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Let’s talk the home/work ‘balance’ or as I like to call it ‘integration’

For many years women have been duped into this trap of ‘balance’.

Picture this: as a clown at a circus juggles balls with the aim to keep all of them in balance, some remain in the air whilst there are two in the hands.

I’d like you to take this image, crush it (or rather leave it for the circus) and reimagine things.

The problem with this idea of balance is that it tries to avoid the conflict between home and work. It places the burden on women who shoulder a majority of home life responsibilities, not just financially, but actively and physically.

The problem with this notion of balance is that it forces us to do trade-offs. To choose one or the other at any given time. This is not just not right, but it is not fair at all.

This is one of the reasons I started The Womenomics.

So how do we make room in the word balance for integration?

We flow. We allow for positive spill over.

We have seen how successfully women have handled the lockdown and working from home during the COVID19 pandemic. We flowed.

FLOW

I have personally never seen a river fight a tide. Perhaps because it knows better.

During the most strenuous and most intense moments of lockdown, I remember having to have Malik with me in the room during Zoom Calls whilst his brothers were home-schooling, so he wouldn’t disturb his brothers in virtual classes.

Flow needs us to do the less ideal thing for the one that allows for things to eventually be completed or achieved. My work was done and the kids were successfully home-schooled. My husband wasn’t as anxious as he’d be if Malik were in the room when he was home-schooling and Malik got to say hello to some strangers on a Zoom Call… and we all had a good laugh.

 

Let’s also consider the times we live in: job losses, salary cuts, job descriptions are changing, company needs are changing… the list is endless.

What is important in staying in FLOW is deciding what your priorities are.

What is important to you right now?

As you worked through your time allocation and schedule in week 1, did the way you spent your time reflect your priorities?

What do you need to focus on and what do you need to eliminate?

FLEXIBILITY

A plan and schedule is there to channel you and help you maintain focus. Don’t get stuck on it. Learn to be light on your feet?

Can you move quickly and with agility when circumstances (read: sh*t) hit the fan?

There has never been a better time to respond to the changes happening around us positively and quickly like now. The thing is, we’ve always been told the only constant is change – and boy has it been constant for the past 8 months. I remember one single month I didn’t need to switch up, pivot or rethink something this year. No two days have been the same. And perhaps you feel the same way. Perhaps you work in an industry that is constantly switching up. Perhaps your feet are barely touching the ground and you feel overwhelmed.

But here are a few ways you can rethink your flexibility in this season:

What are your values?

What are the core things in you that will never change? For me some of these are: family first, living well (or some would say these days, soft), financial security, collaboration (I’m never a one man show), creativity, honesty and friendship. I measure these against whoever I work with or work for. What are yours?

Take time to develop your skills

In these tough economic times, only the most qualified and most relevant in terms of skills are going to get seen and heard (listen to this podcast: Careers During And After The COVID19 Pandemic)

Build your network

There’s never been a time such as this to throw away the shyness in you. Reach out and grow your network in the direction you want to go.

One of my mentors has grown her mentee base significantly this lockdown and took on mentees that know exactly what they want. You need to define your direction and your values prior and plan ahead. You sure can’t predict the future, but you have to map out your path. Draw a picture of where you are now – literally draw it! And then draw a picture of where you want to be.

Do you feel dull and bored with a nagging boss in pic 1 and then happy, bright eyed and traveling the world with a super motivating boss or even self-employed in pic 2? Now map the path there? What will it take?

 

Check this post about https://www.artofsuperwoman.com/2017/11/15/career-roadmapping/

COLLABORATION

The “Me” vs. “We” the difference between these two works is not just flipping the “M” but flipping your pride into vulnerability.

We take for granted the skill that is collaboration. I will get into much more detail about it further this week but what I want to express in this blog post is the importance for your own sanity and for your productivity.

In learning to outsource and delegate, you maximise your skills and free up your own time. You also give those that are in your life and on your team the recognition for the contributions they give, this encourages them to do more and to grow.

The biggest contributors in my team are my husband who is also my manager and COO, our nanny and domestic. You may have noticed that my values include family. Family is of the utmost importance to me, family grounds me. My children feeling safe, secure and love is very important, so securing the home front was a non-negotiable and it didn’t come easy (See blog post: https://www.artofsuperwoman.com/2016/02/08/nanny-break-up-tips/ and podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1397020/episodes/5746678-domestic-worker-s-rights-and-our-positive-obligations-as-employers-thinking-about-that-relationship-during-lockdown)

We need to respect the role and responsibilities of our domestics and nannies… this is hard work and needs to be compensated properly. Have CLEAR understandings on the roles and responsibilities upfront and the compensation. Draft a contract and follow all guidelines according to the employment act. You get what you give, honestly.

 

On the work front, some of us may be the colleague or the boss that demands and nags and has the potential to really creep in on privacy… privacy… this is not a privacy of checking up on emails and looking over the shoulder at the work being done and micro managing per say. This is the privacy of crossing cultural boundaries, not allowing enough space to move and feel safe, the ability for employees to be able to signal and feel heard when they need space or time.

Let’s be the change we want to see. Allow the natural flow and rhythm of collaboration. If someone is employed into a company there was and is faith that they can do the work and they will produce results. Allow that to happen. Encourage it. Give the space. Give the privacy to do so. Give people breathing room. They’ll decide whether you are giving them rope to hand themselves or space to breath and thrive.

But never ever hold back on encouraging, acknowledging and saying THANK YOU! Thank you is the magical word that opens up the heart (and may even free up more time if you say it often enough).

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