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Work Balance: Non-negotiables

I was able to stay home with my children until they started kindergarten. Once I started working full time, it became very difficult to stay committed to my personal goals and lifestyle. I realized very quickly that unless I set boundaries, my job was going to completely take over my life and, therefore, affect the lives of my family.

When I went back to work, I struggled greatly with mom-guilt. I never felt like I was doing enough, at home and at work. It took me a while to rid myself of the working-mom-guilt. Boundaries and purpose helped me embrace my new life as a professional and a mommy. I now see that my contribution to society as a working member sets an example for my children, takes financial burden off of my husband, and positively impacts my community.

Do not be a slave to your job. Too many of us are letting our jobs take over our homes, negatively impacting our marriage and our relationship with our children. It is ok to set boundaries at work that helps to put our family first.

Each job is different. Different hours. Difference responsibilities. Different preparations and experiences. Some jobs are easier than others to set boundaries. If your job is a demanding one that vies for your attention, I can completely understand and relate. My job as a teacher is one that can easily involve very long hours at work and even be brought inside my home. Some jobs end. You clock out and it is over until the next day when you clock in. As a teacher, my work never ends. I always have papers to grade, phone calls to make, lesson planning to accomplish. So, very easily I can stay at work until very late (and still not be finished), or I could bring a bag of work home with me every day (and hardly put a dent in what needs to be done). I could easily hear my children talk to me but not listen to them, because in my mind I am thinking about how to teach my students about U.S. History or Grammar. Easily, I can find my heart heavy while at home, thinking about the weight of the world on my shoulders to take care of the hurting and broken children in my classroom. It is hard to separate myself from my teacher role. But, for the sake of myself, my husband, my children, my home, AND my students, I very quickly established boundaries. If we don’t stop and determine our boundaries, then we will succumb to our work far too often. Then, our health and our families will suffer.

The first thing that I recommend you do to help you have balance with your work is:

1. Sit down and write out your non-negotiables.

What are your “rules” that will not be bent? These are non-negotiables. No matter how pressing the work is, how behind you are, or what others might think, you stick to these “rules”.

I won't share all of my non-negotiables, but some of my non-negotiables, as a teacher, are:

*I do not go into work on the weekends (with the exception of August).

*I only bring work home in emergencies and do not allow more than one emergency per 9 weeks. Do not do the work at home while the kids are awake.

*Make only one day a week a long, late day.

*Do not do any work that my assistant can do, even if it means it isn’t perfectly on my timetable.

By acknowledging these boundaries, I can be conscious of them, and therefore, committed.

We all start out the school year or start out our jobs thinking, "I am going to do better about boundaries. I am not going to stay so late." But, unless you sit down and consciously decide your boundaries, and unless those boundaries become "non-negotiables", you will fall into the same struggles and let your work take over. Good intentions don't take you very far sometimes.

So, sit down and write out the non-negotiables that work for you. If you need help, please reach out to me. I'd be happy to help you with your boundaries.

And, remember, there is much more to work balance than this. More tips to come! Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to this blog so you can see other ways to balance your work so you can live intentionally, making the most of this life.