The topic of a life/work balance has been on my mind a lot lately, for several reasons:


  • The urge to procreate is strong, although there is no way we are getting pregnant anytime soon.  We literally do not have the time or resources to be pregnant, and this makes me worry about when I will have the time.


  • “How do you maintain a healthy life/work balance?” is a question I get asked a lot during Operation Beautiful media interviews.  I usually laugh really hard, try to catch my breath, and say that I don’t think I have much of a life/work balance.


People suggest that I drop one of my responsibilities, but the truth is that I believe all of my hats are necessary and non-negotiable.  Currently active professional hats include Healthy Tipping Point blogger, Operation Beautiful editor, Author, Motivational speaker, Secretary Administrative Assistant at the Husband’s acupuncture clinic, and Girls on the Run coach.  Currently active personal hats include Runner/yogi/exerciser, Healthy eater (this requires time and effort, trust me), Caring wife and dog mom, and Good friend/daughter.

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Sometimes I feel guilty or ‘unhealthy’ for not having this life/work balance other people speak of.  I envision a life/work balance as 50/50… balanced.  I think of a balance as not working on the weekends or not stressing out about work as I lay in bed.   When someone says, “Do you have a life/work balance?” I feel like they are asking if I spend equal time with my professional and personal hats, which just isn’t realistic at this time in my life (and perhaps, in five years, it will be impossible to give as much time to my professional life as I’d like).


I think a life/work balance is a myth.  Does ANYONE actually ever feel balanced?  (if you do, please speak up and share your methods!)


I had a Lightning Bolt Moment the other day: Maybe it’s not always possible to give equal attention to the ‘work’ part of life and the ‘fun’ part (hopefully, they overlap in some way, of course). The truth is that you have to work hard to get what you want.  Sometimes this means sacrificing certain things, like lots of free time.  But the end result is usually worth it, if you’re gunning for something you really want.  


In some ways, I wonder if all this talk about a life/work balance is just another way to make women feel guilty about having professional goals that require they to work really, really hard.  Do you ever hear men moaning about a life/work balance?  When the Husband is stressed at work, he just says, “Well, I’m doing the best I can.”  I asked him about the life/work balance thing, and he commented that women are the most highly self-critical creatures ever.  I think he’s right. 


Maybe this means a life/work balance is just a weird ‘women’s magazine construct’ and is not the real goal… maybe the real goal should be to achieve your professional and personal goals without succumbing to stress and being unhappy.  Being swamped with responsibilities doesn’t mean my sanity has to suffer.  


I think the key to achieving life/work sanity is making an effort to destress when you are really busy.  Over the last few months, I’ve made a real effort to streamline my professional/personal hats so I have more time to enjoy my life and/or sleep.  :) 


Here are some of the ‘destressing tricks’ that I’ve been doing lately.


  • Don’t Get Distracted:  Instead of doing ‘daily’ work tasks each daily, I try to do them all at once, on Sunday or Monday.  I’ve found that doing work in huge chunks vs. small bits makes the overall effort go faster and stresses me out less.  In particular, I’ve been doing this with the daily Operation Beautiful post, trying to bang out a bunch at once instead of one each morning.


  • Plan Out Meals:  Anticipating meal needs has been HUGE for me because I was starting to get ‘stuck’ without meals late at night.  Some people like to meal plan for the entire week, but it honestly just doesn’t work for me.  Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of the prep work for dinner, like boiling the brown rice or creating a pasta salad, in the morning.  The other thing we’ve been doing a lot is buying frozen healthy pizzas and relying on pizza + salad to carry us through the really rough days.  I am not a huge fan of processed foods (cooking from scratch is usually healthier and cheaper), but in this case, it’s worth it.


  • Manicures Are My Therapy:  I have to look at my hands all day long as I type on the computer, and I cannot tell you how HAPPY a manicure makes me – way beyond the actual painting process.  My trick to save money?  Opt for a simple polish change (only $12) instead of the pricey full manicure ($25).  My salon will shape and fix cuticles during a polish change, too. 


  • It’s OK To Say No:  It really is.  If I can’t add something to my to-do list, I just say, “I’m sorry, but I really do not have the time.”  It’s empowering and I know it’s what I need to do to maintain sanity.  It’s not always easy to say no, but I’m getting better at doing it without guilt.


  • Rise Early And Exercise:  I’ve been struggling to transition to early morning workouts, but so far – it’s worth it.  Working out first thing gives me a definite energy boost and calms me down.  Plus, one of my most important ‘personal hat’ tasks gets checked off the list right away.  I trained myself to wake up earlier by slowly staggering an earlier wake-up call 15 minutes a day.  It’s hard to get under the 6:30 AM mark and still get 8 hours, but I’m trying!

2011-04-06_0814 (Source)


  • Stop Requiring Perfection:  I’m getting better at being okay with not ticking items off my to-do list.  I’m also getting better at not beating myself up if I accidentally sleep in or have trouble having asleep (because guilt-tripping yourself does not make insomnia go away, trust me).   I just give myself permission not to do it all, and I end up actually doing more than I would’ve under pressure.


  • Hire a Cleaning Service:  Oh yes, we did.  I crunched the numbers in our budget and decided that, if we sacrificed a meal out and another random and unnecessary expense (manicures fall into the necessary category for me), we could afford to hire a once-monthly cleaning service ($70 a pop).  They start on Monday, and I could NOT be more thrilled with the idea.  A dirty house is a HUGE source of stress for me (huge!), and the thought of not having to spend four hours every two or three weeks on my hands and knees, scrubbing a toilet, sounds like absolutely heaven.  When my/the Husband’s schedule calms down and we have the time to do it ourselves, I’m sure we will.  But in the meantime… my sanity is worth $70.


I asked some Twitter friends how they maintain sanity while busy with work responsilities, and here are their thoughts:





Does the concept of a 50/50 life/work balance work for you?  Or does striving for that simply stress you out more?!  What tricks do you use to minimize stress and get more done?



  • DadHTP April 6, 2011, 8:29 am

    hahahaha! At least we’ll have something to talk about at dinner!

  • DadHTP April 6, 2011, 8:29 am

    hahahaha! At least we’ll have something to talk about at dinner!


  • jen @ taste life April 6, 2011, 8:33 am

    I really, really like what you wrote about the balance perhaps being some idea made up by women’s magazines. Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the things women (and I) feel ashamed about…not the right shape, the right clothes, etc. These days it’s very hard to figure out what we really want vs. what we think we’re supposed to want. I think you may be on to something about pursuing the things that we truly desire, even if it takes hard work and we don’t have the balance we’re “supposed” to have.

  • Katherine April 6, 2011, 8:36 am

    It’s funny because I think I struggle in the opposite way. I really, really dislike my current job and I am actively seeking a new one. However, the one huge perk to my job now is that I get out at 4:00 pm and I don’t have to think about it again until 8 am the next day. Sometimes I feel “guilty” for not being in a higher stress, higher demand job, which is what all of my friends and fiance have. I also stress majorly about this because I know that my carefree position, in terms of my hours worked per day, won’t last forever. I don’t want it to, I want a new job, but I know it’s going to be hard to transition to that and still exercise and get dinner on the table the way I have been.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 8:39 am

      I understand what you’re going through, too! I used to feel this way about my old urban planning job because it was a 4 day a week/40 hour a week. I had all the same feelings you do about your current job!

      Again – why do women always feel so guilty about everything?!! We are complicated creatures 🙂

    • Elisabeth April 6, 2011, 3:11 pm

      I feel sort of the same way. I work 3rd shift as a laboratory scientist at a hospital. I’m bored most of the time & hate the night shift hours, but I don’t bring home any work or stress about work (other than my dislike of the hours/job) the way many other people do. I’d love to go into something different (i.e., back to school) but worry about finding a balance in the future – most likely working some and going to grad school part or full time. The thought of trying to balance that stuff & have personal time is a bit scary (particularly since I’m possibly interested in med school…). Then there’s the feeling of guilt about being dissatisfied with my job when plenty of people don’t have jobs…

      • Elisabeth April 6, 2011, 3:12 pm

        P.S. Awesome post!

  • Kathleen April 6, 2011, 8:37 am

    Love this post! As a law student, I have basically no personal life… there is always reading to do, papers to write, outlines to prepare etc. so my weekday night and weekends are really just an extension of the school day. Now that I’m in my last year of law school, I’m finally learning how to “work smarter, not harder” and make time for the things that are important to me, like going to shows, working out, keeping up with friends etc. I can’t wait to graduate and get a public interest job so that I have a more typical “9 to 5” job than I’ve had the past three years!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 8:40 am

      Being a student is SOOO hard. Major kudos to you for doing it!

    • Kate April 6, 2011, 7:23 pm

      I am a PhD student and so I completely empathize.I have three years to go until I defend my dissertation, so I really need to work on the efficiency/work smarter not harder thing.

      Thanks for the post Caitlin!

  • Tina April 6, 2011, 8:37 am

    Great post! Lost of awesome points you make! I hired a cleaning service as well. They come every 2 weeks. I am gone for work Mon – Fri and I REFUSE to spend my weekends cleaning house when I need to spend time with family, friends and have down time for me. It is TOTALLY worth $120 a month!!!

  • Dori April 6, 2011, 8:40 am

    I am surprised that your manicure is double the price of a NYC one!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 8:41 am

      Supply and demand?

    • Larissa April 6, 2011, 9:34 am

      yeah i noticed that too! i hope this place is super upscale? here in philadelphia a good manicure is 12 and a polish change is 5- and they do cuticles and shape nails too!

      – it always amazes me about the price of things in different places its very interesting! you could probably write a fun post about this since all the traveling and super markets you have been to on those trips!

    • Larissa April 6, 2011, 9:34 am

      yeah i noticed that too! i hope this place is super upscale? here in philadelphia a good manicure is 12 and a polish change is 5- and they do cuticles and shape nails too!

      – it always amazes me about the price of things in different places its very interesting! you could probably write a fun post about this since all the traveling and super markets you have been to on those trips!

      • Nikki T April 6, 2011, 12:05 pm

        Wow, these are super cheap manicures! I’m in Alberta, Canada and a salon manicure is usually at least $50! You can go to a “less salon-like” place for maybe about $30 or so…!

        • Andrea April 6, 2011, 2:15 pm

          Ditto from another Canadian! I thought 15 bucks was super cheap!

        • KaraQ April 6, 2011, 2:21 pm

          I’m in a small town in the Piedmont of NC, and “polish changes” around here are $5! Guess I should count myself lucky 🙂

      • Stephanie C April 6, 2011, 5:53 pm

        Same here! I live in L.A. and many of the upscale salons will charge anywhere from $30-50 for a mani/pedi combo. But there are TONS of places where you can get it cheaper. And you don’t have to sacrifice cleanliness. I get a full manicure for $10 and my friend got a fill recently for $15 (she usu pays $18-20). We were both very happy, considering we have been used to going to upscale salons most of our lives.

  • Joyce @ Flowing to Fifty April 6, 2011, 8:42 am

    I have no balance! Work eats me alive and when I have some downtime, I’m a zombie even when trying to fit in some exercise. I’m looking forward to getting some ideas from the comments. Men don’t stress about it because men still have much less work at home than women do – sorry, but it’s the reality of life.

  • SarahC April 6, 2011, 8:43 am

    I LOVE THIS POST! It’s funny how we all struggle with that balance, yet seem to think that everyone else has it all together. A therapist friend told me once that he frequently has women come in stressed out about the life-work balance. He noticed that if a woman was devoting a lot of time to work, she felt like she was “failing” at being a mom/wife/friend/etc (or vice-versa). If a male client had to devote more time to one area than the other, his attitude was more “well, I’m doing mostly fine.” Isn’t that interesting! It really made me think, and I DO THAT ALL THE TIME! I would never expect someone else to live up to these insane expectations, so why do I put so much pressure on myself?!! Life is way too messy and short to be wrapped up in stress and guilt (not that I don’t sometimes!). The line: “maybe the real goal should be to achieve your professional and personal goals without succumbing to stress and being unhappy” really resonated with me. Thanks, Caitlin!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:58 pm

      Great comment, thanks Sarah! I can relate a lot to what you said.

  • Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 6, 2011, 8:48 am

    what a fantastic post!

    I love that you said you have to work hard to get the things in life you want – like time to relax -sigh what a catch 22

    I hope everything goes well with all of your commitments and that you do find time to really bask ina and appreciate all of your accomplishments–they’re impressive! 🙂

  • VeggieGirl April 6, 2011, 8:54 am

    The balance works for me, and I’m finally allowing myself NOT to get stressed out.

  • Kacy April 6, 2011, 8:56 am

    As SOON as I can afford to hire a cleaning service I will do it with absolutely NO GUILT. Having a clean house makes me so happy, but I never have the time to clean it properly. Good for you!
    Love all the tips.

  • Lesley Lifting Life April 6, 2011, 8:57 am

    First off … a dirty house really stresses me too!!

    I work at home since January, and I felt my work/life go more so hand-in-hand now, and there’s a lot less of a separation. I can’t say that I mind though, at the same time. I really enjoy what I do, and since my husband works from home too, we get ample time together.

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life April 6, 2011, 8:59 am

    “I believe all of my hats are necessary and non-negotiable.”–> I totally agree! This is tough. Very smart to hire a cleaning service–I agree, it’s worth the money!

  • Jazmine April 6, 2011, 9:00 am

    I think it is fine to have more wore than leisure in your life as long as you enjoy your work. Being content no matter what you are doing is the key.

    However, I am wary of the idea of striving hard for achievement now in the hopes of having free time later. That mentality can last for the rest of your life. When I was on the PhD trek I thought I would work hard and later it would be fine, and then I realized I would FOREVER be climbing a ladder. But if it is a ladder you really enjoy climbing then nothing is lost.

    • Bethany April 6, 2011, 6:34 pm

      I completely agree with this. I’m a new attorney and am tempted to work crazy hours thinking once I get X years of experience under my belt, etc., then I’ll have a balance more. An experienced female attorney friend of mine at a big-time firm sat me down within a few months of starting work and said, choose your boundaries now, they will almost never change. That X event that you’re going to relax after you achieve will always transition into something different and further.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 6, 2011, 9:01 am

    I have a fantastic work-life balance. I work full time but still manage to have plenty of time to exercise 6 days a week, keep my house clean, care for a dog, and cook fresh dinners almost every night of the week.

    …my secret is knowing my limits and knowing when to say “No”.

  • Laine April 6, 2011, 9:01 am

    As a small business owner, outsourcing is how I achieve work/life balance. I am glad you hired a cleaning service, don’t give it up when your husband’s schedule calms down! Also, start figuring out ways to replace you as the receptionist, too. That might be a hat you need to wear right now, but it should not be a long term hat. Outsourcing bookkeeping is a time and sanity saver for me, too.

    I am very lucky to have an errand service that will pick up groceries, go to the bank, and post office for me while I’m working so that I’m not having to do all those things (I need to get to yoga class.)

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:56 pm

      One day we’ll hire someone else to do the phones, when we can afford it! 🙂 Outsourcing rules.

      • Stephanie C April 6, 2011, 5:55 pm

        Maybe you’ve already thought about this, but what about hiring someone part-time?

        • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 5:55 pm

          Can’t afford it yet 🙁

  • Nikki @ BareFootPrint April 6, 2011, 9:02 am

    Thank you for writing this! I cant tell you how many times I feel I am asking myself “What is this so called work/life balance everyone talks about!?”

  • Freya April 6, 2011, 9:03 am

    gaah I struggle with a work/life balance! I worry about work (ie uni/finding a job) soo much that I devote loads of time to studying, at the expense of life. I always, always find time to run, cook healthyily and to hug my horse, cos they are seen as non-negotiables in my opinion. I think they’re the backbones – if I don’t feel healthy, I won’t study well. BUt saying that, I don’t allow time to go out with people much, cos I feel I need to study. I need a better balance!

