The needs of the one: a perspective on achieving work life balance

Captain of the ship

Guest post by Sue Lawrence, PhD

My perspective on achieving the work/life balance, meaning providing a loving, enriching home for my child, a fulfilling career for myself, a supportive relationship for my husband, and doing all the little things to keep us moving forward can be summed up my James T. Kirk, captain of the Star Trek Enterprise:. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise had gone to great lengths to restore his emotionless friend Spock to life. When Spock asked why? Kirk replied: ‘Sometimes the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many’.

Yes folks, I put myself first in the equation. My needs, my time, my stuff, first. “Why you selfish, self-serving horrible woman”, you may be sputtering.”  Hear me out. Even selfish woman deserve to be heard.  Everything in the household, the parenting, the laundry, food shopping and preparing falls on my shoulders. I am the orchestra leader who delegates, ask for help with tasks and it is I, who sees the whole family picture, knows where we’re going and what has to be done. I am the captain of the ship and I am the captain of my soul. The soul part is vital. Filling my soul is my ultimate daily goal and working fills my soul. My work is my purpose on the planet, the answer to why I am here. If I don’t accomplish this goal, then the ship goes off course, sinks, bursts into flames, is taken over by pirates because the defenses are down. If I don’t fulfill my needs first, there is a grumpy mummy/wife prowling around. And we all, myself included, want to steer clear of a grumpy mummy.

Another metaphor that may resonate with you better than from someone who wears Lycra suits and a toupee is ‘place your own oxygen mask on first, before you help your child’.  You are no use to your child dead. A little harsh but you get my point.  If you are whiny, tired, complaining, never feeling good enough,  never feeling like you get it all done,  feel like the hamster on the treadmill, then consider leaping off that contraption and get better thoughts. Ask the question- what do I love to do? What skills do I love to use? For me, its writing. Writing fills me with energy. After writing, I feel I’ve accomplished the most important part of my day ; my soul is filled and I made some money.  After the soul is filled, I do all the other things that need to be done and I can do them with joy, pleasure, maybe with some mindfulness thrown in. But hey, there is at least no guilt hanging off of me, no hate filled, message ruminating around my head to bring me down into a spiral of despise.

In order to achieve this soul filling tasks, I enlist help. I use childcare. Gasp! Yes, I trust these people with my child because I need their help to get me to where I want to go. I am happy do give them money to do this because 1) I’m worth it 2) my child is worth it.  Clawing, whiny, snarling, tattered soul parents may balk at my choice. Please do. I choose to use my time and energy to fulfill my dreams to be the person I want to be. My child will benefit from having a mum filled with joy than the dark, dangerous alternative (and I know because I used to be her).

Listen, I don’t get it all done. And I don’t aim to. And what fills your soul completely may well be that little human you made. Wonderful!  I love my child and in order to love her at my best, I need to be my best self. And now that we’ve come to the end of this article, I can go and spend some time with my child.


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