Balancing having a baby and investing time in a new career is always something on both our minds. But does the balance really exist? It can. It depends.
Not long ago I read about Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg leaving everyday at 5:30pm on the dot so that she is home in time for dinner with her family. It was one of many articles trending around “40-hour work weeks are inefficient” and Marissa Mayer becoming CEO of Yahoo while pregnant.
When I first moved to London six years ago, something interesting happened.
Back then I was meeting recruiters to get my foot on the London employment ladder, and all of them would declare I didn’t have “London experience” and slip a piece paper in front of me to sign. It was expected that – if I wanted to work in London – I would sign the paper, no questions asked.
A signature from me on that paper meant I would be opting out of the EU legislative directive that I need not work more than 40 hours a week. In my industry people were more or less expected to work as long as it takes.
Flash forward a few years and I’ve worked my way up that London ladder, but the expectation hasn’t changed; sometimes I need to work late or over weekends.
Part of that is down to time zones and working trans-Atlantically, and part of that is we have to react to real world events. But like everyone who has just started a family, I would like to have a balance. And ultimately I’m starting to think more in terms of efficiency.
I find having a hard stop helps. If I tell my team that I need to leave at 6pm on the dot everyday to get home and cook for my family, it seems to focus minds efficiently.
I also now rely a lot more on being mobile. Sometimes I do have to take work home, but I fit it in around bathing, feeding and housework. For example, I check email in batches (at the top of the hour, say), not obsessively every minute. I offer to everyone that if anything is urgent, text or call me. So far I haven’t had any emergencies.
The struggle for balance will always continue, but I’m hoping to make technology work for me, not bog me down. We’ll see.