    Awesome tips here 🙂

  • Kristina @ spabettie April 6, 2011, 9:04 am

    I find I get MORE done the MORE I have to do! more structured and focused… and you are LOVING what you’re doing, right? there’s that. you seem to be able to fit it all in, exercise and social time, even if it is sometimes go Go GO… the one time a few years ago I really didn’t feel balanced was when I COULDN’T do everything I wanted – I was in the planning + building phase of opening a huge resort spa, and wasn’t doing much else… it calmed way down after we actually opened, so I was able to get back to normal. 🙂

  • Lindsey @ SoundEats April 6, 2011, 9:04 am

    I think part of a work/life balance is going with the ebb and flow of life. I’m married, I’m in school for a second degree, I work, and those are just the three big things. I know that some weeks I’ll have a lesser school load or a lesser work load, so those are the weeks that I’ll try to get a little ahead, take more yoga classes, and take more “me” time. We also find that spending time together, no distractions, is huge. Last night for example, we both had stuff to do, but we just ended up chilling, cuddling, and watching a TV show for an hour, and it felt SO GOOD to not have other distractions.

    Also – I think it helps to have really concrete goals. Obviously, being married and going back to school for a second bachelor’s degree followed immediately by a master’s degree is not how I saw my life unfolding. Sure it’s not the best at times, when I log onto facebook and see another friend bought a house, is pregnant/ had a baby, or is traveling extensively. That’s just not in my cards right now. But the thing is, I actively made the choices to be where I am now. This IS what I want, and even when the going gets tough, it’s never too bad, because I know why I’m here and I know what I’m working towards.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) April 6, 2011, 9:04 am

    We are in the same boat as you guys with owning our own business, but we have two boys. No, there is no balance. My husband works all the time. I think some times there is a point where you have to decide what you are working for. Is it fame, fortune, your house, food on the table, your kids college…then you start to realize how you can balance things out. We have gotten to the point where we’ve decided he works too much. Our family needs more down time together. This is where simplifying, for us, is coming in to play. We are working on it now, but hopefully soon we will get that balance.

  • lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner April 6, 2011, 9:06 am

    I think that rather than trying to find a 50/50 balance, you should just strive to feel satisfied with the work you’re doing and the free time you have. If you feel like all the free time you’re giving up is worth it, and still feel happy overall, I don’t think you should change anything right now.

    • Liz April 6, 2011, 12:43 pm

      I agree! I don’t think it should be about finding the 50/50 balance, I think it should be about finding the balance that works best in your life. If you’re not happy about your current balance, strive to “balance” it out even if that’s 20/80. If you are happy and content with your life it shouldn’t matter what that ratio is.

    • Christena April 6, 2011, 6:12 pm

      Agreed. I have never thought the term “balance” meant 50/50. Also, I agree with what you said: people who are super successful generally sacrifice “fun time.” Its helpful to me to think of my life in seasons…right now and since I got married I have been working hard. When I have children, I intend to give my non-work life higher priority. I also try to be intentional…like, out of balance ON PURPOSE and not just because I’m over-committed or can’t say no. I have changed jobs before because I was working too much but the work was not important to me. Priorities, priorities!

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg April 6, 2011, 9:09 am

    I think you have great tips — and I do not think anyone on earth can truly balance home/work/etc. Or if they do, it is for a short time.

    Honestly we just let things slide sometimes — we’ll go out to eat if we’re in a rush, most cleaning happens on the weekends, etc.

  • Lisa Fine [lisasfoods] April 6, 2011, 9:10 am

    I love the point you make about how women are the ones who feel pressured to maintain a balance, mostly because so many women work and still do most of the household chores, care for the kids, etc. We hold such high expectations for ourselves, when most of the women I know are overworked and have way too little time for themselves to do the things they love (that aren’t work too).

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething April 6, 2011, 9:11 am

    what a great thought provoking post caitlin! i just changed from being a teacher of 13 years to a high school administrator and it has been tough to find time for me in all the work i do now. sometimes as you mentioned you must not strive for perfection and just do what you can or else you will be too stressed out. i do work out in the morning but if i miss because i am too tired-i go easy on myself, i find time as well to take care of my personal appearance and that makes me happy, i spend quality time nesting, and i plan long workouts (like bike rides) for the weekends to de stress and enjoy the outside :). it is a balance but one must make sacrificies for the future. just important to not lose yourself along the way 🙂 drink wine too!

  • Erin April 6, 2011, 9:11 am

    I think balance might be different for everyone – for some people it might be 50/50 and others 70/30 or it might also look different at different times. The amount of time someone wants to devote to their job is going to vary based on how much they like their job, their personality, needs, etc. I think the key point is finding the right balance for YOU – I’m a teacher and there are a lot of days I work many many hours past when I’m actually ‘at work’ but most of the time I absolutely love it so often I don’t mind. Other times that’s not the case and I figure out how to get myself back to a point where I’m not stressed out. I think your point about achieving your goals (professionally and personally) without stressing yourself out or becoming unhappy is spot on.
    Also, I can’t believe your manicures are $25! I live in NC too (and not in a tiny town) and I can easily find one for $12-$14.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Wahhh why are mine so expensive?!

      • Ashlee April 6, 2011, 3:21 pm

        Caitlin try seeing if there’s a beauty school near you! You seem to live in a pretty urban area so there probably is, here they’re about $5-10. I think a mani/pedi is about $20 or so. And they really do a good job because they are the students that are almost to graduation and just getting their “clinical” type hours in. Plus hair cuts are $5, or $8 if you let them curl it or do something fancy to it! Such a good frugal way to get cute! 😉

  • Cindy @ The Flipping Couple April 6, 2011, 9:11 am

    I definitely think the 50/50 idea is unrealistic. At least, I know it is for me! But my husband and I have always several side jobs on top of full time work, so I know that’s part of it. Plus we’re DIY-ing an entire house remodel, which counts as another full time job! So the idea of a 50/50 balance is a joke to me. : ) BUT, I love what you said about working towards something. We have goals that require us working our butts off now, but it will be completely worth it!

  • Liz April 6, 2011, 9:11 am

    Love that you included mani/pedi in your list. It’s amazing how happy they can make you, especially now that it’s warming up! I’m a college student, so sleep is very, very important to me. I try to make sure I’m off the computer by 10 and in bed within the next hour, hour and a half. I unwind during this time by reading or writing in my journal. I loved this post so much and am starring it on my reader!

  • Christine April 6, 2011, 9:12 am

    I honestly think that 50/50 is just unrealistic entirely – think about it, even if you work a full time office job (lets say 9-5 w/ a commute so 8-6 or so) you’re still spending at least 70% of your awake time at work! That being said, I’ve found that certain things do help me de-stress: the cleaning person for the house was HUGE for me. It took a while for my husband to convince me it was a good idea but we now have someone that comes every other week to clean and it has opened up so much time (and removed stress) for me on the precious weekends! I also:
    -Make the effort to do yoga on both Saturday and Sunday (that way if I can’t squeeze it in Monday-Friday I still feel good)
    -Work out first thing in the morning (bonus: you’re always tired when it comes time to go to bed early!)
    -This is key to me: I take the time to do one big grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday and spend an hour chopping up ALL of the veggies for the weeks meals. I make a giant salad and portion it into 5 tupperware containers for lunch and make all of my breakfasts (overnight oats) and hubby’s sandwiches). Then I just top the salad with a different protein during the week. It is certainly not gourmet but it guarantees that we will eat healthy all week and it is one less thing for me to do when I’m on overdrive during the week.

  • Christine April 6, 2011, 9:12 am

    I honestly think that 50/50 is just unrealistic entirely – think about it, even if you work a full time office job (lets say 9-5 w/ a commute so 8-6 or so) you’re still spending at least 70% of your awake time at work! That being said, I’ve found that certain things do help me de-stress: the cleaning person for the house was HUGE for me. It took a while for my husband to convince me it was a good idea but we now have someone that comes every other week to clean and it has opened up so much time (and removed stress) for me on the precious weekends! I also:
    -Make the effort to do yoga on both Saturday and Sunday (that way if I can’t squeeze it in Monday-Friday I still feel good)
    -Work out first thing in the morning (bonus: you’re always tired when it comes time to go to bed early!)
    -This is key to me: I take the time to do one big grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday and spend an hour chopping up ALL of the veggies for the weeks meals. I make a giant salad and portion it into 5 tupperware containers for lunch and make all of my breakfasts (overnight oats) and hubby’s sandwiches). Then I just top the salad with a different protein during the week. It is certainly not gourmet but it guarantees that we will eat healthy all week and it is one less thing for me to do when I’m on overdrive during the week.

    • Kellie April 7, 2011, 1:20 pm

      does your lettuce & sandwiches keep well put together that early? sounds like a great idea!!

      • Christine April 7, 2011, 2:06 pm

        Yup! The salad holds up great (both in its own ziplock container and in a larger, covered salad bowl). The sandwiches I actually do 2 or 3 at a time, not all 5 (so I do like 3 on Sunday and 2 on Wed night) – hubby said its not quite as good as day 1 but in the interest of mental health we make it work 🙂

  • Erin @ Big Girl Feats April 6, 2011, 9:12 am

    I love, love, love that you posted about this. It’s such a big issues, especially for women. My book club is structured where we talk about themes and books each month (and we read nonfiction) so our first theme of the year was “work/life balance.” It was so interesting to see how each one of us (12 women total) felt they had no work/life balance, or had a hard time with it. I think it’s so common but we don’t talk about it because we don’t want to be seen as struggling – it’s so much easier to pretend we have it all together. I also think the media, magazines and other outlets tell us that we need to compete with each other too and instead of collaborating and talking about it, women feel like we fail because we think everyone else has the “perfect life.” Gah! It’s so crazy!

    I read something once that said balance isn’t where you want to be anyway. When you’re balanced – you’re stopped, you’re not moving forward or backwards. You’re trying to keep everything just so. That’s not feasible or possible and I definitely don’t want to be stopped – I think it’s more of figuring out what works for you. Thanks for bringing this issue up!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 6, 2011, 9:13 am

    This is SUCH a great post Caitlin, and I think you are so right when you say that work/life balance seems to be a bit of a myth. I also have a number of ‘hats’ that I wear, and right now I don’t feel like I can spend any less time on the professional ones because I need to put in the effort to get the results I’m satisfied with. Lately I’ve been trying to make myself focus on other non-professional hats (which are no less important – the friends and family ones) but often I find I don’t have time and the thought of knowing I’m not spending time with them stresses me out, which is totally NOT the goal of work/life balance! I love your tips and I agree with them. Going to bookmark this post as a reminder!

  • Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run April 6, 2011, 9:13 am

    My first thought, and this is coming from someone without kids – is that you will never be ready for them. But something happens that MAKES you ready once you do have them. So, you shouldn’t stress on that. WANTING them and being able to care for them is the most important part. So many people have kids that don’t want them.

    As for getting things done, I always do one chore in the morning before I leave for work. It makes me feel better about what I have to come home to. Even if it’s washing a couple dishes so the sink isn’t so piled up, or throwing in a load of laundry…it works.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 6, 2011, 9:18 am

    I completely agree that a perfect balance isn’t realistic – not every items requires equal attention at any given time. What does help me are to-do lists, planning my week’s meals in Excel (big dork), and remembering to take “me” time. If I need to take a run at lunch, I go. In the end it keeps me more focused/productive in the afternoon.

  • Lee April 6, 2011, 9:20 am

    Sarah at just wrote a good post about this!

  • Kara April 6, 2011, 9:22 am

    I think I have a perfect work/life balance, mostly because I don’t work. There is no line between work and life for me since my life’s work is taking care of a crazy little baby. It does suck sometimes when I have to work “overtime” aka up at night with the baby, but I get paid in cuddles, so I let it slide.

    Once your urge to procreate wins, you’ll find it pretty easy to shift your priorities for the kid. It might require crazy things like hiring an assistant for the clinic, but it would all work out.

    Not to analyze you, but you seem happier when you’re really busy. Whenever you finish a book/project, you seem “unhinged” by too much free time. Some people thrive on a busy schedule, so that is going to effect your work/life balance!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:54 pm

      Haha I love the first sentence of this comment.

    • Aundra | Fit for Life April 6, 2011, 3:53 pm

      “paid in cuddles” – LOVE it!

  • Heather C April 6, 2011, 9:25 am

    Perfect balance doesn’t have to mean 50/50 – reality is that we spend 8-10 (more for most) hours a day working, and there aren’t 8 more hours to spend on ourselves! Balance doesn’t necessarily have to mean half & half – in my opinion, it just means that you FEEL balanced. You feel like you’re giving enough time (not necessarily “equal” time), attention and effort towards all the things that are important to you – working towards goals, staying active, eating/feeling healthy, and spending time with people who matter to you. That you feel accomplished at the end of the day, ready to sleep soundly, because you’ve done what You wanted to. Getting that balance in your hands also means coming to terms with what works for you – which clearly you’re well on your way to doing 🙂

  • Becca April 6, 2011, 9:25 am

    Wow, you are a super busy lady! While I agree that you have to work hard to get what you want, I also believe that rest and “me-time” is just as important as all the “things” you accomplish. I used to work myself ceaselessly, and I was productive and successful, but since being in recovery for an ED, I’ve lessened my pace and taken off certain responsibilities. I’ve found that I am JUST AS productive and successful as I was when I was constantly working, but my soul is much, much happier. My life/work balance is much more balanced than before. So while I admire your go-getter schedule, I do hope you’re taking plenty of time to nurture yourself!

  • Cindy Robinson April 6, 2011, 9:28 am

    Thank you Caitlin for a great post. I’m married, have a 2 year old, work full-time, and just stared my own Pampered Chef business. So finding “balance” is something I’ve always heard about, and tried to struggle to find….but I think you’re right…being a woman, we do make things more complicated. Maybe it’s not this perfect thing we’re supposed to achieve….

  • Linda @ that bittersweet balance April 6, 2011, 9:29 am

    I work part-time (three days a week) by choice… whoever invented the five day working week was clearly either a workaholic or someone who had pots of money and didn’t need to work!

    My job is relatively low stress, but rewarding and enjoyable as I work with great people. The most important thing is that I forget about it as soon as I walk out the door so it definitely doesn’t keep me awake at night.

    The rest of my week is free to do as I choose… yoga, pilates, swimming, walking my doggy, baking, grocery shopping, drinking earl grey, reading/writing blogs, tidying my house, catching up with friends, daydreaming…

    I definitely don’t take all this for granted as I have a truly wonderful husband who supports my choice and makes my lifestyle possible. I also know that one day if we decide to have children, my me-time will be a thing of the past… so I might as well make the most of it now!

  • Kelly April 6, 2011, 9:30 am

    I think it is easier for people to maintain a work/life balance if they have more traditional jobs…i.e. not being self employeed. I have been on both ends of that spectrum and I was a lot better at balacing my work/life balance when I worked for the corporate world.

  • D April 6, 2011, 9:31 am

    Nope, no balance here. I find that even fitting in ‘fun’ activities just become a source of stress sometimes, but the only thing that really helps me out and makes me feel better is figuring out what is REALLY worth it and acknowledging that that will change every day. Some days I need to suck it up and go to all my classes, sometimes I need to sleep in rather than workout and then skip a class later so I can exercise. Sure, class is important, but if, on that given day, I need to run, then I need to run! I am a full time MA student, 20 hour a week research assistant and 20 hour a week receptionist/assistant at another busy job. I am expected to keep up with e-mails and tasks for BOTH jobs all week long, even when I’m not working. Which often leads me to sitting at the receptionist desk trying to deal with clients there, while e-mailing coworkers/clients/bosses about urgent issues at my research job (there’s a 24 hour turnaround on EVERY task or correspondence, no matter what or when), while hiding a textbook on my lap and trying to study for finals. It’s insane. But, I am trying to just LIVE and not feel bad if I want to take the morning off work or skip class or settle for an ‘average’ grade on a paper just to have some sanity.

  • Shannon @ A Pinch of Ginger April 6, 2011, 9:32 am

    Caitlin this post is so timely for me! I actually had a melt down in the office last week. And although I know it was unprofessional, the combination of work stress and sleep deprivation from stress was too much. I work in advertising where there is no 9-5 work day so I try to take 30 min- 1hr every other day for a run. Its my time to be alone, think and run the stress off. My dad always taught me work hard, play hard. I think we all just need to remember the play hard part 😉

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:54 pm

      sorry about your meltdown 🙁 It happens to us all at work eventually!

