When you do the female leader juggle — trying to juggle home and work life and everything goes awry…
Only today, I read a post from a female leader whose child was ill. Her challenges so similar to those many women leaders face when we carry the dual responsibilities of work and home, trying to please both our colleagues and family members.
Her frustration at the almost two hours it took to get through to NHS 111, more delays speaking to a doctor, finally the pharmacy to get the prescription she needed.
All the while needing to host a webinar and get myriad things done for her work… The trepidation of juggling work and family.
Balancing work and family life
This is when that delicate juggling act goes awry. Even when you have the support structures in place…
You’ve put in a dedicated day at work and then some.
Your child care is sorted.
You’ve caught up with friends and family.
Somehow meals find their way onto the table.
The laundry and the housekeeping get done.
The kids get to their sports/dance/you name it/ classes on time… mostly.
It’s exhausting, but somehow it works. Whether working from home, hybrid or in an office, you manage to keep it all together. Most of the time.
Working long hours in an ‘always on’ culture, caring for family. There’s seldom time for you.
Like many women you put others first, often not having the time or energy to care for yourself. And the exhausting balancing work begins to take its toll.
What about your own mental health?
Before long, you’re run ragged. When the pressure is high — as it invariably is for working women today — you get run down, out of sorts. Let out your frustrations — usually on those you most care about.
Through no fault of your own and despite the work you’ve put in, you begin to feel guilty. And that’s before things go awry.
When the childcare support falls through just before an important meeting…
When your child gets sick or injured and needs medical attention…
When you have a massive argument with your spouse and end up fuming on the sofa for the night…
When other family members complain that you’re always working and don’t spend time with them…
That’s when the balancing beam women walk when juggling work and home becomes unsteady. I’ve known it many times. Worried over my child’s health, feeling guilty I’m not showing up at work, missing that important meeting, or having elements of female imposter syndrome sneak in.
Knowing the ‘excuse’ of a sick child doesn’t cut it in our workaday world. Though things have changed, there is still a stigma attached to putting family before work commitments.
Spoiler alert — there shouldn’t be.
Building a robust support network
We worry about how we’ll be judged — because almost certainly we are judged, often not favourably at times like these. But that’s another post..
What women can do to ease the ups and downs of juggling work and home commitments is to build a robust support network — something we focus on in the Lead like a Woman programme — to provide the help needed in all areas of our lives, not just the career.
The support that’s needed for those times when things go awry at home. When things go awry with our finances, our relationships…. All areas of our lives.
For more about me and my leadership coaching, visit my blog here. You may also wish to join The Female Leader’s Collective on Facebook, where you can share your challenges, support and be supported by other women in the group.