Friday, 10 September 2010

How can you juggle work in the City, a family and a life?

Although it is Friday and fewer people read blogs at the end of the week, I am conscious that I have yet to submit a post this week. One of the things that I like to do is reach the goals I set myself and currently I have said I will submit at least one blog post a week quite a challenge with a three day week in the City, as well as pursuing other business interests and spending quality time with the girls on the four days I am not working.

What is the secret to juggling so many balls all at once? Here are my tips on how to do it often learnt through making lots of mistakes:
1. Be very clear about your values and how to make them come alive.
Now I have kids they are my top priority because I know I will never get this time back. It means that I make sure I leave London in time to see them before they go to bed and I am always rewarded with shouts of glee and cuddles which definitely makes it worth while.
2. Have clear boundaries between work, social and family time
I don't like spending my evenings on the laptop so I make sure all big things are completed before I go home so that I can really focus on my other roles as a mum, wife and friend. It is a challenge to get the balance right.
This week my eldest started school and as I started my new role in the last two weeks of August, we could not have a last minute holiday to mark the end of the era or anything like that. However we did have a very special day in which we went to Gulliver's Land just me and the girls. The sun was shining, we had a great picnic and some spoily treats like chips with our sarnies and later an ice cream. Everyone got to go on their favourite rides except for the Python: the youngest was too short for that. It was a great day and a fab way to mark the end of pre-school and the start of a new stage - I highly recommend it.
3. Communicate clearly what you need and want from others
Easy to say and hard to do. With my husband I have realised that I have to spell things out in black and white. A recent example was saying I need thirty minutes to think and write otherwise I get constant interruptions or there is an expectation that I will drop everything to help him with something.
4. Being grateful for what we have
We have our very first au-pair which is exciting and demanding all at the same time. Fortunately we are very lucky to have some with an even temperament who is very obliging but there are things that do not get done. She does not enjoy cooking and I asked her to do sausages, beans and potatoes for the girls. At 6pm nothing had happened because she was playing with the girls and lost track of the time, so my OH who was at home, got up and cooked the dinner. Again tonight she asked to help and I got her to do the cheese sauce, the cheat's way as perfected by Delia - bung the flour, milk and butter in a pan together and stir rapidly. She left it for a while and so we ended up with loads of lumps and much swearing under the breath from me as I tried to fix it.
The way forward: I need to remind myself of how much help she is giving and how many great qualities she has; and my plan is to write a plan of what I expect her to do this w/e along with a meal planner. In fact we are delliberately cooking more than we need so she does not have to do too much cooking on her own. Watch this space.
I hope this post is helpful and would love to hear what it has sparked off in you. I leave you with this thought that taking the time to invest in someone at the beginning and give them support will lead to them being fully effective and happy in their role much more quickly. This is true whether it's an au pair or a colleague at work.

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