  • Lisa April 6, 2011, 9:34 am

    I love this post, Caitlin! This life/work balance is something I need to improve at, but for the time being I’ve found that I simply MUST prioritize sleep and exercise in order to maintain my sanity. I am a working musician (violinist) and I literally teach violin lessons 7 days a week. Additionally, I perform gigs and I also babysit to earn a bit of extra money. The kicker is that I am going through a quarter life crisis and I REALLY don’t like what I do anymore, so I am ALSO taking classes towards getting a master’s in dietetics to become a registered dietitian! Needless to say, right now my work life is pretty much like 100%, but I really enjoy taking classes because they feel like I’m helping myself move towards where I really want to be in life! (My dream is to work in a hospital setting to provide nutritional care to patients, especially those with eating disorders!)

  • Mary April 6, 2011, 9:37 am

    I agree that the work/life balance is a myth. The truth is, when you love what you do, it’s going to overlap into your “personal life.” AND, when you love what you do, you’re okay with that. I definitely think the women’s mags claiming “You Can Have It All!” contributes to this source of stress. Like you said, something is going to get sacrificed, and that something will change and evolve during our lives. I think that’s okay, because anything worth having is worth sacrificing something else for! Like you, we decided to sacrifice some unneccesaries to hire a monthly cleaning service and it’s SO worth it!

  • Dee April 6, 2011, 9:39 am

    I’m still trying to work out this balance myself. it ain’t easy and you’re absolute right. it takes a lot of hard work.

    I love everything you’ve written in this post. I can absolutely relate to so much.


    ps. a cleaning service sounds awesome!

  • Janie April 6, 2011, 9:39 am

    1. Weekly manicures 2. I wake up early and take the pup for a long walk in Central Park….and ALWAYS “forget” my Blackberry. 😉 3. Iced Coffee — I bring my lunch every day, so this is my treat before I go into work.

    Miss you! Hope you had fun in nyc!! xx

  • Charlene April 6, 2011, 9:42 am

    Great post! As a law student, I found that I didn’t really have much of a work/life balance – it was more extreme one way or the other – but even heavily skewed towards some type of ‘work’ during my holidays. I’ve just started working and even though I could just work my set hours, I frequently do work overtime so that I can get tasks done but I’ve made an effort to regularly exercise this past year (which I’m really enjoying now!) and have started learning a language! (and food blog!) I don’t mind working more (and have less life) temporarily if I know why I’m doing it, but I find that I get really stressed if I feel like I am out of balance for no conscious reason. I do think it is a bit of a guilt thing with women though. Interesting point about this being a somewhat artificial concept from women magazines/media…will need to think about it. I think as long as you enjoy what you do, and understand what sacrifices you need to make, then the work/life balance guilt thing should fall into place…easier said than done though!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 6, 2011, 9:42 am

    I obviously don’t know first hand, but I’ve been told by every single one of my mom friends that you NEVER have the time or the resources for kids- you just figure it out like you do everything else. 🙂

    I think if you love everything you do and think it’s important, there’s no reason to drop everything. Just make sure you’re in the moment of whatever you’re doing, especially when it comes to the “life” part- don’t be thinking about a book chapter while spending quality time with the husband, etc. 🙂

  • Chrissy (The New Me) April 6, 2011, 9:42 am

    I am always busy and over-committed, and I have a huge guilt complex, which is a terrible combination. 🙂 Some of the tricks I’ve come up with for more of a “balance” are to combine work and life!

    I like to hang out with my friends but I need time to work out. We make dates to run, rock climb or go for walks.

    My partner and I walk our dogs together most evenings. Time with the boy + tired and happy dogs = a balanced me.

    For me, it’s less of a balancing act and more of trying-to-fit-in-everything-I-love act. I have so many interests and ambitions that it’s hard to find time to tackle them all. But I know what you mean about not giving anything up – I wouldn’t either. My life is busy, but I love it. 🙂

  • Presley April 6, 2011, 9:43 am

    Thanks for the post! I think my work/life balance is more 75/25… However, I try to make sure that my “work” is always something I enjoy. I teach during the day and love it, I coach the running club in the afternoons and have a great time, and right now I’m working during the Masters and enjoying every second. I think it’s all in how you spin it! I feel like I’m in “life” and not “work” mode a majority of the time!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) April 6, 2011, 9:49 am

    For me the biggest downfall to my personal life is technology! I used to always be on the computer doing work at night time…sometimes right up til midnight. It wore me down and I knew I needed to make a change.

    Now I finish my work by 7ish (with the odd exception) and I close down for the night. Sometimes I still catch myself responding to emails and whatnot, but for the majority of time, my evening is personal time now. So far I have noticed a HUGE improvement in my happiness. During the work day, I try to break it up with stretching and I also stay active on my feet as much as I can.

    We’ve also committed to some evening group exercise activities (like volleyball) to look forward to. Its fun to have a fun event to look forward to each week and you literally cannot be doing work while out of the house!

    Great post!

  • Michelle April 6, 2011, 9:53 am

    One of my favorite quotes is “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – Guess it’s more about perspective than anything 🙂

  • Khushboo April 6, 2011, 9:53 am

    Work/life balance is definitely easier said than done.  Something important always pops up.  Great ways to destress for me def include morning exercise.  If i don’t, it’s an added stress when to fit it in.  Spa days and massages are up there too.  No better way to destress than pampering yourself.

  • Johanna B April 6, 2011, 9:54 am

    When I first learned to meditate I used a candle flame as a focal point. Now, the simple act of lighting a candle in the evening when I get home is calming for me. I always have a candle burning when I am at home.

  • Lauren April 6, 2011, 9:54 am

    Love, love, love this post!!! I 100% agree with everything you said! Like seriously Caitlin, how do your posts just keep getting better and better!? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. YOU ROCK. 🙂

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:53 pm

      Thank you Lauren 🙂

  • Lisa (I'm an Okie) April 6, 2011, 9:55 am

    I think that life is never COMPLETELY balanced. I think reaching a perfect 50/50 with life and work isn’t reasonable or really attainable. I think it’s just making the effort too. I love what one girl said on twitter about planning time each day to do something for yourself and be calm and relaxed.

  • 'laina April 6, 2011, 9:59 am

    Darlin’, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this thing called life it’s that if you wait for things to be perfect before doing XYZ, you’ll never do XYZ. It pertains to my own 60 lb. weight loss that I can’t seem to get on track with, but I’m also talking about having babies.. we have 6 (blended family). I already had 2, he had 3 and we weren’t wanting another just because it was already a full house. But, despite an IUD, my little guy decided he wanted to see the world and we had #6. We didn’t have any more finances than before, and we definitely weren’t prepared with (couldn’t afford) baby furniture and all the little extras- but we made due with what we had, and did the best we could (your hubby is right) and you know what- I could NEVER imagine life without my little guy. And everything is just fine.

    If your body is telling you it’s time.. maybe it’s time to listen to it? Having a baby doesn’t stop life as you know it, it just adjusts things around a bit.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:53 pm

      Congrats on baby #6 🙂 You must be so proud of your family!

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) April 6, 2011, 9:59 am

    Story of my life! I can’t figure out the right balance either, but I’m trying. I do think the standards for women are a little higher, especially when you start add in the baby-factor. How can we be all that and a bag of chips? I think as long as you are happy, you’re doing something right!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 6, 2011, 10:00 am

    SUch a greeeat post! I think everyone feels that their life isn’t the most balanced since we are usually our own biggest critic. I think taking the bull by the horns and making changes to let your schedule be liveable (like hiring a cleaning service) are great steps to be stress free!

    I am also a planner. I plan each of my days so I know what to expect goign into them. Obviously that doesn’t always work out as schedules/plans change!

  • Melissa April 6, 2011, 10:02 am

    I majorly struggle with “the balance” though I would say today it’s improved over 2 months ago but I know it’s b/c I’m in a “less busy” cycle at work.

    I work in a high stress job with mostly men in their 40s and 50s who have stay at home wives who run the household. I feel a lot pressure to keep the same hours as the men (often 7-6 or 7-7, not including commute) even though when I leave I still want/need to workout, attend to my household and errands and actually spend quality time with Matt and my doggies.

    I worry about what will happen to my career when we have kids; I truly fear that my growth will be stunted b/c there will be NO way I can keep this pace with a young child and actually be a nurturing and present mother.

    • Em April 6, 2011, 3:18 pm

      I worry about this too.

  • Evan Thomas April 6, 2011, 10:05 am

    I don’t really have a job(except for student/blogger) and I haven’t for some time. But when I did it was a standard 9-5 and I pretty much hated it. I hated having to be in work mode during the day and not during the night. Maybe I’m masochistic, but I would want a job that requires me to be on my game all day. If I truly love what I’m doing I’d hope it to not feel like a job.

  • Sarah April 6, 2011, 10:07 am

    Caitlin, I think it’s good that you’re taking a look at this balance. I have to admit that sometimes when I read your blog I marvel at your accomplishments but wonder, “but is she happy? I hope so!” I think the answer to your work-life balance comes down to your answer to that question, as well as your deepest priorities.

    I can narrow down my priorities based on my answer to this question: if you knew your life was ending in one year, what would you want to do with the last year? What professional/personal/spiritual/etc things would you want to focus on? I truly don’t mean to sound morbid at all–it’s just that we never know how much time we have left, and like another commenter said, I think it is a fallacy to think “in a few years it will be better, so I don’t mind a little misery now.” A few years can take a huge toll on you emotionally, financially, spiritually, relationally. If there are areas of your life that make you unhappy or that you find unfulfilling now, make your exit plan now. Life is too short.

    I don’t think work-life balance is a myth–in the last year, I have settled into a work-life balance that truly makes me happy, where I can pursue almost everything I’m interested in, where I feel like I can give my all to everything I do. I don’t think it will always be this easy to maintain, and as life changes and I (hopefully) progress in my career, I’m sure I will need to adapt to some changes as well, but I know I have the balance right now because every day I lay down to sleep confident that I have been the best “Sarah” I can be and that I have pursued the things that are really important to me. I could make more money, buy instead of rent a house, have a nicer car, or gain more accolades living differently, but those things really don’t fulfill me in the same way as my job at a nonprofit, my loving marriage relationship, my involvement with my family, and my friends and so they just aren’t worth it.

    Work-life balance isn’t a specific work:home ratio or something that you can mark off a to-do list as an achievement; it’s a journey, with twists and turns. Through it all, I think you can be successful and at peace if you focus on the things that fulfill you and make sure you can give your all to them. It looks like you are already on your way towards doing this by hiring out your house cleaning. There may be other changes that you need to make, or maybe not. Regardless, I think it’s fabulous that you’re examining this on your blog–“health,” after all, is multidimensional. It’s not just the body–it’s your spirit.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:52 pm

      Great comment, thank you!

    • Christie {Nourishing Circle} April 6, 2011, 3:19 pm

      I 100% adore this comment and agree 100%. I don’t believe that balance is a number equation that we can mark off of our to do list, it is about how we feel and how fulfilling our life is right now.

      Now that I am self employed, I think I work harder than I ever have in my entire life but I feel deeply satisfied by it and it doesn’t feel the same as when I worked for “the man”. I have also taken major steps to let go of the things that don’t truly light me up and I take as much time as I need to re-charge. Doing so allows me to be more creative and get more out of the hours I do spend working. I have also found that listening to my body is the best guide I have about the lifestyle choices I am making.

      We don’t know how long we have here and there are no guarantees so we have to make the best of the time we do have – the present.

    • M April 6, 2011, 9:04 pm

      “If you knew your life was ending in one year,what would you want to do with the a last year?”
      WOW. Wonderful question that suddenly makes me want to question my current life choices and worries.

      In my mind, we should all turn off our computers, avoid blogs etc for a bit….and just consider that question.

      I am beginning to think many of us WILL regret spending so much time online ,when we could be living more in the real world with those we love and the great outdoors.

      If this was our last year alive….how would YOU want to spend your time?

      Thank you Sarah for the inspiring question/comment and
      best wishes Caitlin-hope we all don;t “wait” to start truly living our lives. This is it folks-time to tutn this laptop OFF!!

  • Amanda @ Cucina Amanda April 6, 2011, 10:14 am

    I don’t know if I have a 50/50 balance, but my fiancé and I are very dedicated to leaving work at work. That’s easier for than him because I would get fired if I actually took work home with me.

    We barely have enough time together as it is, so when we come home, it’s time for us. I turn off the computer and neither of us really play on our iPhones. We also try to schedule our workouts together.

    We also have plans for basically every weekend of the year. The weekends are our time, and neither of us do any work….that includes blogging. I rarely do any blogging on the weekends, because I believe that building my relationship with him, our friends, and family is ultimately more important and more rewarding than stressing myself out over work.

    Hope that helps!!

  • Katie April 6, 2011, 10:15 am

    i don’t think it’s just a female thing. i work in HR with mostly men, and many of them submit feedback to me and their office mentors with the lowest scoring item being work/life balance. there are the few that admit to being workaholics and that they do it to themselves, but for the most part they are just as unhappy as the women in the office. i think we as women have other things on our mind that would balance out the work, but that doesnt mean we are any more or less susceptible to wanting a true balance between our working life and our personal lives.

    i live by myself and don’t currently have a significant other, and i work in a place that has also very much become my life – i love my job more than anything and so i don’t MIND bringing work home or answering emails late into the night. however, when the time comes for that to change, i will set boundaries. don’t answer emails after 9pm, etc. i work in a 24/7 industry (consulting) and we have done numerous trainings as an admin staff on how to step away, and many of the tips and tricks have been truly helpful!

    good luck finding your balance, i think it is different for everyone!

    • Melissa April 6, 2011, 3:47 pm

      I agree that whatever balance makes you happy is important but I often wonder about just being able to “shut it off” at an xyz point down the road b/c a new level of balance is needed. For me, I have established a level of productivity or pattern that people have come to expect and I wonder if a “lesser” level of performance will be viewed negatively or come off that I am not as committed to my job/career.

      • Katie April 6, 2011, 3:57 pm

        I think if you are clear about what your intentions are no one will view your changing commitment differently, but that might be a bit of an idealist attitude. If you are required to maintain a certain level of commitment, then perhaps reworking when you put that time in will work for you, or maybe you are exceeding expectations and so if you pull back a bit it won’t negatively impact others.

        i definitely understand where you are coming from, but i think we set our own boundaries and we teach people what is okay – i have had to learn to not respond to emails after a certain time, because then i am setting the expectation that it is okay to email me and be upset about not getting a response.

        • Melissa April 6, 2011, 4:18 pm

          Good points.
          Very much agreed on the boundaries…just b/c someone emails at 11:45pm or 4:00am doesn’t mean I need to answer right then 🙂

  • steph April 6, 2011, 10:17 am

    I have a hard time getting a work/life balance right now. I had a temporary job but now that is over and I feel like I have to commit 150% of my time to a job search again… but I want to have a LIFE too. It’s definitely frustrating.

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope April 6, 2011, 10:17 am

    GREAT post!

    I believe there really isn’t such a things as balance. I’ve found that PRIORITIZING is what works for me! I have a lot going on in my life… college, teaching yoga, exercise, blogging, socializing, relaxing, everyday tasks. I always try to focus on whatever area truly needs my attention most at any moment. I always have developed a lot of healthy “habits” in my daily schedule such as exercising and doing schoolwork at certain times during the day. I try to schedule out my days beforehand and never leave anything to the last minute. I definitely have a busy life, but I love each and every part of it and it’s what makes me ME! 🙂

  • Sarah for Real April 6, 2011, 10:18 am

    I think part of your work-life balance struggle is definitely related to working from home and being your own boss. My husband also struggles with this, though he doesn’t call it “work-life balance.” I don’t know the solution. We try to manage things by keeping our eyes on the horizon. We plan fun, relaxing adventures, even if it’s just a picnic for the upcoming weekend.

    Also, I have to say I struggle with being a woman and working full time. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I think it’s just part of how I am made.

