Tricks for balancing work and family life suggested by CM Porter Novelli’s Angela Casey
18th November 2013
The Germaine Greer brand of feminism did no one any favours. The days of “having it all” simply meant “doing everything and being knackered”. Fighting for equality meant more than just behaving like a man, it meant giving women choices and options that allowed them to achieve ambitions without compromise.
PR is often cited as a woman’s career, given that so many of the top achievers are women and we also represent 70 per cent of members of the PRCA. However, the real skill in juggling your career and home life is not about compromise in your job – it is about making the most of the options on offer and achieving your own personal goals. And this rings true, whatever your gender.
And the best way to do this?
Here are my top tips for achieving the family/work balance:
Give up trying to find a balance
There is no such thing as a life balance, but there are swings and roundabouts. Some days one thing wins and sometimes something else does, but that is just life. The key is to relax about it and accept that not everything will always be perfect and that each day has its own priorities.
The more you commit to your career, the greater support you will receive. While there are plenty of options which support working parents, these are not a license to take the Mickey. If you demonstrate a focus on your career and the desire to succeed, the commitment will be returned.
Employ the best possible childcare
By this I mean both in terms of professionalism and love. If you know your children are happy with their form of care and that you have not compromised in any way on how they spend their days, you will be more relaxed about the fact that what they do every day is something you cannot always control and that they are having a whale of a time, even without you.
Create lists for everything! Your day’s tasks in the office; the phone calls you have to make to clients; the phone calls you have to make to school/grandma/doctors; what to take on holiday; what to buy at the supermarket; what to ask your husband/wife/partner to do; where you want to be in one year’s time; and what lists you need to create to get there.
Don’t miss the school play
You will not get the school play back and once there are no more school plays, you will still have your job. So take time off from work to enjoy them and don’t feel guilty. Remember – one day they won’t want you there!
Work as much as is practical
The myth about part time work is that it is easier – but it isn’t. People who work part time have less money, less time and lots more stress. The idea that in your days at home you will have “quality time” with children is nonsense – you will spend it washing, shopping, cleaning, sorting, planning and generally being a stressed person because you cannot afford a support service. Think hard about where you want to be each day and what you WANT to be doing.
Just as in the office you delegate, do the same at home. If you hate washing, shopping, cleaning, then don’t do it and get someone to do it for you. Create a work plan for who will do what.
Sharing is caring
If you want to achieve all this planning and sorting, it is vital that you do it with the right partner. Find a co-parent who has the same values as you and believes in sharing. If you have the same aims, then the stress about work and home planning will be lessened. If work/life is a competition, it will just add to the stress factor.
If you keep elements of your life in compartments, you will be more efficient. So when you are at work you are Working Person; at home you are Parent and at a party you are Party Animal. The key is to keep those lines of demarcation – as you walk out of the office, forget the stress of the day and throw yourself full-on into the home compartment. By the same token, wipe that dribble of sick off the back of your jacket – it is not a badge of honour.
You had children (I hope) because you wanted them. You work in PR because you love the job and the buzz. So enjoy them both and accept that together they make you a better parent and a better PR person. That almost sounds like a balance.
Angela Casey, Managing Director, CM Porter Novelli, Edinburgh