By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
Let’s set the record straight–again: Work life is not a balancing act where we can set out each day to have 8 hours of work, 8 hours of personal time, and 8 hours of sleep. I wish!
It is a constant blend of activities: Fixing dinner while on a conference call with colleagues in a different time zone; going with your children to play at the park while catching up on email, or getting one more hour of reviewing a report after the baby falls to sleep.
This is the “new normal”. It can work for you if you flex and learn new ways to weave together life and work.
But what happens when work and life do clash?
No matter how much you can schedule or multi-task, your kids are not getting enough of your attention. Your marriage feels the strain or you can’t take care of yourself. Or, there is simply so much to do that those precious 6 hours of sleep are restless.
There are certain types of jobs and family issues that can defy your best efforts at work life blend and it’s important to recognize three warning signs that say loud and clear: try something else.
The first warning sign is your own health starts to suffer. Rule number 1: listen to your body and make sure you are taking care of you.
This is so not Latina. We will put the kids, the abuelos, and our significant other before ourselves. Unfortunately, if you get ill or run down, everyone will suffer. If you are being asked to work later than usual or to travel for meetings, talk to your boss about making up for time lost during the week ahead. Set a routine about recovering from stressful situations and follow through on those plans.
The second warning sign is about changes in your children’s well-being. When school grades suffer or teachers send home notes concerned about their lack of participation or if your child’s health is suffering — take action fast–especially if they are young.
In the first five years of life, many patterns can be developed to promote their long-term health. If your child has a chronic condition — physical or emotional, you may need to spend more time seeking the right kind of care to reduce the likelihood of other complications.
Taking time to address this now can mean a great deal to your career in the future. Ask about working from home and flex schedules at your workplace. If you can turn to family for extra care for your child, this is the key reason to stop being Super Mami and yes, ask for help.
My last warning sign is all about matters of the heart. When you would rather stay at work than go home or when your work schedule or the stress of your career makes it hard to spend time with your significant other, take action.
Like all things that matter, a solid relationship requires effort and focus. Getting counseling — alone or together — is a smart move at the earliest signs of trouble. It is amazing what an honest conversation may hold for you and your partner in life.
If any of these warning signs are flashing before you, reach out for support. A successful work life blend affirms both your career and your life!
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™ on Facebook or on Twitter @SavvyLatinaInfo.