The working parent juggle
By Raeleen | 20 August 2015
Bucking the trend of my Gen X upbringing
I’ve got baby boomer parents and, growing up, they were always work, work, work. They were from that post-war era where you had to work hard and if you were lucky, you got paid at the end of the day. Everything was expected to be hard.
That’s the way I was raised, and that’s the way I worked when I first left college. Bosses all seemed to expect it, and I was terrified of them, so I was eager to please. Plus, I felt so grateful to have a job in that competitive market, I would have done anything they asked! So that work ethic was reinforced, and I carried on like that in the early years of my career, until I came very close to burnout.
I was working long hours and late nights on a regular basis – putting my job ahead of all other aspects of my life. Luckily, I pulled myself back before I did myself any serious damage, but I decided something had to change.
That change came when I started my own business. I knew this was the only way I could ensure my wellbeing was paramount in business considerations. Of course, as anyone who has started a business knows, those first couple of years were probably the hardest I have worked in my life! But eventually, things settled down and I was able to put my vision and my values in place at Mettro.
I still think about work at home more than I would like, but that’s something I’m working on. And at least the actual hours I spend working are reasonable. It’s a hard line to walk as a business owner, because you know that if you spend an extra hour on that proposal, it could mean the difference between winning that job and losing that job. But I have reached a place in my career now where I have to make priority decisions that protect me, and my employees, for the longer term. There’s no point winning that job if the cost is an office full of people who are exhausted and wish they were somewhere else.
Drawing a line
I try very hard to switch off when I get home, and I encourage my staff to do the same. Yes, we work with new technology and sometimes our systems require attention outside of office hours. We will always respond to those issues because that’s our bread and butter, but we will never consider it the norm.
As a boss, I consider it my duty of care to not burn out my staff, and I also have a duty of care to me and my family to treat myself with the same care. That may sometimes mean we miss out on some work, but I am okay with that. I don’t want to go home from a stressful day and be cranky with my kids. And, equally, I don’t want to create a high-stress, high-pressure environment where my staff don’t enjoy coming to work.
I just want everyone to go home, and be happy about coming back tomorrow.