On Finding a Work/Life Balance

Fun fact No.1: Today I took off Caleb’s diaper, and he scampered off while I was looking for another one. I turned around to discover that he had pooed on the floor.
I had to call in the big guns (Jon) to take care of that fiasco.

Fun fact No. 2: Long overdue, I bought some new clothes for Caleb, mostly for the incoming fall weather, but also because he’s long outgrown most of his current clothes. He’s pretty normal sized except he has a very large head, and while it’s pretty funny watching him grunt with triumph and joy when he gets his head through the neck hole, I was getting worried one day I’d have to cut him out of something.
I vastly prefer him to wear onesies basically all the time because it’s easier for me, but clothing companies make less onesie options and more “real clothing” options the older the babies get. In my desperation, I purchased this “unisex” night gown sort of onesie. Upon receiving this, I’ve discovered it looks more like it was made for a certain gender (not Caleb’s).

Caleb in his “unisex” night gown onesie.

This is all to say that most days, it’s a little chaotic over here, and things occasionally fall through the cracks. We’re a pretty long shot from figuring out what that perfect work/life balance is. Customers ask what that strange sound is when Caleb is babbling into the mouthpiece while I’m on the phone with them, we’ve got stacks of boxes of inventory waiting to be counted and organized, and just today, Jon and I had bacon sandwiches for lunch, the cornerstone of nutrition. I’ve got a few blog posts clogging up the pipes that I’ve been meaning to churn out, but it’s been a bit of a crazy week. Right now, it’s almost midnight, Jon is snoring on the couch, the dog is snoring on the floor, and the baby is snoring in his crib.

We’ve got some projects and big tasks to put in place, but it’s all a matter of the seconds and minutes and hours. I think asking for more hours in the day is kind of like those urban planners who say putting more lanes in a highway doesn’t work because more cars come to fill up those extra lanes.

Now that we live just behind the shop, I don’t know if we have a better or worse work/life balance. On the one hand, we have the possibility of being more effective with our time – there’s no going back and forth between the shop and house, there’s no forgetting things or having to transport things around, but on the other hand, the line has gotten so blurry so as to almost be non-existent. It’s sort of like the twilight zone, where it’s 11:30 pm and it’s dark and hazy out and we’re trapped in this packing area, surrounded by boxes and ink bottles and terrible fluorescent lighting, and time has stopped. We just need some tinny elevator music.

So, taking it from someone who’s been back and forth on the seesaw, and whose baby calls the dog “dada” and me “uugghhhaaa,” here’s what I’ve learned about striving for a work/life balance:

  1. Appreciate the little victories, like Caleb spending 20 minutes lost in a box of bubble mailers, or a surprise unearthing of a can of WD40 to de-squeak the hinges on Caleb’s bedroom door, so I can sneak out silently.
  2. Even better than the magic bullet? The rice cooker. I only ever used my rice cooker to make rice before Caleb was born, but I have now steamed vegetables for the baby, made congee and soup, cooked oatmeal, and even prepared (gasp!) bubble tea. All this while bouncing a baby on my lap and answering emails. I’ve got a recipe for refried beans I’m planning on trying; even though the thought of refried beans sounds kind of gross to me, apparently it’s a very tasty dish.
  3. You have to give on a few things. Sometimes you’ll miss a phone call because you’re changing the baby’s diaper, and sometimes the baby will eat an old Cheerio off the floor.
  4. Eat dinner together. It used to be that we would aim to eat around 6:15, after Jon closed up the shop, but with customers who run late, if Jon ended up staying later, I would go ahead with feeding Caleb first, since his bed time is 7:00, but now we wait and we eat together. I guess it’s part Caleb growing older so his bedtime is more flexible, but it’s also really nice to end the day together.
  5. Working hard and hustling is important, but not as important as life. In fifty years, I don’t want to look back and say “I checked my e-mail at all hours of the day” – I want to say “I was there when Caleb pooped on the floor and I was also there when Jon cleaned it up. I wish I took pictures but I was too shocked.”
  6. You make sure you can call on someone you can laugh with. Whether’s it’s laughing with the baby because he’s got a bowl on his head and really enjoying it, or with Jon because the delivery guy came with 14 of the 15 boxes in a shipment, and the 15th box that will be coming tomorrow has all the goodies I ordered for myself.

