4 Things Working Moms Can Learn About Balance 
From The Balance Project’s Katherine Whitney
by Susie Orman Schnall

The media assault women with images and stories of working mothers who are supposed to do it all in a Pinterest perfect way. Through my recent work on the topic of work-life balance, my main goal has been to show authenticity. I have no desire to perpetuate the stereotypes that only make women feel inadequate.

My Balance Project interviews feature inspiring and accomplished working women candidly discussing their struggles with work-life balance. And my recent novel, The Balance Project , follows the journeys of two working women—a 25-year-old single assistant, Lucy Cooper, and her 45-year-old married boss, Katherine Whitney, who is a mother of two—as they confront the issue of work-life balance head-on.

It was important to me, as I was writing the novel, to depict Katherine’s struggles as a working mother in a realistic and honest way. I wanted women to be able to identify with her and relate to what she is dealing with. I am so happy that my readers report that I was able to accomplish that. Katherine’s approach to work-life balance, though uniquely hers, can be applied to many working mothers. Here’s how Katherine Whitney approaches work-life balance…

Embrace Your Situation
Be thoughtful and honest about what kind of “working mom” works for you and your family and then embrace that. Sure, other women’s lives may seem easier/more glamorous/less stressful but every woman is making sacrifices somewhere. Once you’ve owned your personal situation, schedule your life accordingly. Accept the fact that you can’t do everything you want to as it’s just unrealistic given the amount of hours in a day. But remember, you have the power to create the life you want to live regardless of your occupational circumstances. Katherine might not have as much time as she’d like for her family and hobbies, but she’s willing to make those sacrifices because she loves her job.

Use Your Village
No one can do it alone. Enlist friends, family, babysitters, your partner/spouse, etc. to help you take care of your children. Using your village gives you the freedom to pursue your work and other interests and gives your children more people to love them and for them to build trust with. Katherine is honest about using a nanny and her husband to help with the childcare. She’s realistic about what she’s able to do given the long hours required by her job.

Take Care of Yourself
Women are incredibly busy and it’s not always realistic to be able to fit all the “me” stuff in on a regular basis. But, if you are tired or unwell because you are frequently sacrificing sleep, eating well, exercising, or doing things that light you up, you will not be able to reach your full potential professionally or personally. Make appointments in your schedule for things like exercise, grocery shopping, and coffee with girlfriends. That way you’ll be less likely to blow them off because you’re “too busy.” Me-time is not selfish. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Katherine has always made it a priority to take care of herself, especially by drinking green juice! She has neglected going to the doctor, though… something she vows she will get better at doing in the future.

Readjust if Necessary
Our lives don’t always go as planned, so if you’re finding that your work-life balance isn’t working for you, then readjust. Not every career lends itself to a major overhaul, but you should be able to look closely at where you are actually spending your time and reassign some hours to activities that will serve your family’s needs better and/or make your life more vibrant and fulfilling. By the end of The Balance Project, Katherine realizes that she’s no longer willing to make some of the sacrifices she’s been making so she adjusts her career accordingly. You’ll just have to read the novel to find out how!

Susie Orman Schnall is a writer and author who lives in New York with her husband and three young boys. Her award-winning debut novel On Grace (SparkPress 2014) is about fidelity, friendship, and finding yourself at 40. Her second novel, The Balance Project: A Novel (SparkPress 2015), is about work-life balance and is inspired by her popular interview series The Balance Project. Visit Susie’s website for more information.

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