Zia Hassan

Work Life Balance Equation

One of the things that’s kept me energized and uplifted over the last year as a new parent has been my job. Many other people that I’ve spoken to actually dreaded going back to their job after time off with their kids. I enjoyed every single moment of my paternity leave and would live inside of it if I could… but when I returned to work, the chaos from having a newborn started to subside a bit.

Of course, this moment coincided with my son going to daycare, and also becoming a little more independent in life.

But often when we talk about work/life balance, we’re more concerned with making the “life” side of the equation bigger. This is the case for me too. I kept wondering how I could stay present in the moment while constantly worrying about work. It’s a habit loop that many parents I know fall into, especially those who work in education.

The answer, for me, came from having a job that I like and being able to decide when the job was over every day. And since I’m a traveling consultant, my day usually ends the minute I walk in the door from wherever I’ve been that day. When I was an elementary school teacher, I never seemed to be able to find the time to separate from work, due to the demanding nature of the job.

So now, I’m more present with my child. I schedule my day in such a way that work gets done when it’s time for work, and when it’s time to play with my son, I’m truly playing, improvising, imagining, and exploring. It’s absolutely wonderful.

But I couldn’t have those moments of beauty and play without the moments of routine and structure that my job provides. It’s a yin yang. I feel like I have a purpose in the working world, and I feel the freedom to discover my purpose as a father in the other pockets of time that exist in my life.

Restructuring our lives, if we need to, is an important activity. Doing work that matters and doesn’t take advantage of us is important too, even if it takes a while to find it. It’s not just about trying to work less, but about packing value in the times when you’re not at your job.

If work life balance means mindless web surfing, we might still find yourself yearning for more. Intentionality, purposefully deciding what we will do with our precious moments, can unlock the joy that was in front of us the whole time.