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I’ve really enjoyed digging into this topic of life-balance so far. One thing on this topic is very clear: Balance is not easy. Whether you are balancing full or part-time work and family, or stay-at-home parenting and sanity, (or anything in-between), finding a healthy balance takes intention and effort.
Today I am excited to share the unique perspective of my friend, Amber Lia. Amber is raising three busy and adorable boys, and she and her husband have also launched their own TV and film production company. Oh yeah, she also writes at her own blog, and she is a fellow writer for the MOB (Mother of Boy) Society. I think that many of you will relate to Amber as she shares her journey to find creative solutions for finding balance in her work and family.
A big welcome to Amber…
Amber, on family-work-life balance:
My views about balanced living as a mom who also works may not be typical, but I have learned that balance has much less to do with our day planners or schedules and much more to do with being true to our calling.
I had been teaching for nearly a decade when my husband and I, 3 months into our marriage, discovered that we were expecting our first baby. My job as an Advanced Placement English Language, Composition, and Literature teacher at a high-achieving private school in California took everything I had to give, and in my heart, I knew that I could not both parent my infant well and be the teacher I wanted to be. So I went into labor a week before school let out and never went back to full-time teaching.
I made a hard choice at the peak of my career to exchange one calling for another. I went from a highly organized and detailed daily schedule with hundreds of people coming through my classroom to almost total isolation. Not great for an extrovert. My life was certainly not balanced. Today, as a writer and work-at-home business owner, I feel like I am much closer to living a balanced life. Here’s how I got there….
Balance means doing what you love to do, not just what you need to do.
My son is now 8 and has 2 little brothers. If you ask me today, I’ll tell you that I first and foremost view myself as a stay-at-home mom, even though I have only ever been a “true” SAHM for just 2 of the years I have been a mother. I love my role as a mom more than anything else, but with an increasing need for financial stability, I took on the role of a property manager-working full-time for part-time pay. Although I was good at what I did, it wasn’t fulfilling. The hours were flexible enough for me to give my kids the attention and time I craved to give them, while helping to meet the enormous cost of living in Los Angeles, but the job was grueling and thankless. I had not found the balance I was looking for, just yet.
When my husband decided that after many years working in the entertainment industry in Hollywood, he was ready to take the plunge and start his own faith and family friendly TV and Film Production Company, my heart began to race with excitement. Suddenly, we both knew that this wasn’t just his dream, it was quickly becoming mine. With my knack for creativity, background in literature, and love of story, I became the visionary creative partner with my husband in running Storehouse Media Group. Finally, I felt like I had found the kind of work that felt much more like my destiny than just a job to pay the bills. The balance I was seeking seemed a little bit closer.
Balance requires carefully evaluating what needs your attention the most.
As business owners, we work from home (sometimes in pajamas), attend movie screenings, sit on the board of leadership for entertainment groups like The Beacon, Hollywood, and take meetings with writers and network executives on a routine basis. And I’ll be honest, I often take a conference call while making a PB&J for my 4-year-old, or while helping him take care of his own business. Not always glamorous– but a mom has to do what a mom has to do. I don’t have a housekeeper or a nanny so I’m full speed ahead 24/7. There is little “me” time at this chapter of life and I’m okay with that. This is the kind of balance I have been looking for in my life–finding a way to fulfill two important callings–both to be a present mom for my precious boys by doing work that offers some flexibility with my day, and to reach the world with entertainment that both honors my faith and inspires others. Sometimes that looks like some pretty crazy multi-tasking, but that’s what this mom thrives on!
Balance involves being fully present.
My schedule does not look pared down or simple. It’s not. Every minute of my day is organized and planned and admittedly, I fit a lot in 24 hours. The key is to find what works for you, personally. I thrive on lots of action, momentum, and deadlines. To me, balance is not about cutting out activities, but making sure they are ones that add to our work-life rhythm and help us accomplish our priorities as a family and as individuals. There are plenty of meetings and industry events that I don’t attend, because my role as a mom means I’m volunteering at school in my son’s classroom, or driving on a field trip. Recently, I skipped out on a private screening with some of my favorite actors, so I could hang with my pre-schooler. It’s all good! I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Finding balance between meetings at a TV studio one day and helping with my son’s art class the next means being fully present, wherever I am. Embracing one calling does not always mean sacrificing the other but when our heads are somewhere else than in the moment, neither calling is truly being embraced.
Balance is less about schedules and more about being fulfilled.
Yes, we can find balance by evaluating our schedules, getting help when we need it, or being more selective with our commitments, but balancing life as a working mom is also about realizing that pursuing a calling doesn’t have to feel like being caught between a rock and a hard place. My priorities include being home with my kids while also exercising my creative juices and leadership skills outside the home. Even though I’m busier than I care to admit at times, none of it feels overwhelming because both my parenting and my business world make my heart sing and bring me joy. That motivates me! If you find yourself feeling off-balance as a working mom, consider whether or not the things in your life are obligations or passions and then do some strategizing to fulfill your calling in life—or both of them.
Many working moms I speak with struggle with guilt or feelings of being overwhelmed. That’s a sure sign that your life is not balanced and it doesn’t have to stay that way. Take the time to carefully evaluate the needs of your family and how your calling to be present for them can fit into your other desires or needs outside the home. It’s okay to be busy-if you are fully present and thriving. If not, then the world is your oyster. We are not as limited as we sometimes believe we are. It may mean leaving one career in exchange for another that makes more sense for your home life or it may mean giving yourself permission to do something you love and feel compelled to pursue. Either way, when you realize that prioritizing is about doing the things you were created to do, you aren’t making bad choices, just balanced ones.
Thank you Amber for sharing your wisdom….!
Now it’s your turn: Would you share from your experience finding balance between your work and your family life? Have you shifted schedules or priorities to make things work? Do you find your work life fulfilling? I’d love to keep this conversation going in comments below!
See you all soon…