Home Life / Family, Friends, Works, Religion, Volunteering, Hobbies, Down Time. How well do we balance / juggle all of these activities? And when do we have time to explore new interests? I used to work for a company that during their year-end personnel review process, we were required to include (in our part) the Life / Work Balance, as it was important for that company that their employees valued life outside of their work life. I have not seen that in the ensuing companies that I have worked for; yet we all talk about our families and our social activities at work and our families and business at social gatherings.
When I joined the world of consulting, I was asked by a potential employer about my thoughts on travel. Yes, I know, right off the bat traveling for work as a young man sounded glamorous. Then he pointed out being away on weekends, time alone, etc. – the things that are less glamorous. Gab was not even a year old at this point, but I was at a transition point in my career and looked towards the opportunity ahead. Travel meant the potential of missing events in my children’s development. As it ended up, while I did travel, I only had one long term assignment outside the area but was home for the weekends. I missed a few “concerts” and Halloween parades, but tried to be around when I could. There are events in our children’s lives that once they have done them, it is over and never to occur again.
Of course, on the flip side, is being able to provide for a family / household. I have heard the stories about my grandfather, who as a salesman, used to drive over his designated region to meet with existing customers and find potential new customers. This meant that he was on the road for weeks on end. Prior to that, he owned a business, where he traveled in the early morning hours from his home in Brooklyn to his store on the Lower East Side, returning home late at night after closing. My grandfather’s story is not unique. Many people worked hard long hours to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of their families. The father worked while the mother tended to house and home, sometimes with the help of a grandmother (for those of us old enough to remember the old fear the bubbie jokes). Today we live a world of the two-family income, where balance of work / life is more important.
At the end of the day, I am and have been a big believer in parents’ responsibility to teach vital lessons to their children, from morals, to family traditions, to personal values. In the workforce practice of outsourcing, there are some things, in a home, that cannot be outsourced. Time with our spouses (or significant others) and our family should be something we plan for, and that we value the times together. While we have due dates (which we do plan around) at work, what does not get finished today will be sitting at our desk tomorrow. Watching our children grow, many events happen only once and we might not get the chances tomorrow for what we can do with them today.