I had the great good fortune to meet with two wonderful former colleagues for dinner last night. It was one of those rare occasions that three working women– and mothers– could indulge in a four hour dinner, and dig into not only ample amounts of glorious sushi, but also explore topics of kids, marriage, work and our respective approaches to balance it all.
One of us was clearly good at drawing boundaries with work and talked about how she carved out time every day for “me time” after the kids were off to school, to sit, read the paper and enjoy breakfast. Her secret: “to get to my work email I have to dial into the VPN, so the VPN waits until I finish my eggs.”
Another says “I wake up excited to open my laptop every morning and see what customers have responded, what’s new from engineering, etc.” but she also admits to never really shutting down from work in the first place. “I figure if I don’t always give more, do more, produce more than my male counterparts, that I am not making my mark.” Indeed, her boss calls and texts during our dinner looking for a file he’d lost since she created it that afternoon.
I am in an entirely different head space right now. Taking time off between jobs and treasuring the sweet indulgences of driving carpool and slipping in after-school treats to a carful of 14 year olds; spending warm fall days kayaking with my husband; and dodging the rain with a matinee movie; writing a blog.
So what is the right answer when you find yourself lucky enough to have a full work and family life? Do you let that cup of good fortune overfill and resolve to deal with any mess that might result? Or do you reach for the faucet and close off new opportunities?