A work/life balance is elusive and mysterious, like the Loch Ness Monster or how they make Chicken McNuggets. Maybe it’s impossible – but you try, and you hope to have some fun while you’re doing it.

“Look how large my head is!”

16 thoughts on “On Finding a Work/Life Balance

  1. somemaid

    Enjoy the little moments they disappear far too fast. I think Caleb’s onesie looks adorable, I’d have thought it was unisex too. The poo on the floor thing gets even better/ worse once the joys of potty training start. At 22 months my youngest opened up her nappy and painted her legs with poo, totally covered them and her bedding.

    1. Liz Post author

      I’m already in shock at how fast he’s growing up! I can hardly keep up…
      HAHA – my in-laws got us a training potty for Caleb, but we haven’t even thought about that yet. Jon and I are still debating who’s going to take the lead on that one 😉

      1. somemaid

        Don’t worry about the training thing too much at the moment, Caleb will let you know when he’s ready. I tried our son before he was ready and the whole process took forever! 😉

      2. Liz Post author

        Yes, that’s great advice – Caleb is certainly good at letting us know how he feels! Haha. And he’s also very interested in the bathroom and toilet, so maybe he’ll have a heads up 😉

    1. Liz Post author

      I hadn’t, but I just looked her up! I will have to read some of her books. She is famous for her good sense of humour, so I think she would laugh at your comparison – I sometimes barely get a blog post done in two or three cumulative days, I couldn’t imagine writing entire books!!

    1. Liz Post author

      Thanks so much!! Sometimes I cry/laugh at everything that goes on here, but as long as it ends with the laughing I think it’s a good day 🙂

  2. Maria

    I seriously look forward to reading your posts every time! You have a very engaging way of writing and a great sense of humour.

  3. bureaumishka

    Liz, I don’t know how you do it 🙂 I can barely get home and find time to sit&write – blog has been rejected and to be completely honest with you, I am not in a mood for it. It is so refreshing and inspiring to read yours on a regular basis…keep it up! All the best, Mishka

    1. Liz Post author

      Oh, Mishka, how well I know the feeling of not quite being up to writing! It can sometimes be a lot of work to take the pictures and to get everything set up, but I hope you’ll also continue with your blog! It’s such a wonderful way to connect and get to know each other 🙂

  4. Ted

    A while back I read an interesting book — author name and title forgotten — by a guy who was selling training and such on “work – life balance” to companies. He ran into a couple of things: one was managers who weren’t keen on having someone talking to their workers about “balance” because they might get a strange notion that they shouldn’t be working such long hours.

    But another bit of push-back that surprised him was from some workers who really didn’t want “balance” because…well, they liked the imbalance. They really liked working 70 hour weeks: they were motivated by the challenges; they loved working in the subject matter; they had career tracks they found really satisfying. They loved being lost in their projects.

    Homelife, hobbies, activities that weren’t work related……eh.

    They felt that if they worked less they’d enjoy their jobs and their lives less.

    So he realized it wasn’t actually about “work-life balance” as much as it was about “work-life fit”, perhaps spawning an idea we now hear about in career counselling and HR circles around a worker’s need to fit within corporate or workplace culture. And it opens lots of ways of looking at one’s worklife through a lens of personal values, goals, motivators, relationship/parenting demands/choices, and so on.

    Sometimes an unbalanced ‘fit” is better than work-life balance.

    1. Liz Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing this perspective! I’ll have to look more into this. I guess it also depends quite a bit on the career, and I think we’re pretty lucky that we’re able to invest ourselves into our own business like this 🙂


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