25 February 2014

Are You a Juggler, a Balancer or a Navigator of Your Responsibilities?


Squeezing Orangejuice

Back in the 1980s, Redbook billed itself a magazine for “the juggler” — the woman who juggled “marriage, career, family and home.” By 1991, it had changed its tune. The publication launched a new ad campaign that said that it wasn’t for “jugglers” but for squeezers: “women who squeeze the most out of life.” More recently, Redbook changed its language again and now bills itself as a publication for someone who is “balancing family-work-love-time for you.”

These shifts in language raise an interesting question: How do you describe yourself when you’re dealing with a lot of responsibilities in more than one area of life?

Many people speak today about aiming for “work/life balance.” But some experts have reservations about the term. The phrase “work/life balance,” they say, suggests that both of those areas will always have the same importance, or that you can achieve a perfect equilibrium between them. That’s rarely, if ever, true for any of us. We’re continually making adjustments that reflect our changing needs, priorities and responsibilities. And the most carefully orchestrated “balance” may come undone if an emergency occurs at home, at work, or elsewhere, especially if a crisis lasts for weeks or months.

 That’s why some people prefer the term “navigating work and life” or “integrating work and life” to “balancing work and life.” “Navigating” suggests that you’re steering your life in a certain direction, rather than aiming to give equal attention to all parts of. And “integrating” means that you’re bringing together its different aspects. The language you prefer is a matter of personal taste and choice.

But if you keep striving for a balance that you never seem to achieve, you might want to reframe your goal as one of smooth navigation or integration of all your responsibilities. More than striving for a complete harmony that may remain forever elusive, aiming to do your best to stay on course every day may help you, as the editors of Redbook put it, to “squeeze the most out of life.”

This post was written by Sharon Teitelbaum, Master Certified Coach, www.stcoach.com.


11 February 2014

A Caregiver in Her 20s Shares Her Story


Caregiver grocery shopping

Many of us assume that we won’t have to become caregivers for our parents until at least our 30s or 40s. Often that’s true. The average age of a caregiver is 48, according to research by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

But caregivers include many younger adults like Samantha Burkett, who describes her experiences in in the November 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. In her 20s, Burkett has full responsibility for overseeing the care of her widowed mother, who had a brain aneurysm in ten years ago and lives in an assisted living facility. That adjustment hasn’t always been easy. “My mom understands why I make the decisions, but she has trouble accepting the situation,” Burkett told the magazine. “It’s frustrating when she questions my choices, like when I tell her she can’t just hop in a cab without telling anyone where she’s going.” 

As challenging as such moments can be, Burkett gained perspective on them when her mother’s doctor told her: “You need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of your mom.” Burkett began working with a counselor “who taught me how to step back when my emotions get too intense and to ask for help when I need it.”

Two other women also share their caregiving experiences in the Better Homes and Gardens article “Take Care,” and although it isn’t online, you may want to look for it at your library.  The message of their stories? For all the rocky moments it can involve, caregiving can lead to personal growth and stronger relationships with the people we love.

Bottom line: taking good care of yourself is particularly important when you are taking care of other people. 

This post was written by Sharon Teitelbaum, Master Certified Coach, www.stcoach.com.