  • JenP April 6, 2011, 10:19 am

    An old boss once told me that balance is a myth and that trying to achieve it will just stress you out. It’s more about prioritizing and blending and flexibility. I try to remember that. I walk with a book on tape during lunch (exercise/me time), walk laps around the soccer field with a friend during my kids’ practices (exercise/friend time), bike ride with my kids (exercise/family time), etc. If I tried to get to a gym to exercise, I’d be stressed out because it would be taking time away from other things I need/want to do. I make being home for dinner a priority, even if that means logging back on to work after the kids go to bed. I work at home if there’s a school event I want to attend. Luckily, I have a boss who understands that family is important and knows that I’ll still get the work done. I, too, hired a cleaning service so I can spend my weekends with my family. I consider cooking a hobby, so feeding my family can also be relaxing. By blending work, family and personal time, I’m able to get everything done and not feel stressed. When I can’t blend – big project at work, sick kid, etc – I just remind myself that it’s temporary and do my best until I can get back to normal.

    • Orla April 6, 2011, 11:24 am

      It sounds like you have a great outlook and perspective on things.

    • Ashlee April 6, 2011, 4:29 pm

      Amazing outlook! I’m going to remember that since I’m a college student and I know if it’s bad now, it’ll probably just get worse! So thank you for your wisdom!

  • Jen @ keepitsimplefoods April 6, 2011, 10:21 am

    Great post! I can relate to the struggle of maintaining work/life balance. I work a full time job, run a blog, freelance write, write for pleasure, am in the midst of planning my upcoming wedding, run our household (with the help of my sweet bald man) and deal with everyday stuff. It can be tough! I find that mapping out a schedule and sticking to it is really helpful. This is a trick I learned in lawschool so that I wouldn’t waste time or get distracted. It really helps!

  • chelsea April 6, 2011, 10:22 am

    When you dont have kids 50/50 isn’t going to happen. Work your tail off now so you can build up a nest egg, then when you have kids you can take a step back from a few things. The reality of it is that the majority of Americans live this way. It’s the whole “American Dream” thing, we work ourselves to death for happiness, money, saving for retirement, traveling etc…I know its hard to work from home, because you could work from the time you wake until the time you go to sleep and your mind is always racing. Maybe we should take a lesson from Europeans about work vs relax time. Like in Eat Pray Love when she is in Italy the guy talks about “just being” I cant imagine just being…..maybe while doing the dishes.

    • Lucy @ The Sweet Touch April 6, 2011, 10:37 am

      My brother and I basically had this exact convo over the weekend. Interesting to think about what we are really working for…

    • Sarah April 6, 2011, 10:46 am

      I think you’ve really touched on the cultural aspect of the whole work/life balance. As a European living in the Mediteranean region, and having some American friends, I’m amazed at how hard Americans work. It’s a great work ethic, and I’ve watched my friends accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. BUT, in the words of the poet William Henry Davies:
      What is this life if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      • Erin @ Big Girl Feats April 6, 2011, 5:03 pm

        SO interesting! I have international friends who say this too. I wonder if work/life balance is less of a female thing, and more of an American trait that we deal with?

        • lindsey April 6, 2011, 10:01 pm

          Definitely agree with this! I am from the US but have been living in Australia for the past four years. People here “work to live” rather than “live to work”. Everyone here gets four weeks off from work a year – they can’t understand how Americans get only get one or two weeks off.

  • Ally April 6, 2011, 10:26 am

    I got a huge wakeup call this last fall when I started going back to grad school. I was getting up to run in the morning and going to yoga at night and I pretty much exhausted myself. Now, I try to compartmentalize by reminding myself of what MUST be done.

  • Allison @ onewhitetulip April 6, 2011, 10:28 am

    Caitlyn, I’m at work so I can’t link to the article, but google “The Gloss Bullish Maybe work life balance means you should work more.” I promise it helps! The author talks about how women who want to have kids should work lots of hours in their 20s and see it as an investment.

  • Chelsea April 6, 2011, 10:29 am

    Great post! I think you are just in a busy season of your life 🙂 You guys are hard workers! Would you do a budget follow-up post sometime? I really liked your previous ones.

  • kalin April 6, 2011, 10:30 am

    Alcohol helps.
    Just sayin’….

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:50 pm

      Tis true.

  • Ashley (The Vegetable Life) April 6, 2011, 10:31 am

    Gah finding a balance is really so so so hard to do! I am still working on finding my balance but for me trial and error is the only way to find a schedule and balance that fits my lifestyle!

  • Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment April 6, 2011, 10:32 am

    I don’t necessarily think the W/L balance is a manufactured myth, but I do think that as women, particularly in our 20s, we are faced with greater pressure than ever before to make sure that we can “have it all” — we’ve been pre-conditioned since we were small that we should be able to “be a teacher, win the Nobel Prize, cure cancer, write a NYT bestseller ALL WHILE BEING A FABULOUS MOTHER/WIFE!” It’s no wonder we suffer from this burden of feeling like we have to be everything, to everyone, ALL OF THE TIME, but it’s important to realize that we can’t do that. Like you said, it’s about making sacrifices in some areas while compensating for others… and even those who say they have a good W/L balance will admit to having to sacrifice SOMETHING to do it, even if it was a willing sacrifice. The difference, for them, though, is that they don’t seem to have the paralyzing guilt that some of us do about whether they chose the “right” thing to give up.

    I spent a summer living with my aunt and uncle between my junior and senior years of college, trying to figure out my work/life balance before I had a nervous breakdown. My uncle, who is probably the smartest man I know with respect to money/work-life balance, taught me a VERY important lesson, which I seriously consider each and every time I’m debating whether to shell out the money for something that seems “extraneous” to others (like your cleaning people!). He told me:

    “Everything has a convenience fee; you have to decide if the fee is worth your convenience. If it is, pay it without a single regret.”

    True words to live by, in my case. My laundry is one of those convenience fees; I pay the extra money to drop it off in the morning and pick it up in the evening once every few weeks, because, for me, the extra money is worth not having to spend an entire gorgeous Saturday in a laundromat. Manicures and my gym membership are two other expenses I justify; I’d rather have that time to myself, FOR myself, than an extra dinner out or what have you. That’s how I find my W/L balance; it’s not perfect, but it’s working for me!

  • Sarah April 6, 2011, 10:38 am

    I think the idea of a work/life balance only really applies if you don’t love/believe in what you’re doing at work. If you believe that your professional roles are important and you derive benefit from them, then it’s not really work. It’s life.
    I remember you saying that you used to work in an office in a job that you hated. That was work: you didn’t enjoy it and had to fit in the things you do like and are important to you around it. You could easily give up some of your professional ‘hats’ if you wanted to, but you don’t. And I don’t believe it’s because of income, it’s because you want to do it. It’s your choice. It’s your LIFE.
    I think it’s more of an issue of having so many activities on the go, regardless of whether or not they’re professional or personal. But then I believe in making the most of the opportunities that we get (provided they’re what we want, of course). So my soloution is: stop worrying and enjoy the busy. Odds are it won’t last forever. 😀

  • Runeatrepeat April 6, 2011, 10:40 am

    I don’t think 50/50 is realistic for most people, but especially when you have your own business (in your case you guys have 2)! I know my husband has a corporate type job and I would say his balance is 80/20.
    I think your 20s are for building up your career, resume and savings – and that calls for more than 50% of your time and effort. Ideally, you bring that down some once you’re established. Or if money isn’t as important to you, and you want to raise your baby with lots of love in a one bedroom apartment, then you can do the 50/50. It’s all about priorities I guess.

  • Amanda@LessonsinModeration April 6, 2011, 10:40 am

    I believe you can find the balance but I don’t know how. Especially when my work stuff takes up so much time and there is no intersection between work and fun for me. The way I find balance now is to work hard when I’m at work and relax when I’m at home. When I’m not at the office I do everything in my power not to think about work, because the time I have to relax and do fun stuff is so limited.

  • Marissa April 6, 2011, 10:41 am

    I heard a speaker a few years ago say something and it really is true. She said, there is no such thing as a work/life balance…there’ll be times when your work requires more of you and there’ll be times when your life requires more of you. But there will never be a single moment when each component of your life gets equal attention and striving for that moment is simply unattainable.

    What she said is so true and it really has helped me as I work 50 hours a week at my job and work on my MBA part time. At this point in my life, work and school are the two components that are more heavily weighted. My personal, running, and social lives don’t get much weight and for now, that’s okay. Do I want to live like this forever? No, but right now, it’s necessary.

    It goes back to the idea of seasons and just like there are seasons in a year, there are seasons in a life. In my life, I’m in my “work hard and study hard” season; last year was my “marathon running and crazy physical pursuits” season.

    Also, I’m very fortunate to have a husband who understands how important getting my masters degree is and supports me completely in that endeavor.

  • LIz April 6, 2011, 10:46 am

    This is one of those posts where I read every single comment. I just got a full time job, have a part time fellowship and a super part time volunteer internship plus volunteering at the SPCA…oh and I’m training for a half marathon. And I have a boyfriend. And cats. And I think friends and family….thankfully some of these commitments are going to end around mid-May so some extra time should free up, which will be awesome. And I do similar things like making running dates with friends so I can kill two birds with one stone.

    BUT work/life balance is always an issue…I agree with the other commenters that if you’re enjoying everything you’re doing, it’s worth it. Working hard is okay as long as you don’t want to pull your hair out. If you’re working hard because you think you “should” but you’re miserable, then maybe not worth it – even if you’re saving up for something. Sanity over savings (because if you go nuts, you can’t use the money!!) I don’t think the idea of work/life balance is a myth, but I think the way it’s constructed is…it doesn’t have to be 50/50, in fact it most likely won’t be, but it’s good to consider maintaing your personal life amongst your professional responsibilities.

    And GOOD CALL with the cleaning service – we are doing that too because trying to clean the house was just not working. My boyfriend works at a start up and also has so little time, and we don’t want to spend it cleaning!!!

  • Jen April 6, 2011, 10:50 am

    I spent 2 years of my life with zero work-life balance. As a new teacher and Teach for America corps member, I found myself working 100+ hour weeks (I wish I was exaggerating) to fit in the instruction, planning, grading, certification courses, and professional development required of me. I did a really poor job of managing my time because I felt so compelled to affect change. How could I treat myself to a trip to the gym when I knew what my students went home to? How could I not give 200%? Needless to say, I haven’t really mastered the work/life balance, but I also don’t think it’s about a 50/50 see-saw balance. For me it’s closer to the sanity bit – do you feel balanced as a person or is your physical or emotional health suffering at expense of your employment. Your health is most important and should be taken care of. Otherwise, create your own balance. As you would say, take pride in the uniqueness of your lifestyle!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:49 pm

      100 hours a week?! Crazy. You need a manicure!

      • Jen April 6, 2011, 2:51 pm

        I’ll take that as an order. Yes ma’am! 😛

  • JenRD April 6, 2011, 10:51 am

    Wow, what a great topic. Something that I also have been thinking about a lot lately, with a baby on the way. While logically, the 50/50 breakdown you mention makes sense, I don’t think it ever works out that way (and probably was created by women’s magazines!). Instead, I prefer to think of a work/life balance more in terms of how you feel mentally. For example, are you happy and fulfilled in you work? Do you feel that you have a strong relationship with your significant other? Make an effort to be healthy each day? I find that it only sets myself up for failure & frustration if I try to put a certain time allotment on work, personal, family, exercise, etc.
    Last year, I was working about 40 hrs/wk in a job I hated. I was unhappy at work, and took that unhappiness home with me. Although I worked out about 6 days a week, and had plenty of time for my husband and friends, those relationships were definitely strained b/c I never felt mentally balanced. Now, I have a job I love, & actually am working more hours than before. However, I feel much more balanced now–and my relationships are stronger because of it.
    Bottom line? I think of the balance in terms of QUALITY and not QUANTITY. I try not to guilt myself for missing a workout, or forgetting to make my lunch and ordering take-out–as long as I make an effort to be healthy most of my time. Sending little e-mails to friends I haven’t seen in a while to let them know I am thinking of them works too. Oh, and mani’s/pedi’s also are wonderful! And hiring a cleaning service? Brilliant!


  • JenRD April 6, 2011, 10:54 am

    Oh, and I agree that supply & demand drive down the prices of manis. I live in a suburb of NYC, and can get a mani/pedi for $17; mani alone is $8. However, there are probably about 10 nail salons within a 5 block radius of where I go. $70 for a cleaning service is a great deal, though!

  • Ellie @ The Mommyist April 6, 2011, 10:55 am

    My balance is pretty heavy on the life and light on the work right now. I had a baby about 3 years ago and my husband and I decided it was important to both of us that we raise our child, not daycares. We have no family near by. I’ve been staying home with her ever since. I was early in my career when the pregnancy happened and I’m sure I’ll have to start from scratch when i do go back to work but it’s all been worth it to me. I will never regret spending this time with my daughter.

    On a similar note, my husband would tell you there is no good time to have a baby so you should probably just do it now. That message is brought to you from a man who was terrified and a little mad when I got pregnant almost 4 years ago. He didn’t know how we could survive on his less than impressive salary, but knew he didn’t want to put our kid in daycare. But we’ve been making it work, slowly things have been getting easier and he’s thrilled our girl could be a part of our “salad years.”

  • meagan April 6, 2011, 10:56 am

    I have a few thoughts on this. One, I think the lie isn’t work-life balance necessarily, but the idea that we can HAVE IT ALL. You know, the loving family, the forward-moving career, trendy home, busy social life and amazing sex life, to boot. I don’t believe you can have it all, and certainly not perfectly, not all the time. You have to know your limitations, accept them and be happy with who you are.

    The thing is, each of our situations is unique. Some people have to work 60+ hours to pay off debt, to keep from going under, etc. Some, like me, choose to be stay at home moms because, hell, child-care would put us *in* debt! Some like working, some don’t, some need more leisure time than others, some can work all the time. A friend of mine is like this–she can work till her fingers fall off and never be happier. Me? I need at least a half-hour a day to myself to feel normal and function like a human.

    Know yourself, say no, have good boundaries, and think about what you can live with–and what you can’t.

    Also–on the subject of kids–you’ll never be ready for them. Building up a nest egg is wise, but there are always more things that seemingly need doing before kids. The real kicker–and one that we had to deal with too, as my husband works at a small start-up–is not having maternity insurance. I know that that can make the idea of pregnancy and childbirth very scary. All I can say on that end is: always ask about cash-pay discounts 🙂

    Good luck. Listen to your intuiton, partner with your husband, and you’ll do great.

  • Lauren @ LaDolcePita April 6, 2011, 10:57 am

    I think work/life balance is relative…it depends on your personality, line of work, etc. I personally agree with you, that is almost impossible to reach an ideal balance. Unless you are extraordinarily rich, and/or are OK with living without luxuries like travel, new clothes, a car, healthy organic groceries, etc. – it’s hard to find a job that will both pay adequately AND give you ample free time. My “free time” is often spent running errands and cleaning…so I hear you!

  • betty@runbetty April 6, 2011, 10:58 am

    There is an EXCELLENT book called “Work + Life – Finding the Fit That’s Right for You” by Cali Williams Yost.

    The main premise of the book is work/life FIT. (Not balance – which pressures women to feel like we must be 50/50, as you mentioned in your post…)

    The book contains several exercises and worksheets to help you 1) Identify your priorities 2)Assess your work style 3)Find a FIT that is right for YOU.

    I know it is time consuming to go through all this, but I promise you it was the best 2 days I spent in my career – I feel so much more in control of how I work and live, and so much happier when I have the right mix of work + life.

    Happy reading!!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:45 pm

      I will check this out – thank for the recommendation!

      • Sarah April 6, 2011, 7:38 pm

        168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is also a great book about helping you prioritize what you should spend your time on. The author is a mommy/freelance writer–you could probably relate to her, Caitlin!

