Ask any working mom how she balances her professional duties with her personal and family responsibilities, and you'll likely get an answer like this:
I never answer emails before/after a certain time each day.
I make sure to schedule time with my family just like I schedule meetings.
Family meals and events are no-work zones.
But are moms really doing these things to balance work with their personal lives, or are they more like goals they've set? Is work life balance a myth for moms?
If managing a healthy work life balance were as easy as scheduling dinner with your daughter or turning off your phone to take a break from work, it seems every parent would be doing it and giddily reaping the benefits. After all, who doesn't want a clear division of work life and home life?
In reality, it just isn't that simple.
Lynn Mandinec spoke about her experience as a high-performing sales leader who became a mother at the age of 34, when her career was already well underway.
She thought she would be able to hack it. She quickly found out she was wrong.
It wasn't that sales became any harder, or that she lost her ability. Instead, she realized she loved her new daughter so much, her once smoldering passion for sales was now waning.
Meetings with clients seemed more like distractions from what really mattered -- her family -- and she knew she wasn't giving her job the focus and attention she had in the past. Her work life balance was out of whack.
And when she had twins two years later, her feelings were only intensified. Now, someone else was taking care of her children from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. each day. She felt she was missing out on raising her own children. Her work life balance wasn't healthy, and she realized she had to make a change.
She wasn't ready immediately -- over the next year and a half, she tried to quit her job 3 times before she was absolutely sure.
When she finally cut ties with the company for good, she dove headfirst into her maternal responsibilities, becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom.
But in doing so, she simply moved from one extreme to another: super employee to super mom. She still didn't have the work life balance she craved. She missed having responsibilities outside of the home and feeling useful. It was difficult to trade her fast-paced career for the much slower, albeit equally stressful, life of a stay-at-home mom.
She tried volunteering, even signing up to be the PTA president at her daughter's school, in an attempt to fill the growing void that leaving sales had left her with. But none of it really fulfilled her the way her career had.
Lynn remembers having a revelation that changed the course of her life:
"I'd been trying to find who I was (successful professional or mother), but I realized that I wasn't just one or the other. I was both."
Armed with a new understanding of her needs and wants, she decided to re-enter the workforce, this time focused on achieving the perfect work life balance for her. For Lynn, that meant working from home.
She still works from home today, and her attitude about work is refreshing. Without being confined to an office all day, she is able to be more flexible and spend more time with her kids. Her employer understands her circumstances, and because she always gives her job 100 percent, she doesn't mind her deviating from her typical schedule every now and then.
It works perfectly for Lynn, and she thinks it's a trend the rest of the workforce could benefit from following. After all, working moms face a lot of challenges, and there are a lot of us out there. It only makes sense to make your job fit your circumstances.
So is work life balance a myth for moms? Not necessarily. With the pressures of raising miniature human beings to be functional, well-equipped, happy people, working moms can take comfort in knowing that they are in control of their work and personal lives, and when the balance isn't right, there is always room for change.