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Balancing Work & Family Life - Is it Possible?

I may not be my most objective on this topic as I've just returned from my first real vacation in over three years. The current state I call "Post-Vacation Re-Entry Syndrome" - going from watching sunsets on the beach to shuffling through stacks of bills and returning work phone calls. But while away, my husband and I vowed to try harder to achieve a similar disconnect from work while back to the realities of everyday life.

There are masses of information out there on the topic. When I Googled "balance in work and family life," I got over 44 million hits! With so much written about it, why is it so hard for us to implement that balance? Here are some helpful ideas to address the issue.

A very comprehensive book on the topic is Robert W. Drago's Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Life This is not the usual bullet-ted, self-help easy read. Drago is a professor of Labor Studies Robert W. Drago's Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Lifeand Women's Studies at Penn State University. Although a more scholarly treatment, with much exploration of various theories, it is very readable. Washington Post.com's Leslie Morgan Steiner has an excellent work-life blog. Every Tuesday, she invites a guest to write about their experiences trying to achieve life balance.

Another good resource is the newspaper Web site The Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal.com. A recent article by Jonathan Clements focused on achieving happiness.

Much of the literature addresses childcare topics. How do parents achieve a balance in their work and parenting lives? Personally, I become a little frustrated when most of the focus seems to fall on mothers achieving this balance or more often failing to achieve this balance, which has a very blaming feel. I wish there was more focus on how fathers are affected. An interesting exploration of the topic is this piece from Inc.com, "Working Moms and Dads Clash on Work-Life Balance".

Take some time to examine your own work-life-family relationships. If they feel out of whack, begin to take steps to achieve that balance. If your situation feels particularly overwhelming or if you are experiencing burnout or other stress-related responses, professional help may be indicated. Fortunately, many companies now offer EAPs, Employee Assistance Programs. Through these programs you can access professionals who can help, most often at no charge.



  1. I find that the biggest mistake most people make when attempting to find balance is that they think they should be in "balance" every single day. That is close to impossible and that idea led me to call balance "The 'B' Word" in my recently-published book, "The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business."

    Instead, we should strive to find a model of sustainable balance over time, looking at our lives over a week, a month, or a quarter. Some days will be all about family (sick kid or dying parent) and some days will be all about work (project due or customer deadline). The key here is to find what works for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.

    Good luck on re-entry!

    Julie Lenzer Kirk

  2. Hi Julie:

    You make an important point - there needs to be a balance to the "balance." We already get too many negative messages that we aren't managing our lives in a satisfactory way. I hate for people to stress out about the very idea of working on achieving a balanced life!



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