  • Verna April 6, 2011, 10:59 am

    Baby fever, is a serious thing! Once you catch it, it’s hard to live with! ; ) I’ve been there!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) April 6, 2011, 10:59 am

    All this talk of meal prep reminded me I had beans simmering on the stove! Totally almost left my house with thee burner on… that could have ended badly 🙂

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin April 6, 2011, 11:00 am

    I am no where NEAR 50/50 balanced! It’s more like 80/20 work/family ratio for me… however, this works for now, because my husband is equally as committed to his work! We get our quality time together, but both need our work time, too. I have a feeling when we decide to have kids (eek– worried about when we’ll do that as well!) the balance will TOTALLY switch. Something like 95% family/5% work! LOL 😀 As long as I’m keeping my sanity, and my family is happy, I feel “balanced” however the ratio works out!

    I refuse to spend money on manicures, too! There’s something very therapeutic about doing it myself! Love the idea of a cleaning service. Sounds like a great investment for your sanity!

  • Colette April 6, 2011, 11:00 am

    As a mom of 3 young girls (2,4,6) who works outside the house, I can totally relate to this “pressure” to have it/do it all. One of the best peices of advice I’ve gotten:

    “You can have it all… just not all at the same time.”

    I could have taken a few different job opportunities over the last couple of years, but I CHOSE not to. Life is all about choices and sometimes, delayed gratification.

    I’m also blessed to have a hubby who is a stay-at-home dad to our beautiful girls. Again, it’s not easy, I don’t make a lot of money (more than his pre-kids teacher salary), but again… it’s all about the choices we make. We don’t have all the latest gadgets and we don’t take a lot of trips, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me April 6, 2011, 11:01 am

    I think work-life balance is extremely important. But in your situation it’s a lot more difficult because your life is pretty much your work. You need to be thinking about posts and work etc all the time. I have my job from 8-5 and that’s what I work and I go home to do things I enjoy. I feel like time outside of work, whether that’s spent blogging, being with friends, exercising, cooking etc is part of my “life” balance. These are things I enjoy doing and how I want to spend my time. You only live once and it’s so important to live life and enjoy it! I definitely think you should work your tail off for something you want to accomplish. But for now I’m very happy having a job where I go to work, do my job, come home and enjoy my life. It’s definitely different for everyone.

  • Colette April 6, 2011, 11:02 am

    Oh – and one more thing regarding not being ready for kids (time/finances)… you’ll never feel ready. You can plan and prepare as much as possible, but at some point you just have to make that choice. Then do it and make it work. If you don’t take that leap, you’ll never do it. 🙂

  • jenn April 6, 2011, 11:04 am

    Thanks for including my tweet 🙂 Another thing that helps me is to not procrastinate…no matter how easy it is. Sometimes I fail at this, but I found a quote once that helped me out. “Do what you should do, when you should do it – whether you feel like it or not.” Once you get those annoying “must-do’s” out of the way…stress level goes way down!

  • Emily April 6, 2011, 11:04 am

    OK time for some tough (but well intentioned) love- you DO have a work-life balance! You’re busy, obviously, but you have managed to make time for a lots of activities outside of work. If you had no time to run or sleep or do anything fun other than work, I’d say you should adjust. But it seems like you have a pretty good “work hard, play hard” schedule going. Your other option would be to dump all your commitments outside of work (including Girls on the Run, your fave!) and then spend your free time watching TV or laying around. Doesn’t seem like you want that. So relish the fact that you DO have the time and energy to do everything you do. You just don’t have time to do nothing- but after college, who really does? This going to sound bitchy, but I don’t mean it to be: try to be grateful for the fact that you have a fulfilling life and that being busy and stressed is the price you pay for it. There are a lot of people who are lonely or underemployed or whatever who would love to have the opportunities you do. You’re doing a great job taking advantage of those opportunities and taking care of yourself and your family at the same time- just keep it up!

    Disclaimer: this is coming from an NYC law student, so my perspective may be a little skewed. 🙂

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:44 pm

      Good advice 🙂

  • Orla April 6, 2011, 11:04 am

    I feel that it is getting harder to get a proper work/life balance. We have seen a huge increase in unemployment and with that the constant reminders that “you are lucky to have a job” and that “if you don’t want the job there are plenty more who would jump at it” (not from my employer I need to add)
    Hearing things like that constantly and being in fear of losing a job makes it nigh on impossible to achieve that balance properly.
    One idea I had when reading your post about things like pizzas – Have you thought of making your own pizza dough and freezing it? I make a large batch of dough every couple of weeks and freeze individual portions. It takes about 25-35 minutes to make a batch (including leaving it to rise etc) and I know exactly what is in it. When I want to a pizza for dinner, I just take the dough out of the freezer that morning and it takes 15 minutes to throw together when I am home from work. Just an idea!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:43 pm

      I definitely need to try making my own frozen pizza – maybe something to do this weekend?

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence April 6, 2011, 11:05 am

    50/50 definitely does not work for me- I’m only in college, but I can’t afford to not be doing work for 8 hours a day. That being said, I have limited some of my responsibilities as of late because I am happiest when I am able to relax and spend time with my loved ones.

  • Errign April 6, 2011, 11:09 am

    I ADORE this post. As a busy college student, I’m often juggling a full course load, Model UN club, a weekend job barista-ing, a work study job as a study abroad peer advisor, being a healthy eater, exercise time, playing with my dog, keeping my house clean (such a huge stressor for me too!), and trying to get some relaxing time. It’s nice to know that others struggling with balancing everything too & I too have wondering if this idea of properly balancing work and home is something that was created to make busy people feel bad.

    Can’t it just be okay to get everything done and be a little busy bee once and awhile, instead of worrying that you’re spending the “right” amount of time on everything? 🙂 Thanks for this post – going to link up to it in my post today.

  • Ashley April 6, 2011, 11:09 am

    This is a great post! I work in Human Resources for a nonprofit so work/life balance is a topic that we discuss A LOT. Since we often can’t compete with salary, we strive to have a competitive benefits package which includes flexible scheduling. Other commenters have mentioned this as well, but I don’t think there is one equation for successful work/life balance. I think it is much like healthy living where it is different for every person and it can change over time. It is the ratio between work and life where you feel most balanced and most fulfilled. If you are single it may be 80:20 (work:life), then if you get married it may change to 60:40 (or stay 80:20 if that is what works for you!). I think the hardest thing to accept is that our definition is not the same as someone elses and that we can’t compare one to the other.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair April 6, 2011, 11:10 am

    The comments on this post are awesome.

    I have an office marketing job, but because of my flexible schedule it’s really easy to let work follow me home sometimes. Even though I try not to. I also do freelance writing so on the weeks when I have big deadlines I often feel like I’m working ALL DAY. I’d say the biggest thing that helps me with a “work/life balance” is shutting down my computer and putting my blackberry on the other side of the room!

    I also like taking “me” time first thing in the morning (right now!) to catch up on emails and blogs while I leisurely sip on coffee and eat my oatmeal. It helps me feel ready to take on the day!

  • Brittany April 6, 2011, 11:11 am

    Great post Caitlin. It’s been really hard for me to balance everything I have going on right now – work, blogging, nutrition school, medical appointments and physical therapy. I recently posted a blog post about how I thought blogging might be making me unhealthy because it takes away from other things (like spending time with loved ones) and it increases the amount of time I’m sedentary.

    I try to do a lot of the same things you recommend by saying no when I simply can’t add something to my to-do list and planning a few meal ideas before the week starts.

    I definitely agree though – men don’t stress nearly as much have having balance. We women are crazy. 🙂

  • Tami April 6, 2011, 11:13 am

    no one EVER is in a good place to have childs, never enough money, never a big enough house, the right car…etc etc

    two kids later and we are so happy with all the decisions we have made

  • Jen April 6, 2011, 11:15 am

    Great post!! I always felt guilty when I was working that if I could stay home with the kids then everything would be perfect. 3 years later, I realize perfection doesn’t exist and i’m convinced a perfect balance doesn’t exist either.

  • Molly April 6, 2011, 11:15 am

    I’m only 19, but when I look at the life my mother had….well, let’s just say, I feel so lucky to have the level of balance I do have.

    My mom ran away from home when she was 15 (her dad had PTSD after tours abroad in the army). She received a full college scholarship and a great deal of scholarship money to law school. During law school, she talks about finding $5 on the street and starting to sob, because she hadn’t had money for food.

    After law school, she married my dad (who came from a wealthy family). My parents started their own law firm and had 3 children. She left home at 6 a.m., got back home at 7 p.m., and somehow manageed to spend time with her kids AND do chores.

    The way I look at it, EVERYONE’s life is hard. Seriously. NO ONE thinks their life is totally easy. My attitude is just face everything that comes and do what I have to. I don’t at all think you’re complaining or anything- I think you’re totally right that everyone has those struggles!

    Honestly, no one ever feels completely prepared for a baby, and if they do, they’ll quickly realize that they actually weren’t. Obviously, being responsible about when you choose to have a baby is still important, but if you want one, you’ll have one. You’re still very young, and things can change so much in a year!

    • Molly April 6, 2011, 11:18 am

      Oh, and for her first 10 years of motherhood, she was a master’s swimmer. I have no idea.

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) April 6, 2011, 11:21 am

    I’m sorry you feel this way, and I’m not sure I could help because I’m in the thick of it right now. My days consist of early gym time, drive to work, work, drive home, and dissertation until bed. I even did this on the weekend, which drove me insane. The only reason I haven’t disappeared from blogging is because I did the write-a-bunch-of-posts at once thing and catch up on blogs while I’m multi-tasking other stuff (I know you didn’t recommend that).

    I think we all have our challenges, and it’s hard to feel ready for anything sometimes because we naturally don’t like to change. I’m sure you do have the resources for a kid right now, but you just don’t know it yet. Just like I never thought I could afford (very expensive) grad school, but it’s been fine.

    As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

  • sarah (sarah learns) April 6, 2011, 11:28 am

    it’s really hard to find a life/work balance as a graduate student. there is a lot of pressure on us all the time (and not only self-induced pressure) to be as productive as humanly possible. i set firm hours for my school/lab work every day and only one day per weekend unless it’s absolutely necessary. i also make sure to meal plan and cook – cooking is some of my “me-time” and it really helps me feel grounded and calm when i have time to put together a meal.

  • Carpensm @ A Life Without Ice Cream April 6, 2011, 11:30 am

    This was a great post to read. 1) because there were a lot of good ideas … 2) because its helpful to know that other struggle with this as well.

    Last week things were getting out of control for me and I actually thought about abandoning my blog… but then realized that it IS one of the things I do for me!

    I agree that 50/50 just isn’t possible… especially when you consider most ppl work 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week and sleep 7-8 hours a night… unless you’re counting sleep as balance time its just not happening.

    I feel like I have balance as long as I have time to do the things I want to do and not feel rushed all the time. As long as I have time to sit and take a little me time.

    Little tricks I use are getting up early to get the daily stuff out of the way so I don’t have to do it later and making myself sit and watch a little TV at night… even just for 45min or an hour its time for me to decompress before bed.

  • steph April 6, 2011, 11:33 am

    to me, a work life balance isn’t about the time you dedicate to one or the other, it’s about how balanced you feel about the two, and what impact your behaviour has on those around you. If I’m constantly mentally and physically exhausted from work, and finding it tiring and stressful, then I know I need to rein it in and focus on the fun stuff, however if I’m just coasting through my work day and spending it thinking about and planning my evening, then things still aren’t in balance. As well as me, there’s the element of those around me, if my partner says he feels like he’s barely seen me, or I’ve had to keep cancelling on friends, even if I’m enjoying work, then I might need to shift things a little for the good of my relationships. This way it’s not about guilt, or doing it all, it’s about keeping the balance between all the things I do, and making sure it’s keeping me and my loved ones (mostly) happy. That said, there are always stressful and busy periods, sometimes you just have to ride them out.

  • gabriella @ embracement April 6, 2011, 11:41 am

    I don’t think there is a 50/50 balance, but I do think that if you feel your life is 100% work and 0% fun, that’s not healthy. Personally, I like doing a lot of different things (student, intern, girlfriend, roommate, friend, daughter, etc) because if I’m stressed in one aspect instead of dwelling on it I can accomplish something else such as doing my homework or going for a run. Having a lot to do personally makes me happy, but for others that kind of lifestyle might make them feel completely unbalanced. So I agree that I think it is a myth in one way and also just one of those things that there is no magically cure for or a “right” way to handle.

  • Sarah @ The Strength of Faith April 6, 2011, 11:42 am

    I think it’s really interesting that you brought up the fact that this could be a woman’s issue. When men work a lot no one questions whether or not they have balance in their life. They just say, “Well you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

    Here are my thoughts. I just started my position as the pastor of a church and I’ve been warned over and over again about self-care not burning out. Honestly, every time someone warns me I get annoyed. I think keeping yourself from burning out doesn’t require cutting back on work – I think it requires common sense. Doing something like getting a cleaning service is common sense.

    Having my husband push off his job search and living with my income for the time being so he can get the house set up and help me with my transition into the church (and cook, clean, shop) right now is common sense. Having a water bottle at my desk is common sense. Having desk lamps on, turning my fluorescent lights off and lighting a good smelling candle to create a peaceful environment in my office is common sense. Giving myself permission to not be as good as I usually am about staying in touch with friends for right now is common sense.

    I don’t think it takes a village to keep yourself healthy. And I don’t think it takes a 50/50 work/life balance either. I think you just need to take a deep breath and try to make the best decisions you can.

  • Mary (what's cookin' with mary) April 6, 2011, 11:44 am

    It’s SUPER hard for me to be balanced. I often feel like if I’m not moving at 100mph (metaphorically, obv), that I could be working harder, faster and/or smarter. This does bite me in the @ss at times. I feel exhausted at the end of the day, I have no energy to do stuff w. B after a long day, I don’t sleep well bc I have a million things I’m thinking about… SO, it def takes a lot of effort (or an injury heh) to slow me down. But, I find that when I try to have a bit of ‘balance’ I feel less stress, pressure etc & it’s wonderful. It’s not easy for me to be balanced?! At least I’m not the only one!!

  • Keri April 6, 2011, 11:45 am

    I don’t think work/life balance is a myth, per se, but the idea that it has to be 50/50 might be. You have to make time for yourself sometimes – and, to second a few other comments, taking extra time during slower work weeks to enjoy your family/exercise more/have fun is probably the best way to do that.

    As long as your work is rewarding to you, you can think of it as something that’s also enriching you personally – it’s not 100% “work” if you have fun sometimes, and we really do all need to feel like we have a vocation in life. So even if work takes up >50% of your time or energy, if it’s partially fun too, it’s not completely taking away from your “me” time.

    Of course, this is all coming from a nerdy science graduate student…I would do the work I’m doing right now even if they didn’t pay me! Maybe having fun at work is the secret to this mythical “balance” thing?

  • Amanda April 6, 2011, 11:46 am

    I agree with what a lot of other people have said about the concept of “balance”. I think each person’s balance is different, and I doubt that many people have a 50/50 balance. In an ideal world, you are passionate about your job so that it doesn’t feel like such an energy drain! As far as non-work things, I make sure that I set myself up for success. On weekends, I meal plan and grocery shop for the week, do laundry, clean up, paint my nails, fit in 2 good workouts, sleep in, and schedule some fun time so that my weeks are a lot less stressful (i.e., clean house and clothes, healthy food in the house). My boyfriend sometimes thinks I’m a little crazy, but I try to plan ahead so that I can be successful at balancing it all out.

  • Lindsey April 6, 2011, 11:48 am

    I don’t think that the 50/50 balance it realistic in most people’s lives these days and for each person their balance will be different. I am not sure what mine even is!
    Like you two of my favorite tips to keep a better balance is morning workouts (way less stress than thnking that after working 8 hours I have to head to the gym, make supper, blog and find time to spend with my husband) and meal planning (no need to think about what to make or worry if I have the ingredients – and it allows me to prep for meals on the weekends when I have the extra time!).

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking April 6, 2011, 11:48 am

    I think a lot of it depends on what your priorities are. You obviously have a lot of high priority items, and work/life balance doesn’t seem to be a huge one, which is fine. I have very low career goals – I don’t want a career long-term. I want to do a good job at work, but I wouldn’t mind quitting and being a full time housewife. My goals are taking care of my husband and home, entertaining others and being hospitable (i.e. serving Christ in a tangible way), volunteering at church, working on my blog….those things are so much more important to me than career development, so I make time for them. Does that make sense?

