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  • Wendy Gengan

21st Century Parenting Masterclass Series - Work and Family Life Balance

Updated: Aug 30, 2019



Honestly, this topic is so often in our faces that I ask myself, is this even a thing. Most of us are living in times where being able to do the things we want vs doing the things we need to, is a luxury or comes about after being very intentional about it.


I quite like article shared by Dr Bock at last month’s Parenting Masterclass. It’s by John Coleman Co- author of Passion and Purpose. Here are a few snippets on work, life and family balance to get you thinking. To read the full article go to John Coleman - Passion and Purpose


“But what is the result of striking this balance? Articles on work-life balance almost never ask what we’re striving to balance for— what is the goal of the exercise. They assume that a certain number of hours sprinkled at work, at home, at the gym or with friends will yield a good life”


“.. I’d posit a new way in which to explore the issue by fundamentally redefining the terms. Starting with the end in mind, the goal most of us are striving for is fulfilment and human flourishing—both others' and ours.”


“Rather than thinking of “work” as “things we do at an office” or our professional pursuits, I’d term work anything we have to do. And I’d term “life” anything we want to do. Perhaps you could think of it in a matrix like this:”



“Worst of all would be to live without joy or purpose—rudderless and unhappy all at once.

Best, of course, is to live a life that combines purposeful commitment to self (things like character- building and self-improvement) and to others, enriched by the joy of friends, fulfilling hobbies and professional pursuits, and meaningful time with loved ones. This kind of life is flourishing and fulfilling”


“...seeking this kind of fulfilling balance would force us to shift focus from the process of work-life balance (“Am I spending enough time doing x, y, or z?”) and turn to the goal of life itself: personal and professional flourishing. The questions then become: What does flourish, and fulfilment look like for me? Where do I find meaning? What makes me happy—at work or at home? And what matters enough—whether children or a professional cause—that I am willing to SACRIFICE for it?”


“... Is your balance a good mix of things you must do and those you want to do? And is it oriented towards flourishing?”


After reading all this I’ve concluded that having a work life balance, isn’t something you should/can in fact balance. In my view, what it really comes down to is your priority.....e.g. if your kids are not a priority, they never will be regardless of how accurate you get the “balance, and if you value work more than acts of kindness, that is what will be elevated.

Balancing everything and allocating the appropriate time to each area of life, will be nothing but a ‘balancing act” (see what I did there 😊)


What we want is purpose, meaning and holding those things we value closely in tangent. Asking ourselves the questions John Coleman poses is a way to start the process of choosing what’s important to US. Once we prioritise based on what we know our purpose to be, life becomes decluttered and there’s a certain sense of order, but the choice remains ours.


Once you have a revelation of your priorities here are few practical tips that can set you off, on the perfect start to gaining a level of order in your life according to the things you value!


• Look After Yourself first – body, mind and soul

• As parents we must hit the CNTRL.ALT.DEL buttons of our family from time to time, helping us to recalibrate and adapt to the changing seasons and needs of each member of the family. Initiating a conversation about each other’s goals and where each one is at, will be a good start.

• Manage your children’s expectation – Teach them the realities of a busy life but show them that it’s possible to manage it all, by prioritising, having empathy, and most of all knowing their purpose and doing what they love.

• Routine is a great tool, but be flexible and allow for change. Pointless trying to be there when you are not needed or to do something when it won’t be as appreciated. Many times, this means sacrificing because lo and behold, we are needed at the most inopportune times, right?

• Have a genuine connection with your family and friends – Be present. There aren’t many people who deliberately don’t want to put their families first but sometimes we do something called taking it for granted. Can I say that life is too short we need to shift things around to show that this part of life is a priority.

• At work, monitor and address workload issues, scale down where you need to. Perhaps telecommute or enquire about a flexitime option. “No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” — commonly attributed to politician Paul Tsongas or rabbi Harold Kushner

• Say no when you need to say no – This is a big one...too often we are out there pleasing everyone else but ourselves.

• Ask for help where help is needed.

• Quit feeling guilty that you are not always home with your kids – be kinder to yourself but make the necessary changes where there is strain.

• Do more of what you love.


“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” —Sydney J. Harris


Choosing the quality of life, you want for you and your family comes with sacrifice, but the reward brings meaning and joy. As we decide on our life’s pursuits, we are fully aware that time flies, but thankfully we are the pilots!


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