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Work Life Balance for Women: What It Means & How to Find It

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Work Life Balance for Women: What It Means & How to Find It


Imagine a mother who is up early in the morning to take care of her children. Her day begins in a whirlwind — preparing breakfast, feeding the kids, packing lunches, and ensuring everyone is ready to face the day, all while bracing herself for her professional tasks. As soon as she enters her working mode, mental stress is evident. The pile of laundry, the evening meal to be cooked, and the homework waiting for her kids — all of it looms over her day, already busy and filled to the brim.

Now picture another woman — no children, but the weight of imbalance is no less real. Her work life extends beyond her typical 9-to-5 routine and leaves her breathless. Striving to advance in her career, managing a social life, maintaining fitness, and squeezing in enough sleep — all of this leaves her feeling spread thin. She views work-life harmony as an impossible goal.

This is the reality of countless women around the globe. It is especially difficult for women to juggle their work and home lives. According to studies, women in developed nations spend two times as much time on unpaid chores like child care, cleaning and cooking compared to men. In developing countries, this time gap reaches 3.4 times.[1]

In many instances, this discrepancy stems from entrenched societal beliefs and gender expectations dictating women’s roles. At times, however, this inequality is subtly woven in to our daily lives. Much of a woman’s time is devoured by the so-called ‘hidden load’[2] — tasks like planning meals, arranging kids’ playdates, or simply bearing the emotional labor, which often fly under the radar of economic indicators.

The poverty of this time is a result both of visible and hidden responsibilities. They can force women, particularly caregivers, to either leave the workforce or move towards jobs that pay less.

The question is: How can women today achieve work-life harmony?

In this article we explore this question in detail and offer possible solutions. We aim to guide women from different backgrounds and professions through the murky waters surrounding work-life harmony.

It’s not just about surviving the day; it’s about thriving in every aspect of life.

Why is work-life balance important for women?

We explore the importance of women’s work-life harmony as we delve deeper into this topic.

1. Healthy Body and Mind

First and foremost, the health of our mind and body is important. Research has shown that a skewed equilibrium between our personal and professional lives can be detrimental to our health.

One study found that Europeans who are working adults and experiencing a conflict between work and family often have poor health.[3] Another study in Poland found that a poorer work-life balance led to a worsening of mental and physical health for the middle class.[4]

Stress and burnout can also be caused by the constant grind. This could potentially lead to mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.[5] To maintain our health, it is important to keep a healthy balance.

2. Be More Present and Engaged

Here, we’re talking about engagement – in work and in life. We have only so much energy – physical and mental – to go around. When we’re constantly stretched thin, our ability to be wholly present and engaged in our roles — as an employee, parent, or partner — diminishes.

Achieving balance ensures we’re giving our best to all facets of our life, not favoring one over the other.

3. Enjoy a More Fulfilling Lifestyle

We can only find real fulfillment when we maintain a healthy balance between our personal and professional lives. Today’s woman is far more than just a worker or a caregiver — she’s both and often, even more. Women are making major strides today in their careers and raising families. They also find time to enjoy activities that make them happy.

As we aim for the sky, it is important to remember that if we do not manage our time, energy and effort wisely, then we will feel more dissatisfied.

Because let’s face it — life is too short to not live with joy. Finding the elusive work-life harmony is more important than ever in a society where women achieve more than they have before.

How to Regain Work-Life balance

Now that we’ve established why maintaining work-life balance is essential, let’s explore some strategies to regain control and restore balance in your life.

1. Say ‘No’ More Often

There’s no need to feel guilty for saying no to demands that stretch you too thin.

Women are often guilty of overcommitting due to their dual roles as caretakers and professionals. However, it’s crucial to recognize when your plate is too full, and taking on more could leave you overwhelmed and affect your performance.

It is important to communicate clearly about your limits, particularly in regards to overworking. For instance, when assigned a new project while already juggling several tasks, you might say, “I appreciate your confidence in my work, but I currently have several projects that require my full attention. I wouldn’t be able to give this the focus it deserves.”

If you need more tips on how to say no, Leo Babauta’s advice may help: The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

2. Schedule Regular Breaks

Self-care is often relegated to the back burner in our fast-paced lives. We dismiss it as an unnecessary luxury.

However, setting aside time for oneself is not merely a treat—it’s a necessity. You can decompress and recharge. It gives you a new perspective. Maybe it’s a weekly yoga class, reading for pleasure in the evening, or a peaceful morning walk before the day’s rush begins. This is a time to be present, to pay attention to your own needs and to cultivate your personal growth.