  • Maja April 6, 2011, 11:49 am

    I guess work/life balance is something everyone decides for themselves what it means. I don’t look at it 50/50. The way I look at it is this: the work side is the activities which you do so you can earn money for your life (although hopefully you enjoy the work), the life part is the rest: the things that may take up your time and keep you busy, but which you choose to do, like running, yoga, healthy eating, coaching girls on the run. You may not have a lot of relaxing down time, but you have lots of things which make you happy in life and which make life worhtwhile. For me not having a work/life balance would mean just working non-stop and never having time for running, the voluntary work or yoga. Of course, it would be great if the day had more hours in order to relax, but for that I think you’ve found some good organizational tricks and tips.

  • Kristina April 6, 2011, 11:52 am

    I really like what you say about the 50/50 balance being a myth. As a teacher, I think that I have more of a balance than most people – but that’s only because of summer break! During the year, I have zero balance. This weekend, for instance, I’m away the entire time from my partner (and dogs) thanks to a Latin Convention which definitely falls under the WORK category.
    I actually love a lot of Ken Robinson’s ideas. He’s a big “thinker” on creativy and education, and he talks about the importance of passion. If people find their passion, they’ll be more fulfilled and creative. They will also usually spend TONS of time on this passion – they won’t worry about finding that ever-elusive balance because their passion will fulfill and sustain them emotionally and intellectually.

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good April 6, 2011, 11:53 am

    In my opinion, including exercise and time for healthy foods does fall in the balanced lifestyle, whereas if work responbilities didn’t leave you time to exercise and cook, that would be out of balance. If someone hates cooking and exercise, then of course it would be more an obligation than time for personal balance. That’s just my opinion on that.

    I also think we can’t expect to find some 50/50 balance all the time, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be miserable. Like you said, it is okay to say no if you don’t have time to take something on. If you hate your job, you can start working on making a change (I know that’s not easy). Etc.

    It’s a tough one, that elusive balance.

  • Michelle April 6, 2011, 11:54 am

    <3 this! BTW cleaning service is a lifesaver! It costs way less than marriage counseling (from fighting over who cleaned what last) and saves you so much time!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:41 pm

      hahah true that.

  • Melissa April 6, 2011, 11:55 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately too. I work at a pretty demanding job, try to exercise as often as possible, take care of my dog, and try to find as much time as possible for my husband/friends/other family. I already feel stretched pretty thin, and we’re having our first baby in October. I have NO IDEA what that’s going to look like, but I’m pretty sure my priorities will drastically change and I’m already getting stressed about how everything will get done! I definitely will be a full time working mom. I started talking with my husband about it last night only to find he is not that stressed at all- he kind of shrugged and said “everything will work itself out.” While I’m sure he’s right, I wish I could be that laid back about it. I am trying to adopt your husband’s attitude of “I’m doing the best I can today.” The best I can changes every day, but so far this mantra seems to be helping.

    All this being said- I knew going into having a baby that there would never be a perfect time. We would never have “enough” time, energy, money where a lightbulb would flip on and let us know that now was the time to start having babies. All we can do is strive toward whatever is “good enough” for us- there is no such thing as perfect.

  • Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep April 6, 2011, 11:56 am

    I think that since you’ve created your work life out of your home life, the balance is hard to find because everything is co-mingled. You can’t take a yoga class (play) to relax without blogging (work) about it, you know?

  • Marissa C April 6, 2011, 11:56 am

    Re: Children

    I think anyone can find endless reasons to wait on having a baby, and honestly, your lack of maternity insurance is probably a good one.

    I think if you don’t make it a priority and set a firm date you want to be pregnant by, other things that seem more important (but may not be) will always take precedence and resources that could/should be used for a pregnancy.

    Don’t forget–you have 9 months til the kiddo actually arrives, too! It’s not like your life stops immediately!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:40 pm

      HECK YES! I will not get (intentionally) preggers without maternity. It kicks in November 1!

      • Shauna April 6, 2011, 4:08 pm

        I feel the same way about getting pregnant. When people say ‘there is no right time for a baby so if you want one you should just go for it’ I cringe. I am ready for it NOW! But my partner and I are both in the last few semesters of grad school (no income) and have no job offers yet. And we have no long term health insurance. It is so hard to keep waiting until one of us gets a job, but how can we possibly make it work with no income or insurance? I think waiting is the first important decision I can make as a parent.

        I hope your wait isn’t too long!

        • Shauna April 6, 2011, 4:10 pm

          Oh, And I love your posts about tough life issues!

  • Heather April 6, 2011, 11:58 am

    I echo your thoughts…basically with my current goals…there really isn’t time for having kids…which is something I want.

    Unfortunately, because I am so busy, spending time with my friends often gets pushed aside….that is where I could use more balance!

  • Parita @ myinnershakti April 6, 2011, 12:01 pm

    This is something I am ok with right now, but I know I’m going to have trouble with it after I get married, have kids, etc. Something they say at work is that, “It’s not about the work/life balance, it’s about the Work/Life CHOICE.” This means that it’s not really about striving for balance as much as it is making choices that reflect what’s important to you. I like thinking about it in those terms because if I just think about balance, I get upset (because it’s so hard to do). Just my 2 cents! Have a FAB day! 🙂

  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad April 6, 2011, 12:02 pm

    So true about women being self-critical. We want it all and deserve to have it all…WITHOUT feeling guilty!

    I also have a cleaning service and it is well worth the money!!!

  • Katie @ peacebeme April 6, 2011, 12:03 pm

    I don’t think it has to be perfectly 50/50 to be considered a work life balance. I think it can be 30/70, or something like that. I think you need to think of your runs, yoga, etc as part of your balance. They are something you make time for for YOU and because you enjoy them, so that counts!
    I think a work-life balance is something possible and something to strive for. Like saving for a house, you might not get it right away, but you will if you keep striving for that!

  • April 6, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Caitlin, I SO agree about the manicures! I think, no matter what you do for living, you’re always looking at your hands and having them pretty makes ya happy! (The act of painting them is a de-stresser on its own too!)

  • Carol April 6, 2011, 12:06 pm

    I have a great balance of work/play. I think it’s because I work hard when I am at work and then I can play all I want. I do not let tasks slide. I do them ASAP and turn them in well before the deadline. I am very organized and love routines:)

    My hubby always jokes with me…by the time I get up you will have worked out, planned three meals a day for the next month and have three loads of laundry done.:) I feel so good when I control the things I can. It makes the unplanned easier to deal with.

    Have a great one!

  • Sarah April 6, 2011, 12:08 pm

    I work A LOT, while I only have one job per say. Its LONG hours and I find “me time” getting shorter and shorter. When I get a day off its usually full of unenjoyable tasks like cleaning ,laundry, errands etc.
    Just getting out and doing ONE thing that makes me happy usually help the week better.

    I have really been trying to work on the balance. ITS HARD WORK!

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow April 6, 2011, 12:11 pm

    One of the greatest things I have learned as a health coach is that balance is FLUID. It’s dynamic, and always changing.

    So many of my clients come in demanding that they need more balance- forever wishing for that perfect 50-50 split. In reality…balance evolves. It looks different today, tomorrow and next year.

    The key is to spread your energy towards the things in your life that you value, as your core self. Then balance becomes more a part of your life.

    Balance is individual and unique to every person! 😉

  • Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen April 6, 2011, 12:12 pm

    I feel like so much of my time is spent at work, even though it’s just a m-f, 8-5 job. I just make sure that my time at home is spent doing things I enjoy: playing with my son, cooking with my husband, etc. I also make sure that my technology use is very limited during the evenings and weekends.
    It’s not perfect, but it’s getting clearer the longer I maintain this way of doing things.

  • Bianca April 6, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I LOVED this post. This is something i have been struggling with a lot recently. I work two jobs, one part-time in an office, and the other as a server in a restaurant. Not only do i work much more then 40 hours a week, but my schedule is all over the place. I work late nights, and early mornings, and most weeks I work seven days a week. I have been doing this for about 8 months, and I am just realizing how destructive this has become to my social life. I used to think it was worth it because it made me able to afford an apartment in NYC, and some amount of financial security, but not I feel as though I have to make a change.

  • Amy April 6, 2011, 12:16 pm

    This is a great post, because I look at you as someone who DOES have a good life/work balance. Obviously, you don’t post your whole life here on the blog, but your posts show us that you as a fun-loving, happy, healthy, caring person who devotes time to the things she loves. Don’t be so hard on yourself about balancing it out 50/50–I don’t think that’s realistic in anyone’s life. Listen, there’s going to be bad days, stressful days, nights when you lay awake thinking about work things or life things. And that’s ok. That’s normal and natural.

    For me, the life/work balance comes into focus when I am feeling happy, healthy, and productive in all aspects of my life. Did I have a productive, hard working day today? A great run? A good night’s sleep? Quality time with my husband? Then yes, I have a life/work balance–even if it means I was at the office an hour later than normal or my run didn’t go as great as planned. If I can go to bed every day feeling satisfied, then I think my life/work balance is in check. 🙂

    Fabulous post and the comments are awesome, as per usual.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:37 pm

      Thank you Amy 🙂

  • Rebecca April 6, 2011, 12:17 pm

    I don’t agree that balance is “a concept made up by women’s magazines.”

    Rather, I think that the idea that we should spend our lives working is a concept made up by Capitalist people who want to keep the working class working.

    Working 50+ hour weeks is not natural. The idea that we should even have to THINK about finding balance shows that something is wrong with the system.

    • Elyse April 6, 2011, 12:22 pm

      I agree with you. If you look “back in the day” people weren’t so obsessed with material things but with relaxing and enjoying life 🙂

    • Elizabeth April 7, 2011, 12:29 pm

      This is SUCH A GOOD POINT. It has been pointed out by all the news headlines I am reading/hearing about the economy. We base our opinions of where our country is “going” and…who we are as Americans by economic indicators such as new jobs and amount spent and new home construction. But what are these new jobs and things purchased and new homes?! Creation of MORE STUFF. Stuff, stuff, stuff. What are we working and living FOR? Hopefully not just stuff.

  • Elyse April 6, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I’ve just found my work/life balance and am settling into it. I was working 45-50 hours a week before but I am starting a new position at a bank for 22-24 hours a week. I am making the same pay as when I worked double the time too!!! Working 3-4 days and having a 3-4 day “weekend” (mine is usually mid-week) is absolutely amazing!

    I understand where you are coming from on the manicures 🙂 Customers see my hands all of the time and I want them to look nice! But it seems like you are paying a VERY high price. I live in Southern California (everything is 2-3 times more expensive here) and a manicure is $13 and polish change is $7. I can get a deluxe spa Mani/pedi for $29. Also, we have house cleaners clean our house (4 bedroom +loft 3000 square feet (about) and it’s $70. You might want to look into something a bit cheaper to save your dinero 🙂

    • Charise April 6, 2011, 2:03 pm

      It depends on the market where you live – by me, at any number of places, JUST a mani OR a pedi is $25-45; getting both runs you $50+. And several friends with 1000-1800 sq ft places pay $70+ for housecleaning.

      • Elyse April 6, 2011, 3:14 pm

        Ouch!! Southern California is one of the most expensive places to live but it sounds like you guys have it worse on some things!

  • Laughter-Loving Stacy April 6, 2011, 12:22 pm

    For me I really don’t see the life/work balance as 50/50. I agree with you that the 50/50 is another way for women to be extremely critical about themselves. I believe the balance is about finding a way of life where a person feels happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Maybe work is 80 and life is 20. 75/25. Whatever. Hopefully the lucky people that have jobs or careers they LOVE will be included in the ‘life’ balance as well. To me it’s pretty much that: do what you’re passionate about, stay healthy (workout, eat well), and that seems to be a great balance right there!

    I think it’s once people are excessive (such as *never* having time to see friends or go out to dinner or anything fun) is a bit crazy. Everyone needs some other type of fun in their life. 🙂 🙂

  • tina April 6, 2011, 12:23 pm

    Ha! I just went to a panel discussion in which women in my field talked about that illusive concept of work-life balance. Here’s what I learned and what I’ve experienced:

    It’s not a balance. It’s more like a constant dance. Finding balance isn’t a time thing, it’s about being able to prioritize and reprioritize as your life shifts.

    Perfect example: my partner and I are pregnant. He works nights. I work days with a fair amount of nighttime and weekend commitments. Being good parents is going to require us to negotiate–a lot. There are some nighttime commitments that I’ll have to decline or bring my son to. And that’s okay.

    My approach is to set specific off-limits time when I am solely focused on my family, whether that will be bath, reading and bedtime with my son or date night with my partner. In exchange, when I’m at work, my attention is at work. And the only exceptions (to interrupting sacred family time or work time) is an emergency (sick kid, office burning down, etc.).

    I think my biggest challenge will be fitting in my me time and committing to exercise when I have all these other balls in the air demanding my attention.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:33 pm

      Congrats on your pregnancy!

  • Amber K April 6, 2011, 12:23 pm

    I totally agree that a work/life balance is a myth. We as women are always thinking we aren’t doing enough, even if we are killing ourselves every day. I think you have a very healthy grasp on it!

  • Samantha @ Mama Notes April 6, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I don’t know how you do it! You blog a lot- but the post are short , they are often long and full of lots of words and pictures!! Tht must take you time- you have a lot you’re doing and I think you’re doing a great job!

  • francesca @ oral hcg April 6, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Hey Caitlin, I believe we are already balancing it even if we are working. You for example can get “destressed” if you work for Operation Beautiful because it is such a nice program to empower women. 😉 Anyway, what you have shared on how you destress are all cool. 🙂 In my case, I always get a point that I watch a movie so that I can let go some of th stress, or I do yoga. 😉

  • Katy @ A Healthy Shot April 6, 2011, 12:35 pm

    I can totally relate Caitlin! I juggle work and blogging with being a full time grad student and striving to live a healthy life. Most of the time, I’m not sure where one part ends and the next begins, but I save my sanity by reminding myself that it’s all part of the plan to reach my goals.

    I’m not sure if it’s a gender thing- it could be. For me, I think it’s a matter of wanting a lot out of life and realizing that it’s going to take a lot hard work! I’ve really been trying to make more of an effort to ‘power down’ when I’m with my boyfriend/friends/family, so that I can enjoy that time.

  • Clare @ Fitting It All In April 6, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I absolutely love that while you are trying to save live frugally, you’re realizing that things like a cleaning serving and a manicure will actually make you less stressed out. Sometimes you have to spend money on certain things to keep sane!
    People think I’m crazy when I say I’m busy because I have to blog, but I really do consider it a part time job. I enjoy it, but it’s work.

  • Michelle@crazyrunninglegs April 6, 2011, 12:37 pm

    Balance is ever changing in my life, but I think it can be done. I’ve learned that going with the flow is the easiest way to cope, and of course, drinking lots of wine (kidding. kinda).

    I’m a mom two young kids, with a full-time job, and a husband who works full-time and goes to school part time. It looks worse written down! I think the key is knowing your limits, knowing when to ask for help, finding time to spend with your spouse and friends, waking up early to workout/run, and putting the kids to bed early (seriously – this is how I get “me” time).

    Sometimes I have had to work 60 hour weeks, but most of the time my work is flexible. It sucks, but it’s part of the balance. I enjoy my paycheck 🙂 I do have a few rules – one is no working from home when the kids are awake (I prefer going into my office anyways), no major travel (one or two small trips a month is the max I could do), and my family is my priority. I’ve learned how to say no. It’s uncomfortable at times, and I carry around all kinds of guilt — but mom guilt is worse.

    My life is far from perfect, but I’m happy, I’m healthy, I feel like I am someone that I want my kids to emmulate. This can all change in a week, month, year (especially if we have a 3rd!), but I know that I’ll figure it out when the time comes (and you will too!).

