Tag Archives: work

Work-life balance when you don’t have a salaried job

What defines “work-life” balance? And can we speak of a “work-life” balance of a stay-at-home mother that doesn’t have a salaried job?

On one hand, somebody might say that all she has is “life”. However, on the other, I’d bet many stay-at-home mothers strongly believe that all they have is “work” with a tiny speck of “life” on it. The funny thing – there is a grain of truth in both statements. If it energizes you or relaxes you even household chores can qualify as “life”. And at the same time, if your toddler drives you crazy with yet another hysterical outburst that accounts for “work” on your balance. Thus, I guess more accurate would be to talk about a balance between “what drains your energy?” and “what replenishes your energy?”. And this is very relevant for everybody whether you do have or do not have a salaried job, and actually in general whether you are a mother or not.

We need energy to stay alive. We need nutrition for our bodies and, maybe even more importantly, we need nutrition for our minds and soul. Same as with food our taste for, so-to-say, “moral energy” differs. The only thing that is constant is that we really truly need it, otherwise sooner or later we will break down… And if this happens to a mother it is a disaster for a whole family.

Did you pay attention to the security information announced before every flight? “In case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure… <…> Passengers traveling with small children should put on their own oxygen mask first“. It might be somewhat counter-intuitive, because you as a mother, are focused first of all on the safety and well-being of your kids, your kids are the most important thing in life and that’s true. Yet, what is also true is that your kids need you and if you break down that’s going to be a tragedy for them. I wouldn’t want that my kids experience this so I make sure my energy is replenished.

Personally, I get energy:

  • when I create: a new poem, a new cake, a new embroidery…;
  • when I go to an opera or a theater, or at least listen to some good old Bach or Mozart;
  • when I play golf;
  • when I lie in a jacuzzi in a SPA-center;
  • when I have my second cup of coffee in the morning (first one is usually a ristretto or a dopio that is consumed in a moment and serves the only purpose of opening my eyes, but the second one is a latte that I enjoy without a hurry);
  • when I read a good book;
  • when I play with Lego-blocks together with my kids. Yes! That is so zen!
  • I am not a religious person, but somehow and especially when I am traveling, I like to get into a church and sit there for a little while. It also gives me sort of energy. Maybe it is because of the special aura of a church, or maybe it is because the huge Gothic construction of a lot of European churches makes you realize how a human being is simultaneously tiny compared to all this greatness and magnificent because he in fact co-created this greatness (and here I am purely talking about admiration of an architectural beauty).
  • sometimes even just having a long walk with a kid in a buggy (preferably with a sleeping (!) kid in a buggy)…

There are lots of ways how energy can be replenished, but most importantly it has to be replenished. For everybody. And especially for a stay-at-home mother who does have a lot of stuff that drains her energy out.

So don’t forget to put on your own oxygen mask when there is a loss of cabin pressure and… preferably before it gets too late.

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Do you stop developing if you decide to stay at home?

This is a comment I heard way too many times. “I cannot imagine that I would stay at home! That will be a total degradation!”; “A woman has to get a job otherwise she will become stupid and not interesting”, and many others with different words but the same basic message. Arh! To note I am not talking about situations when a woman has to work to provide for the family, I am only talking about cases when a husband actually earns enough to ensure a decent living of his family.

I hate labeling. You can have a salaried job and have no personal development whatsoever. You can have no job and have an amazing personal development. If you are lucky you can have both. Whatever your choice, don’t think it’s the only right one. If somebody chose not to go to work everyday it by no means automatically signifies that this person is not interesting or will face “degradation”. Personal development is only a matter of a personal choice. And a job as such doesn’t mean that you will stay or become interesting. Let’s face it: a lot of people go to work, have their morning coffee, gossip with colleagues, do some stuff, go to have lunch, procrastinate in social networks, do some repetitive stuff again and count down until they can go home; and that’s what they do day in and day out every single working day. The funny thing is that one of the classic representatives of the above example actually did comment on “no job means no development!” – oh, seriously?!

I did have a salaried job, I did freelance, I am thinking about my own business, when kids grow up a bit, but at this particular point in time I am a stay-at-home mother by choice. As I already said in some previous posts just that already hones a whole bunch of skills. Yet, at all times in my life, whatever I was doing to earn the living, I also had  and still do have quite some hobbies.

  • I love reading and I am usually even reading several books at the same time – just finished Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury and am almost done with Walden and Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. After I discovered Kindle my reading hours increased even more, as it makes reading in all circumstances so extremely convenient – Kindle Paperwhite has an in-built light, so you can read in the dark; you conveniently hold it in one hand and don’t need your second hand to turn pages; it has an effect of a paper, so no reflection, allowing you to read in a bright sun; not even talking about being able to have a lot of books without the need to carry around a lot of weight. And it’s not only fiction that I read, but also quite some non-fiction, mostly business books or articles on raising bilingual kids.
  • As regards cooking – it is not only a mere necessity, but also an additional hobby of mine. Frequently it is inspired by Foodpairing (c) and sometimes – by a molecular cuisine. I love experimenting, I love surprising. Cooking allows for that.
  • I did quite some online courses – e.g. Child Nutrition and Cooking by Stanford; Open Permaculture School by Regenerative Leadership Institute; Cognitive Psychology, as well as Crisis Intervention: theory and practice, as well as some others by WEU; Introduction to Psychology by MIT, just to name a few.
  • A week ago I have already planted tomato seeds inside for the subsequent replanting into my square foot garden – yet another hobby of mine.
  • I do cross-stitch embroidery .
  • When an inspiration comes I write poems which couple of years ago I assembled into a book published by Lulu. I write in Russian but for the book I provided translations into English, mostly for my husband to be able to understand them.
  • Recently I started calligraphy;
  • Also recently I finally got to sewing resulting in a nice set of clothes for my daughter and son.
  • I learned to play golf and when the weather outside allows for it, my daughter is in her “school” or willing to join and my son is peacefully asleep in his buggy, I am pitching in the garden with my Tailor Made or hitting some perforated balls with Big Bertha. Also, we do escape to the field with my husband from time to time.
  • I am intensively learning Dutch to get it to the fluency level. Next will be Spanish, where I have some basics, and Italian which I just love.

The bottom-line is – and I repeat it once again – everything is a matter of your choice and your priorities. If you want to keep on developing you will find a way, if not – you will find an excuse.

As a Postscriptum – no, I don’t have a nanny and never did. It is possible to cook together with even a very small kid and in that way develop the motor skills and the speech, if you talk at the same time of course; it is possible to do calligraphy together, when you little one is scribbling something on another piece of paper; it is possible to sew and make a toddler cut the threads; it is possible to pitch and allow the happy toddler bring the balls;… But I will talk about all this in one of the subsequent posts on how to include a kid in your life.

Solutions, no excuses!