A common theme that emerges when I’m coaching is the work / life balance.
A lot, and I do mean a lot, of my clients who are parents, often struggle with the commitments of work and how much time it leaves them to spend with their family. Often it’s a simple case of one-or-the-other. It can sadly lead to annoyance, resentment, frustration and despair being felt about their job, or even worse, such feelings projected towards their employer.
For a lot of us, myself included as a father of two, it’s easy to get into the fixed mindset that you can’t have your cake and eat it. That if you are at work, obviously that means that family-time must be sacrificed. There are some options however.
I’ve just read some work by Susan David Phd, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at the McLean Hospital which is fascinating. In it Susan states that you can move towards finding this work / life balance by first of all accepting the fact that you simply can’t be in two places at once. Sometimes work must dominate. Accepting this can in itself be very cathartic. It often leads to a reduction in the feeling of guilt.
Secondly, when you are with the family, one simple quick fix, which sounds all too obvious, is to make an effort to ensure that the time spent with them counts. One technique that Susan advises is to remove the distractions.
Removing the Distractions
For instance, do you leave your keys in a bowl by the door the moment you walk in the house? If so, put your phone in the same bowl. You can even turn it off. From then on, you don’t have the potential for the annoying “ping” that takes your mind back into the work space possibly when you’re reading your child a bedtime story. When you are good and ready, go fish your phone out of the bowl and switch it back on.
Susan has many other ideas.
When you’re on-the-road and stuck in a hotel room, Skyping the kids is not only good for them, but therapeutic for you too. Shut down Microsoft Word and open Skype instead. You can always go back to work afterwards.
Children in the Workplace
In fact we’ve been massively inspired here at Mindset since we came across this incredible video, showing what Patagonia has been doing for the last 32 years. Allowing their employees to bring their children to work.
Wait I hear you say!!! What a massive distraction. Surely this can’t work?
Well, according to them, 100% of mothers come back after maternity leave. 100%!
Just the financial saving alone on replacement recruitment fees and training means that a lot of that saved money can go back into the facilities to allow the children to come to work with their parents in the first place.
Well done Patagonia. What a brave move… But clearly one that has paid off.
Can we Learn from Patagonia?
I myself as a father and an employer might not have had the courage to do this yet but it has made me think about what other possibilities are open to employers when they treat their employees more and more as human-beings and not simply ‘employees’? I’ll leave you with that thought.