  • Gina April 6, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I used to struggle with the balance as I was required to work overtime. However, I have found that I am a much happier person when I stick to 40 hours/week. I leave my office at 5pm pretty much everyday. My evenings are typically filled with yoga or another workout, cooking dinner and lunch prep and about an hour relaxing in front of the tv or with a book. I am slowly moving workouts and yoga to early morning so I have more time to prepare a more elaborate dinner, meet friends after work and spend more quality time with the boyfriend. During the workday (when it’s not raining in Seattle!) I walk my lunch down to a lakeside park and wander around the neighborhood afterward. This breaks up my day and I can come back to my desk more energized and work more efficiently. Great post!!!

  • pam April 6, 2011, 12:46 pm

    I think that 50/50 balance is crap…I think it is up to each individual to do what is right for them. If something doesn’t get done, oh well, there is always tomorrow…life is too short to worry and obsess over the small things. So the dusting doesn’t get done today..does anyone even care? So I have to work more today or this weekend..I quit stressing over all that stuff awhile ago. I try to enjoy every moment that I can.

  • Christine April 6, 2011, 12:47 pm

    I know what you mean about the urge to procreate! I want a kid but it just isn’t feasible right now, and I feel that at 27 I really should be developing a timeline… I really don’t think a 50/50 ratio is practical in this day and age. It sucks, but it order to stay ahead professionally and financially it just isn’t realistics.

  • Heidi April 6, 2011, 1:00 pm

    such an awesome post and it’s true – women are creatures of being overly self critical and striving for perfection. You’re right that sometimes it’s okay to not be perfect and to take a time out. I am struggling with the whole work/personal balance thing – especially since hubs is starting a new job. No matter what unless we’ve got other stuff going on hubs and i always try to eat breakfast an dinner together. Also, I try as hard as I can to not work from home. I keep it all in the office. 🙂

    Thanks for posting this! It’s always nice to know we all struggle with a perfect life balance 😉

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) April 6, 2011, 1:09 pm

    I can’t believe all you do – you’re so inspiring!

    However, I’ve never thought the work/life balance only applies to women AT ALL. At the big insurance company I work for part time, we get preached to have a work life balance as employees. In fact, my husband works here too (full time) and his boss tells him time and time again to develop a better work/life balance (he’s very passionate about his work.)

  • Courtney April 6, 2011, 1:16 pm

    This TED video on work/life balance has a lot of great thoughts on this.

    I love his concept of widening the time frame of balance. Not every day has to be in balance, but over the course of weeks/months it should balance.

    Enjoy the video!

  • beth April 6, 2011, 1:21 pm

    My organization offers a work/life balance reimbursement of 600$ per year to engage in healthy, stress reducing acticities. For example I can use it for my annual ski pass or for race fees, new running shoes, etc. It helps that the company motivates you to do things you enjoy. In addition to that, I schedule lunch dates with friends 2x a month to maximize my friend time. I had to give up volunteering, so I donate to charity instead…there areways to contribute even when you don’t have the time.

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:32 pm

      That is awesome… I love that your company does that!

    • Melissa April 6, 2011, 3:57 pm

      What a great company benefit!

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances April 6, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Great post with so many amazing points! 🙂 in a way, it’s such a blessing that you are so overwhelmed with work because you love what you do and have such a passion for it! However, I know that comes at a high price — it seems like you manage everything beautifully, though!

    I don’t know if the “work/life balance” concept is real, but I hope it does exist somewhere out there. You’ve mentioned the book 168 Hours on the blog before and (I know you probably don’t have time to read) you should really pick it up! I’ve been reading it and it actually has some interesting points about how we use our time. It’s helped me view my workweek in a new light! xoxo thank you for being so incredible!

  • kristinp April 6, 2011, 1:26 pm

    It’s funny, when I first read this post my immediate reaction was to write in and let you know that no one ever said a work life balance was supposed to be 50/50 and that a balance was more about quality than quantity etc.

    Then I thought about it some more.

    Then I realized that I am THE LAST person that should be talking to anyone about a work/life balance because I do not now, nor have I ever had anything close to a work/life balance – quantity OR quality. This is the first time in my life I have less than 3 jobs and that’s because I’m studying for the bar.

    Sheesh! Thanks for making me take a moment to really think about the things I need to be working on 🙂

  • Grace April 6, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I see many of my friends and even my fiancé before he quit his last job struggling with balance, but I’ve never really had that issue. My parents instilled a “get your sh*t done but have fun” mentality in me. They own their own business so my mom was able to stay home whenever she felt it was necessary. My dad worked 6 days a week, but he was always home for dinner at 6 and never missed a soccer game or recital. I feel grateful to have a job that I (usually) enjoy that doesn’t consume my life. At 5 I can leave it all behind and focus on me time.

  • leeann April 6, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Between working 2 jobs (one of them starting my own Chiropractic practice), having a competitive cyclist husband with a full time job, a high energy dog and training for races and my first marathon-life always seems like it is going in 20 directions. The way I stay sane is my Google-calender and making sure that I keep everything scheduled so I don’t end up overlapping things! I cook and pack lunches and bake and blog and just love the life I live 🙂

  • Beth @AttemptBalance April 6, 2011, 1:42 pm

    I Am in the same situation, no kids yet, but lots of activities both work and personnal. For me I have started to think about the work life balance as “the sweet spot” better defined as a mood not a state of being. Sometimes life gets crazy or things in one area will take more time, bit I try to look at it as an overall state of happiness.

    Thanks for the tips, especially about prepping food in The morning. Great post and I love your blog!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:28 pm

      Thank you Beth!

  • Amanda April 6, 2011, 1:46 pm

    well there is no question you have a lot of hats…but I guess for me at the end of the day the most important things is: are you happy? I don’t think life was given to us so that we had all sorts of time to sit on our bottoms and chill. If at the end of the day you feel overwhelmed with all the work responsibilities or the exercising goals or whatever then something needs to be adjusted. However if at the end of the day you think “WOW that was a jam packed day that has left me feeling exhausted – but wow each part of it was fun in its own way or enlightening in its own way or had ____ benefit to me” then keep on keeping on! We are here to live, love and as I say be busy! There is a time in life (hopefully for me when I am 85) when my body will not allow me to do as much until then – each day is exhausting but filled with love 🙂

    • Charise April 6, 2011, 1:54 pm

      I love your outlook!

  • DefineDiana April 6, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I loved this post. I totally know how you feel. Right now I am in a place where I am doing things out of neccesity instead of really persuing my passion (um, working two jobs that I am underpaid and and don’t really enjoy). Then I stress about all the things that still need to happen at home. In fact, I spend my lunch break doing the dishes! I just look at it this way; my fiance and I are sacrificing things right now to work towards bigger goals in the future. At some point, this will all be worth it.

  • Charise April 6, 2011, 1:51 pm

    In one of my grad school classes, we had to pick a single word that was our life’s mission statement – mine was balance. 🙂 It’s not mythical. 😉 I don’t think work-life balance means 50/50 – it means what works for you so that you get adequate time in all your “hat” areas without feeling overly stressed, and I think of the life part as many subparts – it means mental, emotional, physical, social, personal, professional, intellectual. Sometimes, you DO have to make choices if keeping balance is a top priority, which it really is for me. I stay in a somewhat rewarding, not-too-stressful job because it allows me to balance my other hats of wife, friend, grad student, sometime-blogger, volunteer, healthy meal planner, etc., in a way I find more satisfying than I would if I had a high-power career but no time/energy for those other things. We keep the house picked up daily but don’t do a big deep clean nearly as often as we should. I skip more workouts than I should in favor of chill me-time on the couch. I sometimes leave social outings early to get enough sleep. But I CHOOSE to do or not do things to help me keep my balance, and since I know that it was an intentional decision, I rarely stress about it. Being organized, prioritizing, and planning ahead in all the hat areas definitely helps.

    I have friends who work day jobs + build dream careers/businesses on the side, and it obviously is more difficult to find that balance in those cases. It comes down to taking stock of where that balance is at and prioritizing on any given day to work toward it, and remembering you CHOSE whatever option. Sometimes I think just the IDEA of having to find that balance is part of what’s stressful. You’ll get there! 🙂

  • Shannon April 6, 2011, 1:55 pm

    My boss and I were talking about this recently – she said she was talking to her mom and her mom didn’t understand why women today are so stressed out and have trouble with their priorities…We decided that it’s because priorities have changes. My boss’s mom worked when she was growing up (she’s in her mid-forties) and the priorities for working women were work, house, dinner, husband, kids, leisure (which would be exercise, healthy living, socializing).

    Our priorities have changed (I think for the better) and this generation values relationship and health over work and housework…but as women, we often end up not saying no and feeling obliged to do everything that comes our way – both at work and at home. I am so grateful that my current boss and my previous boss both valued happy employees and have allowed me the flexible time I’ve needed to first recover from an injury on my time line and, now, put my family ahead of my work when necessary. It can obviously be more difficult to do that when you’re self-employed, but having an employed that encourages a healthy work-life balance is certainly a big help!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:26 pm

      Your boss sounds #awesomesauce

      • Shannon April 6, 2011, 2:34 pm

        My boss is great – I feel very fortunate to be working for her…I ended up working for her under some not so pleasant circumstances and had no idea what to expect. My previous boss was so great, I figured that there couldn’t possibly be two such amazing bosses out there (and in the same organization) and I would had some major adjusting to do…but I’ve been pleasantly surprised!

  • Leah @ L4L April 6, 2011, 2:16 pm

    I think I have a pretty great work/life balance – I love my job and never take work home with me and never think about it when at home… except when I am strategizing about how to approach the subject of getting a raise from my boss. I do feel highly underpaid and I guess in that regard, the financial strain effects other areas of my life but not the work itself. It helps that I also don’t see blogging as “work” and it is just a hobby. Bloggers that say checking their email, approving comments, writing posts, preparing meals, etc as “work” are obviously going to have a harder time turning it off but that’s a personal decision they have made. And I have obviously elected to not have my blog play that large of a role in my life.

  • Meredith April 6, 2011, 2:18 pm

    I strive for an 8/8/8 breakdown: 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours personal time. My “personal” time consists of anything I have to do or want to do that doesn’t involve work or sleeping (i.e. running/biking/swimming/chores/grocery shopping/cooking/dog walking/errands/reading). We don’t have kids yet, so this model probably won’t work when they come along. But for now it works pretty well!

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 2:26 pm

      Um, I love the 8/8/8 concept.

      • Elisabeth April 6, 2011, 3:05 pm

        Love this, too! I never thought of it that way 🙂

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations April 6, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I think work/life balance has to be defined individually. It’s not about splitting your non-sleeping time into percentages and devoting some to work, some to family, some to self, etc. It’s more about finding some time each week for everything and doing what feels comfortable. If working more than 40 hours per week brings you joy, then do it. But if it starts to make you feel like you’re neglecting other parts of your life, then you should really put a 50 hour limit on work. I think we just have to constantly assess whether we feel at peace with how we’re spending our time… balancing professional and personal responsibilities, including self time. It’s not a goal to achieve; it’s an on-going process.

  • Carrie April 6, 2011, 2:25 pm

    Maybe instead of thinking that we should have a 50/50 balance between work and play, we should hope that at least 50% of our work is enjoyable? I work in a high-stress job environment with crazy hours, but I also love what I do (and I realize how lucky I am to be able to say that). I think that a 75/25 proportion is more realistic (hoping that at a portion of that 75 is good!).
    I do think that our society places a tremendous amount of “kudos” of working insane hours – the same hours that we fought against being subjected to not 100 years ago. It is also very difficult to find balance between all of the parts of our lives which feel like play (yoga class vs. hanging out with family).
    Best of luck to everyone!

  • Christine April 6, 2011, 2:28 pm

    After reading the comments I think the common theme is that you have to really take the time to think about what you WANT and what you are working for. Sometimes I feel like I would be happy taking a pay cut and working less hours but then when I really think about it I realize that I really am happy and LIKE having the flexibility to pay for yoga, manicures, JCrew, etc. That might sound a little shallow but if I’m being really honest with myself it makes the work/life balance make sense a little more …

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 6, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I think we women are TOO critical of ourselves. I say we just live it up, bang out the responisbilities, sweat daily, and laugh lots. I try not to take myself (or my to-do) list too seriously. I also think that complaining about responsibilities or to-dos make it seem that much harder and stressful!!

  • Colleen April 6, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Great post! I am a graduate student really feeling the lack of work/life balance. I’m taking 19 credits, working 2 jobs, and exercise and healthy eating are also non-negotiables for me. Knowing that there is an end in sight keeps me going! I’m working hard now so it will pay off later. Another great tip is to enjoy whatever you are doing at the time. You are there for a reason. Life is too short to be wishing you were somewhere else, doing something different.

    • Jen April 6, 2011, 2:46 pm

      I’m in a similar situation; grad school, two part-time jobs… it’s rough, but at least the semester ends eventually!

  • Clarissa April 6, 2011, 2:44 pm

    There was no work/life balance when I worked at an investment bank. Working for 16 hours a day 6-7 days a week? That was crazy. But I worked really hard for two years so I could have the cushy highpaying job I have now and I have to say it was worth it. That said, I will not be working any office job in 5-6 years when I want to have kiddos!

  • Jen April 6, 2011, 2:45 pm

    50/50 is not possible for me right now. I’m in an intensive Masters program and then I’m going to enter a year-long teaching certification program, which includes 20 hours of student teaching every week. School has to be my priority for the next two years or so, and while I enjoy my studies a lot, it is high-pressure and I get stressed. Eating well has become a problem because between work and school, I’m on campus for about 12 hours for 5 days of the week, and then I have about 6 hours of reading to do when I get home, so it’s hard to find time to buy groceries and cook. I’ve relied too much on take-out, so I’ve started really stressing out about not getting proper nutrients and spending too much money, which has resulted in some bad eating habits and a lot of guilt. So this is something I know I need to work on more.

    I find little things that help ease the pressure, though; I run and exercise when I can (fortunately, I work in my university’s athletic complex as a mentor to freshman student athletes, so it’s really easy for me to squeeze in a workout before my classes in the afternoon), I paint and draw almost every day, and my boyfriend and I have each other for emotional support; he’s getting his PhD, so we definitely both understand the stresses of grad school.

  • Heather April 6, 2011, 2:47 pm

    Oh my gosh, I wish I could better figure out the work/life balance. I work at least 6 days a week, and have a bad habit of logging back into work in the evenings when I get home. I rarely take lunch, and just eat at my desk, but have no idea how to make myself change. I’m a supervisor at my job, and feel like I “should” be working that much,even though my boss, the COO of the company, tells me I work too much,lol. At home I never stop either, cleaning ,cooking, running kids somewhere, and on and on…..One of these days I’ll figure out how to RELAX and have that balance!!!

  • Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl April 6, 2011, 2:57 pm

    “The truth is that you have to work hard to get what you want.”

    Such simple advice – yet so true. I am trying to shoot for all of the things I want right now and you’re totally right that sometimes it requires sacrifice.

    OH and also, just hired a cleaning service for the first time. SO EXCITED. I haven’t posted pics of my apt yet because I’m too embarrassed 🙁

  • Carrie April 6, 2011, 2:58 pm

    Love this post. I definitely need help right now in finding a balance. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Ashley April 6, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Great post — such an important topic!

    One thing I wanted to add is that once you have a baby, your priorities will change…dramatically! I don’t know if anyone ever feels completely ready to have one, but you figure it out as you go once they arrive. And when they do, things that once seemed so important are really put in perspective. My little one (3.5 mos) just discovered her feet and is constantly giggling as she makes them move. Imagine! Something we as runners take for granted, she is discovering for the first time… When you become a part of something so sweet and magic like that, you realize that many of the other ‘things’ you used to try to fit into your schedule can wait. So when you feel ready-ish…go for it!! It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.