You can also boost your cognitive and overall performance by taking regular breaks. They act as temporary respites from constant work, and help to prevent burnout.

Check out these 23 self-care ideas for women to rewind and get inspired.

3. Find Flexibility in Your Work

Most traditional workplaces adhere to a strict 9-5 schedule, but life’s realities, particularly for women, require a flexible approach.

Don’t hesitate to have a candid conversation with your employer or manager about your needs. If you’re a parent, there may be times when you need to be home with your children, or you might benefit from an occasional day working from home to focus without office distractions.

Flexible working hours are also beneficial. They allow you to accommodate your personal obligations and school runs, or work at times when you’re most productive.

Employers are often willing to provide these options. They know that an employee who is happier and less stressed will be more productive.

4. Don’t Shy Away from Asking for Help

Society often pressures women into believing they should be able to ‘do it all,’ but this is neither realistic nor healthy.

Whether it’s enlisting your partner to share household chores or talking to your manager about delegating tasks when your workload is too high, it’s okay to ask for assistance. This doesn’t mean you’re failing. It means you’re human.

Moreover, household chores can be turned into life lessons that your children will remember. By teaching your children to do their own washing, you not only decrease your workload but also provide them with an important life skill. It fosters independence and a sense of responsibility.

5. Connect with other Women

As the saying goes, “no man (or woman) is an island.” We humans are innately social creatures and thrive on connection.

Women can gain a deep sense of understanding and support by joining clubs, online groups, or local groups. These platforms allow women to exchange experiences, talk about common challenges and learn from each other.

You can use them as a valuable resource for advice or simply to vent in a place where you won’t be judged.

These connections can provide comfort, motivation and inspiration. They remind us that we’re not alone in our struggles and that it’s okay to lean on each other.

Bonus Advice

Additionally, if you’re a working mom trying to balance career and family, I highly recommend reading 13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy).

Remember, work-life balance doesn’t mean distributing your time and energy perfectly between work and personal life. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The balance that works for you may differ from what works for others, and that’s perfectly okay. Finding the balance that works for you may take some trial and errors, but it’s essential to a fulfilling life.

Work and life are not adversaries; thriving in one doesn’t necessitate sacrificing the other. For a realistic work-life balance, check out this Work-Life Integration Framework shared by LifeHack’s CEO.

Final Thoughts

There’s no universal solution for work-life balance because we each carry our unique weights and joys, struggles and triumphs.

Striking a balance between work and personal life might seem like a daunting task, but with the above strategies, you’re one step closer to creating a harmonious, fulfilling life.

Remember, it’s not a sprint, but a marathon. Take it one step at the time.

TL;DR

Do you have no time to read an entire article? This is the article you need to read.

Women, especially those who have children, often face ‘time poverty’ due to disproportionate amounts of unpaid work, like housework and caregiving, as well as the ‘hidden load’ of mental and emotional labor.

Work-life balance is crucial for women’s physical and mental health. Work-life balance is crucial for women’s mental and physical health.

Work-life balance is important for women because it allows them to be more involved at work as well as at home. This leads to better performance both professionally and personally.

Women can enjoy more life by achieving work-life harmony. They will be more fulfilled in their careers, parents and personal lives.

Several strategies can help you achieve work-life harmony: 1) Learn to say ‘no’ When overwhelmed 2) Schedule regular breaks For self-care, personal growth. Work for flexibilityFlexible working hours or remote work are two examples. 4) When in need, ask for helpBoth at home and work, 5) Get to know other women Clubs and communities can be a great way to get involved.

No one solution fits all for work-life-balance. Every woman must determine what balance means to her specific contexts and needs.

To achieve work-life equilibrium, you may need to experiment and learn from your mistakes. It’s about creating a fulfilling life rather than a perfectly balanced one.

Photo credit for the featured image: Brooke Cagle, via unsplash.com

Refer to the following:

[1] J Glob Health.: Time poverty: Obstacle to women’s human rights, health and sustainable development
[2] BBC: The hidden load: How ‘thinking of everything’ holds mums back
[3] BMC Public Health Work-life balance, self-reported Health and Welfare State Regime Comparative Analysis: Working Adults of Europe.
[4] Int J Environ Res Public Health.: Work–Life Balance and Mental and Physical Health among Warsaw Specialists, Managers and Entrepreneurs
[5] Frontiers in Psychology, The Relationship between Anxiety and Burnout: A Systematic and Meta-Analysis

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