Archives for posts with tag: balance

June has been proclaimed “Next Gen Month” in Edmonton. As I look at the various organizations under that umbrella, I often find myself asking “where are the women?” or more specifically “where are the women like me?”

From my (probably biased) perspective, those who are most involved fall into three categories:

  • single men
  • single women
  • married men with supportive wives (with or without children)

It got me thinking – where are all the women with young families? If the ultimate goal of those organizations is to make Edmonton a more vibrant, livable city for my generation and the next, where are the voices of the women working to make the city better while trying to balance challenging careers and kids.  Certainly I’m not the only one who’s TOTALLY FINE with drive-through banks as part of a denser city?

As a marketer, I understand the power of mothers – we make most of the consumer decisions in the household and therefore hold a lot of power. Many many many organizations want to hear what moms have to say. But does anyone care what those same women have to say outside of their roles as moms and household managers?

Am I splitting hairs here? Perhaps.

But I know there are women like me out there. I work with them, I work for them, and they’re in my book club and my twitter feed. A while ago, one of them whom I greatly admire told me (in her kind and supportive, yet no nonsense way) that if I wanted that voice heard, perhaps I should stop bitching and start talking (I paraphrase).

It took me a while, but I finally took her advice, and I’ve decided to run for a position on the Board of Directors of a local industry organization.

I’m hoping to find plenty of women with young families (and super supportive husbands) who are already out there, being part of the conversation. I know that since I’ve been thinking about this issue, I’ve found more and more of them and it makes me happy. I hope I’m joining a chorus.

Earlier this year, my parents and husband suggested that it was a good time to take the kids for their first visit to Disneyland. The timing seemed good – both boys were tall enough to go on most of the rides, we all needed some warm weather and sunshine and my older son’s birthday was coming up.

But I initially resisted the idea of going on only a few weeks’ notice. I wanted to push it off until the fall so I had more time to plan. I had done a case study on Disney in the past, and the thing that stuck with me was the fact that a Disney vacation was something that people planned well in advance and there was a lot of advice to be had out there about how to maximize the experience. I knew that there were guidebooks and software programs and chat rooms and iPhone apps all dedicated to planning out a Disney vacation with military precision. The thought of having to do that level of planning in such a short amount of time made me feel a bit panicked.

And then, when I Googled “lazy parents’ guide to Disneyland” and got exactly ZERO hits, I knew I was screwed.

Everyone thought I was being ridiculous, and in some way, I knew I was too, but I couldn’t figure out why I was so resistant.

Until it finally dawned on me that I was putting myself under far too much pressure to give my kids THE MOST PERFECT DISNEY EXPERIENCE. Like this was my only shot at getting it right, and if I fell short on any single part of the trip, I would ruin their childhood.

Okay, simmer down there, crazy lady.

The truth is, if I told my kids we were taking a special trip to one of the bridges in the river valley, they’d be excited. We could take a plane ride to anywhere and it would blow their minds.  This didn’t need to be our one and only Disney trip, we didn’t have to reach some mythical level of perfection, we just wanted to have a few days of fun.

So with some much appreciated help from my parents, the trip was planned and all I had to do was make sure I could get the time off work. I did end up getting a guidebook at the last minute that helped explain some of the finer details, but by the time I started reading it, I was already on the plane.

The truth is, the reason there’s no “Lazy Parents’ Guide to Disneyland” is that the whole experience is so easy. Get up, get dressed, go on rides, eat when you’re hungry, be prepared to stand in line sometimes, head back to the hotel when you’re tired. Done.

If you asked me, I could give you half a dozen tips to make the most out of a trip to Disneyland, but I realized that “getting the most out of it” wasn’t the point. It was about spending time as a family, creating memories, having a blast.

And on those points, I’d say it was perfect.

Everyone is busy.

I’m no different that millions of other working mums who are trying to balance a number of different roles and trying to be good at all of them.

What makes me incredibly lucky is the support that I have. When people ask me how I balance everything, I say, “I married well.” By that I mean that I married someone who is a true partner – a husband who actually does his share (if not more) of the house and child duties. It’s an arrangement that I’ve found to be incredibly rare (which is another post for another time).

But this post isn’t about my great husband, it’s about my parents who have been really great about helping my family in small, but incredibly helpful and meaningful ways.

A sample of their recent efforts:

  • Taking both kids to their swimming lessons on the weekend
  • Taking my elder son to skiing lessons once a week
  • Shopping for and delivering pre-made meals, ready for the freezer
  • Pre-chopping fresh veggies and cubed, raw meat for easy meal prep
  • For our upcoming family vacation, they did the research and made ALL the arrangements, including taking my kids for passport photos and standing in line at Canada Place to submit the applications

We reimburse them for their purchases, so the only thing these efforts cost them is time and a bit of gas.

None of these are earth-shattering efforts, especially for two healthy, active, semi-retired people. But what they are is insightful. My parents, without me asking, have identified what would be most helpful and they do it.

It has made a world of difference for us. No more hastily thrown together junky meals served with a glass of V8 juice and a hope that it’s close to nutritious. It means my kids can participate in activities they enjoy without my time-crunch stress. It means on Saturdays we have 90 minutes of kid-free time to organize paperwork, fold laundry, tidy up, or just sit in blissful silence.

And as a bonus, my kids are building great memories with their grandparents who bring them to fun activities and feed them Doritos afterwards.

I think a lot of modern career women with families feel this pressure to do it all and be exceptional at it all. But it’s impossible – no person can live up to that kind of pressure for a sustained period of time. You need help. And when that help comes in a pitch-perfect package, accept it with the realization that getting help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you (and yours) so much stronger.

Mum and Dad, thank you.