One day last week, my friend called me and was panicked. Unexpectedly, she was told she needs to travel for work next week during her kids' Spring Break. "I have to go or we'll lose the client," she told me.
Usually, I offer sympathy. But this time, I took a different tactic. I asked her how she'd feel if she stayed home. Would she be enjoy herself and feel like she was on vacation? Or would she be consumed with guilt and worried about what was going on at work without her? I suspect the later.
Don't get me wrong, I treasure my time with my kids. I look forward to spring break every year with them. But while I don't endorse making work a priority over children, sometimes making a sacrifice in your personal life is necessary to keep a job.
Around me I see working parents unable to get time off to be with their kids for Spring Break. They are scrambling to find a low cost option to keep their kids busy. Even those of us fortunate enough to take time off will most likely stay connected to our jobs by checking our email. Most of us working parents are far away from the days when Spring Break was a time to cut lose and soak up the sun without responsibilities.
I assured my friend that even if she grabs one afternoon of uninterrupted beach time with her kids, she has achieved the goal of breaking from her daily routine. In the end, work life balance is about making work and family blend the best we can -- and not beating ourselves up when life doesn't go as planned.