Sometimes Your Work + Life Fit Just Stinks

(Laura’s note: I’m on maternity leave, and while I’ll be blogging occasionally over the next few weeks, I wanted to use this opportunity to run guest posts from some of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy!) 

By Cali Williams Yost

A friend called the other night seeking advice.  Her son’s transition back to school hasn’t gone well and he’s struggling.  Her mother broke her hip and she’s managing a team of in-home care givers long distance.  And she’s been doing the job of two people since her co-worker quit.  “What should I do?” she pleaded.

First, I pointed out, “Do you remember what happened to me at the beginning of the year?” “Yes!” she laughed.   Between January and March of 2011:

  1. My intrepid nanny, who’s missed five days of work in the ten years she’s been with us, was in bed with a cold for a week;
  2. On average each week, my children have had at least one half or full day off from school due to the seemingly endless snow, and
  3. Finally, I contracted an inner ear infection that morphed into vertigo just as I was getting ready to speak at a conference in New Orleans.

In other words, during the first six weeks of the year, my work+life fit stank (I’d use a bit more colorful term but I want this post to be SFW).

I pulled out all of my tricks to deal with the unexpected body blows: I called in my back up care; I traded off coverage with my husband depending upon who had the more urgent deliverable at work; I got up earlier and went to bed later; and I cut out all non-essentials from my schedule (bye, bye blogging).

I muddled through without any major disasters, either at work or at home. Regardless, it all still stank. It wasn’t fun. It was stressful and hard. But I figured out a while ago that if I made daily perfection the bar against which I measured my work+life fit success, I’d be doomed. So, I’ve learned to roll with it the best I could whenever the turbulence strike.

Sitters get well, snow stops, and ear infections heal.  And my fit improved.  It always does, until the next time it just stinks. And if it stinks for too long, that’s my signal that a bigger change might be required. But, most of the time, it’s a matter of simply hanging in there.

Parents aren’t the only ones who have to muddle through now and then.  Anyone can have  a pipe burst unexpectedly, a dog eat a towel and need emergency surgery, the car not start, or the weather strand them in the airport during a business trip or on vacation. And those are just a few examples. Unfortunately, no one is immune from a period of work+life fit turbulence.

So my advice to my overwhelmed friend was simple: Control what you can. Be good to yourself. Beam with pride for making it through the next 24 hours with as many of the basics completed as possible. Wait for the sun to shine again. It will.  Children will settle into a routine, hips will heal, and new people will join the team.

Has your work+life fit ever “stunk?” How did you muddle through to the other side?

Cali Williams Yost blogs at Work + Life Fit and Fast Company, and is the author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You  (Riverhead/Penguin Group, 2005). Connect with her on Twitter @caliyost. 


6 thoughts on “Sometimes Your Work + Life Fit Just Stinks

  1. Definitely! I’m just coming through a rough patch, actually. It wasn’t that may work and life were out of balance- it was more like they were ganging up on me.

    But as you say, we muddled through and things are calmer now. I think it is important to judge over the long term, not a few weeks or a month.

    I also try to remember that things got hectic before I had kids, too. The kids make the juggle feel more high stakes, but I think some of that is artificial pressure I apply to myself. For instance, one of the things in the mix during my recent rough patch was my two year old’s birthday party. I stressed a little too much about that. She didn’t care if we had decorations up!

    1. @Cloud – welcome back! Sorry to hear you’re having a rough patch right now. Happy Birthday to Petunia. Sam just celebrated his second and yes, with all the fun of starting new schools and knowing a new baby was arriving any day we elected to just do a low-key family party when we were visiting relatives. He didn’t care. It was funny though that he and his 4-year-old big brother opened all the presents prematurely as their father and I were attempting to sleep in on a weekend morning. Lesson learned pre-Christmas. I know this next year will probably be pretty hectic but since I know that ahead of time I’ve lined up all sorts of help and am taking it day by day… Good luck with the running.

    2. “artificial pressure I apply to myself” Oh, my gosh! I do that to myself all the time. I will think of this post whenever I catch myself doing that, and try to *just stop it!* Thanks, Cloud!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *