When my 5-year old daughter brought me this picture she colored and said it was me, I felt a wave of guilt at first. Have a spent too much time at the computer? Is that how she sees me? One of the things a Virtual Assistant has to deal with is finding that ever-elusive ‘work-life Balance’. I’m often asked how I do it and the ugly truth is: I totally don’t.
I suck at work-life balance. In fact, I wonder if there even is such thing as ‘work-life balance’. Some days I’m glued to my computer and feeling guilty about how long it’s been since I’ve seen the kids and wondering if my neglectful parenting will cause them any permanent damage. At other times I’m playing ‘Peek-a-Boo’ for the 18th time while worrying that I’m not marketing my business (or hanging out with my husband, or doing 30 minutes of exercise or making a dent in ‘laundry mountain’).
The so-called ‘Experts’ will also remind you to take time for yourself…go to the spa…enjoy that bubble bath. Seriously? Who are these people? Don’t they have spilled Cheerios to clean up, or Facebook statuses to update or 3 kids who are in dire need of having their toe-nails cut? Perhaps they are the same people who schedule strict business hours (when family interruptions are not allowed) and strict family time (when any thoughts of business are illegal). The problem with strict scheduling is it makes no allowances for sick kiddies, client emergencies, snow days or computer crashes. After all, isn’t part of the allure of working from home the idea that you CAN change your schedule around to suit your needs?
So what’s a Virtual Assistant to do?
I’ll share my juicy secret: Let it go. Let the guilt go. Acknowledge the thought that there is no such thing as work-life balance. Acknowledge the fact that there is not a woman (or man) on the planet who is finding time to run a 6-figure business from home, work-out their six pack abs, keep their floors clean enough to eat off, cook healthful gourmet meals, keep their husbands (or wives) smiling, and raise well-balanced offspring who will grow up to solve all the world’s problems and thank you first when they accept their Nobel prizes. It’s not real. So let it go.
Do your best. Put out the big fires first. Prioritize. The kiddos needs come first…the client emergencies come second. Embrace the fact that you read 101 Dalmations (again) instead of your Twitter feed. Tell your spouse you love them and remind them that one day (probably when the kids go to college) you’ll have a really great date night. Wipe up the spilled Cheerios (sour milk=bad smell) but stash your sinkful of dirty dishes in the oven when your mother-in-law makes a surprise visit. Accept your flabby bits. Be tickled that your baby girl drew you a picture and said she loved you. Embrace the idea that you are her role-model and she is watching your build your successful business. Laugh at yourself. Be happy. And definitely, most importantly, let go of the guilt.