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Working mum contemplates balance amid chaos

  • 27 November 2015

The tweet I sent that afternoon pretty much summed things up: 'Running late for work-life balance seminar. Why? Life, of course.'

The irony wasn't lost on me. I received notification of the seminar via my work email. At the time I was hovering somewhere between the 11th hour of a Monday deadline (I work on a weekly publication) and working out what to make for dinner with an all-but empty fridge and pantry (of course, the fact that I didn't manage to get to the supermarket on the weekend was in itself kind of revealing).

'Parents of today,' went the press release, 'face a constant juggle balancing the demands of work and the intrusion of 24-7 connectivity, with the needs of themselves and their children. Combining work and family responsibilities is a business-critical challenge for organisations, and a dilemma for both mothers and fathers.'

Yes, as a working mother of two young children who struggles to keep all balls in the air, something about 'Finding a better balance together: Contemporary solutions for working parents and employers' struck a chord.

The fact that it was to be presented by Professor Jan Nicholson from the La Trobe University's Judith Lumley Centre, whose work in child development and parenting is widely renowned (the results of which can be found in the longitudinal study of children 'Growing Up in Australia' and seen in the exceptional Life At ... series on ABC) sealed the deal.

When I mentioned the event to my husband, he was all for it. This was despite knowing that even a minor modification to our routine could so easily tip us into 'insanity'. He also knew that for me to get to the seminar at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne's CBD, meant that he would have to leave work at A Reasonable Hour.

Not that finding the time to attend the seminar was a breeze for me, either. While 'officially' I work part-time, I also freelance as a writer, volunteer regularly at my kids' primary school, have increasingly frail elderly parents who I feel terribly responsible for, and try to keep fit and maintain some semblance of a social life. (I did say that the seminar struck a chord, but perhaps hit a nerve was more accurate.)

On the day of the seminar I'd managed to fill my schedule to breaking point.

After an early-morning PT session, I walked the kids to the pool for their school