on a plane: until you put on your own mask you can't be much help to others. If the vibe you’re taking home is negative, consider what would make it better and start making the changes needed to achieve that.

5) Rethink, redesign, restructure

No one can step back into a career or manage home life as if nothing has happened. You need to rethink and redesign work so you can do it in the days/hours you’ve chosen to do it in. What you are capable of doing at home will also need restructuring. Think what you can do and achieve – not about what you can’t do. If there’s a problem, have a solution. If you don't you’ll just have to be happy with a solution provided by someone else.