Over the last decade or so, I have learned the importance of protecting my time and keeping an edge or border around my most precious resource. Finding margin, fighting for margin, and protecting margin are some of my biggest responsibilities for my family. By creating margin in our lives, we are able to rest, recover, and then flourish in the areas that we focus on. In order to set us up for success, we must evaluate our time to create and sustain margin.
I loved my high school English teacher, Ms. Webb. She was smart, creative, kind, and yet her class was HARD. She somehow managed to get most of us to love her, despite her high expectations. The negative emotion was usually related to the use of the MLA Style (Modern Language Association) of writing, and the very precise expectations for how the paper should be formatted and cited. In case you forgot, 1″ margins were the standard, and as much as we all tried to sneak 1.25″ margins so our papers would meet the 5 page length required, we were always caught.
A friend pointed out recently that I use the word ‘margin’ frequently when I make references to my time, and that many people may not relate to that word in that way. I actually had to stop and think about the normal context for the word. Thus, my trip down memory lane to high school English class. Continue Reading >>
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the benefits of viewing business travel as a necessary investment in your family rather than a necessary evil. Now, let’s discuss a method to ease it’s negative impact on our families.
Apart from strategic choices that limit business travel all together, one of the ways we have implemented this idea, is by thinking more holistically about our lives and integrating business travel and personal travel as much as possible. We have made a choice to fly me or our whole family on my husband’s business trips on as many occasions as possible. This is purposeful, intentional and has required a lot of work and financial investment on our part. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it complicated to contend with the school calendar? Yes. Is it hard to leave the kids with a babysitter or family member or friend? Yes. Is it a logistical nightmare sometimes? Yes. Does it mean air travel with kids? Yes. Is it still worth it? YES. YES. YES.
Although your circumstances may be different from ours regarding the plausibility of traveling on business trips, the principles still apply and can be incorporated in your own life using a variety of means. Maybe it’s simply being more intentional with FaceTime, or creating some specific family rituals during business trips. Whatever it is, make an effort to think more holistically about your life.
Here are 5 benefits of integrating business travel and family:
About ten years ago, my husband began traveling several weekends out of the year for work. As a young couple without kids, business travel was an exciting opportunity for him. The idea of seeing more of the world while providing for our family and gaining valuable experience along the way was definitely intriguing. Thankfully, he has worked for an incredible company that cares greatly for the well-being of its team members. The trips he takes for business, are mostly fun, energizing, and vital for his effectiveness and the success of the company. This does not mean that it is never grueling. 5:00 AM flights before a two hour time zone change, anyone? It can be exhausting, no matter how beautiful the place. It is still work, after all.
If business travel is apart of the job, we need to view it as a necessary investment in our family’s success rather than a necessary evil. The benefits of business travel usually have mostly to do with the success of the traveling spouse’s job, which then helps the family as a whole. If not, why take the trip in the first place? It is far too easy to accept the benefits of employment, without appreciating the adversity it took to achieve those benefits. If we have chosen as a family to accept the job, we have chosen to accept it, in its entirety. If that includes business travel, we need to incorporate it into our family life as a whole, as it doesn’t just affect the person that is traveling. It affects every member of the family and multiple days of family time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not excusing workaholic tendencies or a lack of boundaries around personal time. I am saying that we have a choice about the job. If we don’t like it or it requires too much time away from our family, we need to figure something else out. Maybe it is simply having a conversation to discuss potential changes or placing some better boundaries around work and family. Whatever it is, we need to choose a proactive approach to our circumstances. Continue Reading >>
I don’t know about you, but this can be an absolutely insane time of year for me. The change of seasons, beginning of school, kick-off of almost every activity, fall festivals galore, and sports mania, almost send me over the edge every year. I thrive on routine and my #1 strength from StrengthsFinder 2.0 is discipline. (Pray for my husband.) Until I figure out how to manage all of the ‘new’ in our lives, chaos threatens my internal world. On top of that, my husband travels for work mostly in the Fall and Spring. So, add on some solo parenting in the midst of all of the aforementioned chaos, and I need an intervention.
After feeling particularly frazzled last week, I have taken a more proactive approach this week and am already reaping the rewards. One simple change can be the edge you and I need to ‘right the ship’ in the waves of commotion. Before you read this, please remember that HOW=Hope of Winning. If this doesn’t work for you, use it as inspiration to find something that does. Your HOW can be different from my HOW. If you are a new mom, fighting an illness, or purposefully catching up on rest, just file this away in the back of your mind for a future time.
So what’s my simple change to help me feel less frazzled? Getting up two hours earlier. Yes, 2! I know, I know. You’ve heard this before and it’s just not your thing.
Before you dismiss it, here are 4 reasons that getting up earlier is actually worth it: Continue Reading >>
I spent most of my first three decades of life allowing my feelings to rule almost every decision, every perspective, and every relationship. How I felt was how I felt, and to be true to myself, I had to abide by those feelings. I was raised with a good moral compass and was more tomboy than drama queen, so most of my feelings were pretty justified, right?
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One of my dearest friends has three kids under the age of five. She is the epitome of a Southern Martha Stewart, and also has a very successful career in financial planning. I have often envied her ability to work at an office all day, cook a gourmet dinner for her family, and create a perfect Pinterest craft after the kids go to bed. I have also watched her struggle to figure out how to balance and integrate work and home. She makes lots of hard decisions and is constantly reevaluating. I admire her tenacity to stand firm in what she believes in, while still pursuing a career and raising a family. Continue reading >>
I have hated the question “what do you do?” for years. How am I supposed to answer that? When ordinary days are filled with very ordinary tasks without a good name for them, it can quickly feel like an accusation. It literally makes me want to hide. When I was at home in my twenties without a career or kids, it was especially devastating. I could not even use the term “Stay at Home Mom!”
Now that a good majority of my friends have kids in school, I have noticed a whole new level of vehemence for that question. It is usually phrased “what are you going to do now?” (when their baby goes off to kindergarten.) Cue the anxiety. When kids transition to school, it seems like women frantically run around trying to figure out who they are and what they do so no one catches them off guard with that question. We all know the question is coming eventually, and if we do not have a career to default to, it can cause us to wrestle with discontentment in being at home. Continue reading >>
Do you struggle with your identity as a human-doing instead of a human-being? Do you measure your success by what you have accomplished versus who or Whose you are? Do you live in a constant state of defeat?
I have had so many days where my mental to-do list looks exactly the same as it did the day before. Because yesterday fell apart. Like exploded in my face. It probably would have been better if I had just not gotten out of bed. What’s worse, is that I carry an emotional hang-over the next day and feel rather miserable about myself because I didn’t get anything done. In those moments, I find myself spiraling downward and questioning everything about myself. “What am I even doing? I am so worthless! How come everyone else can do this and I can’t?! What is wrong with me?” Left unchecked, this negative self-talk can paralyze me for days. Can you relate? Continue reading >>
We had just moved. We were just forced to move. It was not our plan and this house did not feel like our home. I can still remember walking through the door for the first time.
I was a twenty-something woman who was no longer employed outside of the home. I had just quit my full-time job the month before to be…at home. But not this home. At our other home that I loved. I had no kids. I was not pregnant. We were hoping to have a baby soon but after almost eight years of marriage, I was wondering if that was going to happen. For the first time in my life, I truly did not fit into any normal category. What twenty-something woman without kids stays at home full-time? The doubts swirled through my head as I tried to adjust to this new found environment that threatened to swallow me whole. Continue reading >>