What does your family’s mix of work, child care, and personal projects look like? (Many of us believe that work/life balance is a myth; so, let’s call it a mix, okay?)
I write about creativity here. Honestly, cobbling together solutions for a family’s needs is its own creative project—perhaps the greatest of all.
The barriers to balance are real. Unresolved socioeconomic and cultural problems impact our ability to meet our needs, let alone our desires. American culture still bases work hours and benefits on a 9-to-5, full-time, in-person institutional model. Yet, school hours require someone to pick up our children mid-afternoon. Day care remains unaffordable for many families.
Our culture never truly found communal solutions to work/life balance. Where is that village? (Insert a wistful look in my eyes.)
I’m going to get political: this is the dark side of an individualist, capitalist culture. Our families and communities are fodder for the machine. Plus, many of our most vulnerable citizens are left in the dust—people of color, people who are low-income, and people with disabilities. If I could sum up our country’s greatest challenges in one word it would be: inequality.
In essence, we can’t talk about work/life balance and creativity without talking about inequality.
The personal remains political:
- If you never quite get to your creative pursuits.
- If your thoughts are always about “should”‘s and your to-do lists.
- If you have to divert money from your creative pursuits toward your family’s basic needs instead.
- If you can’t keep up with all of your responsibilities, let alone your dreams.
- If you think “damn it, why does it have to be so hard?”
- You are not a personal failure; your challenges have a cultural context.
- Please, friend, lighten up on your negative self-talk.
- Be reassured by the fact that you’re not alone.
- Find a little self-compassion for yourself and your challenges. You deserve that, just as much as anyone.
This topic is on my mind today because, after seven years of working part-time, I resume full-time work next week. While I’ve long planned to do this when my daughters reached school age, it’s simultaneously exciting, scary, and sad as it happens. So, I feel re-inspired to create space for this work/life/creativity conversation.
I don’t know about you, but I love to hear how families find their creative mix. Continue reading