It is time for the concept of harmony to replace the work-life balance buzz. With every new report released, rehearsing the same climbing statistics detailing our collective unhappiness, unhealthy habits and rising stress factors, we move further away from changing the conversation on what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently eluded to as the work-life balance myth. Moreover, the ongoing dialogue about this concept rarely takes into account the composition of a household where the woman is not only a mom and professional, but also a caregiver.
Women caring for children, partners, or loved ones with chronic health issues do not need a primer about the demands on their time that contribute to feelings of frustration and exhaustion. This "invisible population" does not need pithy tips about list making or organizing as salves for the very real problems and challenges caregivers encounter. What these women need is a new framework for repurposing the inequities and disparities that litter their days. What they need is to embrace harmony and stop chasing after balance.
Harmony allows for disparate elements to form the whole. Musical harmonies arise from a chorus of distinctive voices. Each strain is unique, but when combined they create a fully realized entity. Harmony does not demand perfection; it allows for rough edges to fit next to smooth grooves, it promotes flexibility, revision, and engenders a DIY attitude that alleviates the pressure to meet the unrealistic social ideals about motherhood and homemaking. Most importantly, harmony returns us to our priorities and enables women to make choices that service and nurture the self, to regain control over their happiness and sense of well-being.
By changing our mindset to cultivate harmony instead of balance, we are not only taking steps to create healthier individuals and families, but also ingraining a foundation of long-term wellness for the generations of moms, caregivers, and professional women to follow.