    • Jodi April 6, 2011, 3:45 pm

      I totally agree Ashley! I worked a crazy all-consuming corporate job (in Human Resources) before my first baby was born and I had no idea how life would change once my baby entered the world (3 and 1/2 years ago.) Well, now my job is raising my 2 little ones and I am also in the process of starting my own small business and I couldn’t be happier. Things really do fall into place once the baby arrives. It took a little while for me to find balance, but I am more balanced now then I ever was before having a baby. My husband and I were a little worried how we could make things work without my income, but it has worked out tremendously and we are both surprised how everything has come together. You get a lot more creative about how to fit in “alone” time together, and how to manage everything and your little one too. It is so rewarding and an amazing adventure.
      I just want you to know that it is possible to have it all…it really is 🙂

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) April 6, 2011, 3:24 pm

    I truly believe that there is no life/work balance: my work is my life. and I mean that in the least workaholic way possible. I am lucky that everything I’m doing in my life is my choice, so I love and am dedicated to it all. If I am feeling stressed, I make sure I do yoga or go for a run, but I do that every day, anyway! Just focusing on being thankful for my life helps balance out anything that feels like “work”

  • elaine! April 6, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Cleaning services — that is the best tip EVER. A long time ago, I would have felt guilty about not doing it myself, but it is worth. every. single. penny.

  • Aimee April 6, 2011, 3:35 pm

    This is a great post Caitlin. I have read every comment too. There just are not enough hours in the day(otherwise I would write so much more on this topic!!)! Over the past year I did learn one crucial lesson, sacrificing a little time for myself to run, get a mani/pedi, etc., is equally as important for my son and husband as it is for me.

  • sarah April 6, 2011, 3:35 pm

    one thing that i fear a lot is as i get older having to deal with the so-called work-life balance and maybe it doesn’t have to exist. I do agree with the double standard! As a woman in a workplace that is 4% female I see how different many things are for the men vs women in terms of a “balance.” It’s like something women are expected to do and who cares whether a man is up before work to prep the kids for the day and worry about making dinner.
    I hope my relationship with significant other will alleviate those issues. I intend to sculpt my relationship to not make me feel stressed about it all.

  • Lauren April 6, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Such a great post! I’m still in college, but I’m always trying to find a balance between classes, my internship, and half marathon training/social life. It’s hard, but I always have to be flexible. If I have an extra few hours, I fit in my run & shower, so I’m not stressed about it when I’m trying to study for an exam later.

  • Miranda @ working mom works out April 6, 2011, 3:46 pm

    For the first 2 years of my son’s life, I was a stay-at-home mom. My whole life was being a mom. I didn’t have time for friends. My marriage suffered. I had no career. I never did anything for myself. Then I got a divorce and i went back to work. That was in 2008. Since then I’ve become a regular exerciser. I love to cook. I make wine. I read. I have a blog. I spend time with my son. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband.

    No one would have ever asked me then, as a stay-at-home mom, if I had a balance. But the truth is it was the most unbalanced 2 years of my life. I hated staying at home.

    I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with my life now. It’s jam packed filled with a billion things. And I’m sure some people would say it’s too full. But now I *feel* balanced.

    Balance is relative

    • Caitlin April 6, 2011, 3:54 pm

      Oh, awesome comment Miranda. Thank you for sharing this perspective!

    • Heather April 6, 2011, 6:57 pm

      Thank you so much for posting this comment! My husband and I had our first baby in November and I decided to be a stay at home mom. Truth is, I hate it. I love getting to spend so much time with my daughter and I love that I am raising her the way we want her to be raised… but I hate my life right now. I never get out, I do not have time for friends, I do not do anything for myself, and my marriage is also suffering because I get so frustrated being alone all day that I just unload on poor Husband when he gets home. Everyday. Not a good situation, and I can honestly say that my life is more unbalanced now than it ever has been. I was beginning to feel like I was just a terrible mom, so it makes me feel a little better knowing that other moms feel this way as well.. I guess I was just not cut out for the whole stay-at-home thing.

      I am so happy to hear that you are loving your life now! 🙂

      • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out April 6, 2011, 7:46 pm

        You’re welcome, Heather. Staying home is not for everyone. Don’t feel guilty. Motherhood is hard enough.

    • Aimee April 7, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Amen Miranda! I hate that as a mom we have to feel badly about wanting to have a career or interests outside of the home. I actually work nights as a nurse and stay home with my son during the day. However, I also trained for a half marathon last year, got a pedicure monthly during the warmer months, read books and healthy living blogs, started my own blog, learned to cook great food and bake healthy treats, and visit with friends whenever schedules permit. For me it is the best of both worlds but it requires team work with my husband. My lifestyle is 100% my choice and I love it. Even if I didn’t have to work, I would not quit my job because I really enjoy what I do.

      Even though I feel like I am with my son as much as possible he still gets weepy every now and then when I am in the midst of a three night stretch at work and I have to go to bed as soon as my husband gets home or I get up on a Saturday morning and head straight out for a long run. It tugs at the heart strings, but I remind myself that I am a good mom and if I stay happy and healthy then my family will reap the benefits.

  • Jenny April 6, 2011, 3:57 pm

    I must be a weirdo.
    I heart cleaning.

    • Heather April 6, 2011, 6:59 pm

      I also heart cleaning! 🙂

      • Caitlin April 7, 2011, 9:50 am

        I heart it too actually 😉

  • Michelle (The Runner's Plate) April 6, 2011, 4:14 pm

    Figuring out the right time to have kids is hard, but I have to remember that there won’t ever be a time that is “perfect.” I’m sure I will always worry about money and having enough time to have kids, so right now I am waiting for a time that is “better” than right now.

  • Amanda(modernation) April 6, 2011, 4:15 pm

    I think everyone’s life/work balance is different, it doesn’t have to be 50/50, as long as it isn’t 100/0 either way. I have been miserable at my job the few months, which means I am not giving 100% to my life because I come home cranky or stressed out. So I gave my two-week notice and will begin working from home again. This means I will be able to be close to my pets and fiance even when I am working. It might mean I work longer days or on the weekends, but as long as I am with them, working doesn’t seem so bad. Adjustments need to be made when nessecary to be happy with both work and life. I always say that now is the time to have the work/life balance scewed heavier on the work side so that one day it can go the other way when we have kids.

  • Laura @ Backstage Pass April 6, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Thank you for this post… I agree that finding that “perfect balance” may be a myth, and thinking it’s realistic to obtain that 50 / 50 ratio really stresses me out!
    I love my boyfriend and family / friends, our house and my hobbies. But I also love my career and am motivated by succeeding, and work a LOT of weekends / nights / am basically ‘on call’ 24 / 7. I have been really unhappy lately because I feel like I’m not getting as much accomplished at home (hello, mess) OR work (it’s just so busy). It’s hard to keep up! I think if we change our frame of thinking… it’s ok NOT to have that perfect balance. The scales may tip more heavily on the work side sometimes, or on the home side.

  • Floey April 6, 2011, 5:23 pm

    This is a great post. I’m going to graduate in June and I’m worried about finding my own balance after graduation. I feel like I’ve been non-stop these past 5yrs with school, and moving back home in 2 months, I just hope I don’t go crazy trying to find a job and create my own balance. I’m so used to my schedule being busy and hectic!

  • Maria April 6, 2011, 5:33 pm

    Have you tried shellac manicures (or gel manicures)? They last for about a month and of course are more expensive but they do not require drilling or protect your nails from breaking. Pretty cool esp for trips etc.

    • Caitlin April 7, 2011, 9:57 am

      I want to try shellac! I think I will for my beach vacation

  • Cindy April 6, 2011, 5:35 pm

    I wish I knew how to get a balance. Now that I am back in grad school and am working on my dissertation (supposedly) I have such a hard time figuring out how to balance writing/living/experiencing a new city/dealing with chronic pain/wasting time watching too much television (bad habit). As a result I end up with all or nothing days. Yesterday I worked and read most of the day. Today- I could hardly get out of bed due to the pain. If I could get a handle on the chronic pain, I think I could get a handle on my life.

  • Kris @ Trying to Tri April 6, 2011, 7:31 pm

    Love this post and the comments! Wife, mom to 3, full time employee, and part time marathoner/triathlete here… learning to say “No”, and learning to let go – both key to finding balance. No, my hubby doesn’t do laundry or cook the way I would – but it’s better than me having to do everything! Yes, the cleaning service is a sanity saver. And sometimes, you have to say no to a committee, an event, or even some extra work to balance your own wants. But it’s worth it!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit April 6, 2011, 7:51 pm

    Amazing post. It is funny how the idea of how amazing it is that women can have a professional career and a family is unique to women, and that pressure doesn’t get put on men.

  • Katie April 6, 2011, 8:12 pm

    I really don’t think that the work/life balance idea only possessed by women. I just met the owner of Harley Davidson in one of my classes and he said the day he realized he had succeeded in his career was when he was able to have a work/life balance and control his own schedule. My teacher who is also male commented that this was something he was also concerned about in his career.

  • Renee April 6, 2011, 8:34 pm

    Awesome, Awesome post!! I think different seasons of life require different work/life balance requirements. You are young, healthy and in the midst of an amazing career…all of them 🙂 So don’t stress too much about the balance and enjoy the career success and keep working those crazy hours while you don’t have to balance kiddos too! You will be an even more amazing mother because you will feel so darn good about everything you’ve accomplished when those kiddos enter the picture. Much love!!

  • Emily (Comfortable Home Life) April 6, 2011, 8:54 pm

    I love this post! I work in a super stressful job (child protective services) where the hours are sometimes crazy and I’m frequently put in dangerous situations. It’s pretty much impossible to lay in bed and NOT think about work when your job is to ensure children are safe.

    It’s important for me to be able to take time for myself, and I do often, through blogging, reading blogs (hello, yours!), cooking, running and photography. Some of my co-workers don’t have any outlet to channel their stress, and it definitely leads to burnout.

    I’ve had to adapt a more “man” approach to life/work balance and tell myself that I’m doing the best I can. I 100% agree where you said “maybe the real goal should be to achieve your professional and personal goals without succumbing to stress and being unhappy.”

    I seriously admire your honesty; keep on rocking out with the AWESOME posts!

  • Kathy @ newlywedindc April 6, 2011, 9:15 pm

    I’m not surprised there are so many comments! This is such a hot topic. First, I don’t think work/life can be quantified. I also don’t think it means half work/half pleasure….in many careers that is just not realistic. I work a lot of hours but I do enjoy my work…and I think that goes a long way towards creating a “work/life balance”, or just a sense of happiness and fulfillment. I think over your life and career the amount of work time/you time/family time will vary up and down. I find myself overwhelmed not only by all the things I want to do, but also all the things I need to do, and I think finding a way to prioritize that is any important part of developing balance.

    Finally, I am all about contracting things out; no shame in getting housekeeping or paying a little extra for things that will truly make your life easier. I also agree that it sometimes it’s important to just get things done and not overly stress about whether your work is perfect; that can end up just being a time-waster sometimes.

  • michelle April 6, 2011, 9:28 pm

    I’ve struggled with this but I’ve come to realize that for me, I believe that “balance” actually means living your life’s purpose. It’s a huge shift for me lately. I’m still learning. My purpose in life used to be checking off a to-do list. (cooked dinner, good wife, check, took dog for a walk, good dog owner, check). Then I realized, that’s just not ‘living” to me. I was missing moments, I was missing LIFE by checking off the responsibilities. Now I have a list, and I wear lots of hats, but I’m learning how to arrive in the moment and how to remember to relax. It takes the pressure off me. Perfection is boring and there’s really no such thing. We strive for this ideal that doesn’t exist. May I suggest- Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” Amazing. 🙂

  • Melissa @ TryingToHeal April 6, 2011, 11:31 pm

    Ya know, I think this all depends on what you do for a job. Because my job is something that I absolutely love to do, I never feel like I’m working. Yes, it does take more time on some days than others but when i really think about what i’m doing, it’s what i’d be doing in my free time anyhow! so really, I never work a day in my life!

  • Tracy April 7, 2011, 7:00 am

    I absolutely love this post – you are so insightful and always find a way to write about issues that hit home. You rock!

  • Andreea @ Journey To USA April 7, 2011, 7:18 am

    I’m a huge planner and I believe that writting things down helpls a lot but can be tricky too. You re rushing to get things done, whithout beeing too present.

    As a family, we reach balance by constantly trying to spice things up. My husband invented a game. It’s called : Master Cleaner.

    Like you, we had problems with maintaining a clean house.The rule is: when someone finds a thing that isn’t on it s place,give the other a point. At the end of the week, the person with the most points…Cleans the house All By Himselves.

    Fortunately, nobody did that last ddirty job because we are very competitive and pick up our stuff in time or washed the dishes right away after eating.

  • Andreea @ Journey To USA April 7, 2011, 7:20 am

    Sorry for my grammar errors. I have a lot to learn about your language.

  • Legs April 7, 2011, 10:30 am

    So I’ve been thinking about this work/life balance post a lot the last 2 days and I finally asked my boyfriend how he felt about it. Currently we’re both in our first jobs out of college and we both work for companies 9-5:30/6. We both feel it is very important to have a good work/life balance meaning leave work as soon as possible and enjoy our evenings together, with friends, making fabulous food and working out. There are days that we’ve had to work late or come in early and unfortunately, my boyfriend has had to work a few weekends, but we really try to avoid working overtime. We do however realize that if our work changed things might be different. For instance, my boyfriend may want to start his own company someday and we both fully understand that that means our priorities would shift. I feel like you and your husband have to work more than my boyfriend or I do because you’re creating your own businesses and that’s different than just putting in the required hours at the office. But to address your point that this is a female thing, I don’t think that’s true at all. My boyfriend works for a tech company and due to the environment most of his coworkers are men. His co-workers and him recently had a meeting w/ their manager about their work/life balance because their manager was intruding into their personal lives and most of the men had wives, girlfriends, friends, pets, side projects, hobbies that they all desperately wanted to get home to. So clearly men struggle w/ this too! 😀 Thanks for hosting this discussion!

  • Krista April 7, 2011, 12:15 pm

    A 50/50 balance just stresses me out more. I go to my (8-4) job every day and leave it as soon as I walk out the door. My life “balance” is much busier and frankly, much more important to me than work. My kids are busy little buggers with each playing multiple, high level sports that require travel and time commitments. My day job is a means for me to pay the bills and ensure that the kids have all they need (and more) and are able to enjoy their activities. After all, when they get older I don’t ever want them to have to say that Mom & Dad were too busy with work to be with them, watching them at their tournaments/recitals, enjoying them. Just not gonna happen! 🙂

  • Noelle April 7, 2011, 4:21 pm

    There is never a perfect time to have a baby, as long as you are good financially, it’s a good time. You have about a year to figure it out after you decide before the baby comes and with all the planning that you do during while waiting, it becomes the perfect time and you wonder what took you so long!

  • Jolene ( April 7, 2011, 7:26 pm

    Good for you for hiring a cleaning service!!

  • Tanya @ Vegan Faith April 8, 2011, 8:54 am

    I’m not so sure I buy into the life/work balance either. When I had a job I didn’t like I would complain about not having balance. Now that I am passionate about my work and am doing what I love it seems to me my life is my work and my work is my life. It never feels like work anymore. Not that it is always fun necessarily, but I have little to complain about. I love doing my job! I think there is a perfect job out there for everyone. Where passion aligns with responsibility and you are doing what you love everyday. Then it doesn’t matter if it is 70/30 or 50/50 or whatever. It is all life!

  • Shouldn't be required April 8, 2011, 9:42 am

    It is hysterical that you have people commenting that their life is hectic working 40 hours per week. As you said in your post, their are plenty of people who work 60 or 70 (or more) hours per week, drive 1 (or more) hours each way to go home, have no time to work out or eat right, and try to get 8 hours each night. Seriously?!? They’re the one’s that need to look at their time in a different perspective. They’re the lucky one’s.

  • Val @ Balancing Val April 10, 2011, 8:38 am

    Super late . . . I know.

    But I think that a work life balance is very negotiable. For instance right now I am in school, blog and work full time AND am starting the groundwork for my own business. If I expected my balance to be 50/50 than i wouldn’t really get anything done!

    That ratio changes a lot through life and i think to get what you want, you must work hard if you believe in it.

    One Dave Ramsey quote really hit home and I’m sure you have heard it.

    Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.

    Yes, this quote is related to money but it can be related to life and what you have to sacrifice and work on NOW to get what you want later.

    Im not saying that you shouldn’t relax and have fun too. Ive documented my many breakdowns on this subject! I just think that sometimes the pressure gets to us.

    Your husband is right, just do the best you can and the rest will even out 🙂

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