Finding a Balance in Juggling Demanding Careers

As a journalist, my job is demanding. The hours can be long and are often inflexible, but I love it. I was bit by the bug when I was 16 and haven’t turned back. Hubby’s job is no cake walk either. He works at least 60 hours a week, the past few months it’s been closer to 70. What do you do when both parents have demanding jobs?

I find myself struggling with this a bit, looking for ideas and inspiration, but have found in many couples, one parent has a demanding job and the other’s is either part-time, very flexible or not too stressful. If both parents are operating at a breakneck pace, they’re usually in a tax bracket higher than ours and can afford paying for more help around the house or have family members that can mend the gap.

We haven’t figured out a good formula on how to make this work, because we’re constantly revising our approach, but some of the mainstays have been compromise, communication and courage.

Compromise. What that means depends on the situation. Hubby often works late and in return I get spare time on the weekends to sleep in and catch up on my snooze deficit. This week he’s gone at a conference and I am a single parent all week long. Next weekend I’m staying in the city with a high school friend who’s in town. There’s yin and yang. We don’t have formal agreements of who gets what and I’m sure it’s not always 50/50, but that’s OK. We talk about it, understand and respect each other’s priorities to make it work. Both have to give a bit so that one isn’t resentful of the other. The resentment can easily pop up, but you have to talk about it to squash it out and move on.

Communicate. Not only talk to your spouse, but talk to your employer about what’s going on in your life. I know, moms, we often feel bad about pulling the “child card” (i.e. “Sorry I can’t stay late, I have to pick up my kid from daycare.”) But remember it’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation. Often your back is up against the wall and there really isn’t anything else you can do. Until someone invents a machine that can create two of you, all of us, moms and dads, have to realize that your employer is going to have to accept you saying “No.” You’re never going to be on your death bed wishing you spent just one more day in the office.

Courage. If the situation really isn’t working out for you and your family, and you find it’s tearing your home apart, have the courage to change. Whether that means a new role in the office, a new job entirely, even accepting a pay cut, give it serious thought. In this economy especially, it’s hard to walk away but honestly, Americans (me included) overspend tons, so take a hard look at those finances and take a look at what life would be like with less: less work, less cushion, less juggling, but will it mean more happiness? You decide.

8 responses to “Finding a Balance in Juggling Demanding Careers

  1. This is our lifestory.. and it is always a struggle to find that balance. I am lucky in that my supervisor allows leeway because family comes first. But that is one section in a huge “organization” where most supervisors are not so understanding. I will say this, my supervisor ‘s managerial style has gotten him the best and most hardworkimg loyal employees, almost all of whom will be around until he retires (me included)
    With #2 quick a-coming for me, me and hubs are making major cuts so I can go pt, even if for only a finite period of time. But, it is worth it for my family. ..and family comes first (and the happiness that comes with that good home life=a more productive worker ) LOL. Employers take note.

  2. I like this post. It’s an issue I think about a lot, and I am particularly grateful that my boyfriend doesn’t have the same kind of work schedule I do. I feel for you.

  3. Ditto. I actually quit my high-stress, longer-hours job at a law office for something not so demanding. It entailed a pay cut, but I guess prioritizing is part of motherhood.

  4. It is a very hard balance. I admire you for being a professional mom. I was sort of devestated with myself when I left an upwardly mobile career path for the “mommy track.” I felt like my employer was like, “Yep, there goes another ‘feminist,’ ” which I still do consider myself. I don’t, of course, know what my employer was really thinking. That’s just my conscience talking. Anyway, I’m glad there are women who continue to blaze a trail and show the value and strength of women in the workforce, and I am proud of you.

  5. Oh, I also meant to say, “That’s one lucky SOB that gets to see you in the city this weekend.” She is grateful. 🙂 Considering the current situation, I wish I had planned to just come hang at your house, but I had no way to know. Next time, next time… assuming you find you still like the pleasure of my company after so long. Aw, whatever, even if you don’t. I’ve never been too picky about the couches I slept on or the food I ate or even the company. HA

  6. OMG Bree. I feel so dense! I would have LOVED to have you over this week. Why didn’t I think of that? Sometimes I’m so busy running around I lack the perspective to see the answer staring me right in my face. That would have been fun. You should turn your life upside down so you can come here tomorrow! 😛 I’m sure there’ll be another time.

  7. Great article, thanks for sharing this. I have subscribed to your RSS feed and am looking forward to reading more from you.
    Keep up the good work and don’t stop posting please.

  8. The Success Ladder-
    What a lovely thing to say. Thanks much and I welcome any and all input.

Leave a Reply to sheswrite Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s