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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Work-Life Balance - Self-Care Without Guilt

A recent New Yorker cartoon shows a Mom in a bathrobe and a little boy in pajamas, coming down a ladder outside a second floor window with thick smoke billowing out of it. The boy has just made it onto the ladder from the window; the woman is further down. She says to him, "Don't forget Mommy's yoga mat, Simon."

Many of the working Moms (and Dads) I have coached over the years feel guilty taking care of themselves. They might get to the gym for their cardio workout, but they feel guilty about it. They might see a friend once in a while, but they feel like they're stealing time from their children. Their internal model goes something like this: "A good working parent is either with her children, at work, or en route between the two." Anything else, according to this model, is tantamount to sacrificing your children's well-being for your own. You might as well send your child back into a burning building - that's how selfish and amoral IT FEELS.

The cartoon is a wonderful image of the EXTREME. That's how it sometimes FEELS. But chances are, you are not at that extreme! If you aren't sure, get a reality check from someone you know and trust.

Some people hire me when the way they're managing their lives just isn't working for them any more. They've hit the wall in some way: they've gotten really sick, they're running into performance issues at work, they've become a "screaming shrew" with their children, something else has broken down, they're deeply unhappy, or they see one of these things coming. They know that something has to change because these results are unacceptable to them. But they need help figuring out what to change and how to pull it off. That's where I come in. I help busy parents get off their depletion diet and get back to a fuller life so they can be more effective as parents and professionals. Each person's solution is unique - but very often, much can be accomplished through small, strategic changes.

I see a real need for parents to have support to take care of themselves AS WELL AS their children. A small amount of additional self-care can make a huge difference in the life of a parent who is largely doing without.

If you are running on empty, find some ways to fill your tank. If you're afraid you're being unconscionably selfish to do so, get a reality check from someone you respect who knows you and your children. Learning to keep your own tank filled takes practice - it may FEEL a lot more selfish than it really is.

Copyright 2006 Sharon Teitelbaum. All rights reserved.

Sharon Teitelbaum, author of "Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance," Master Certified Coach, and motivational speaker, helps high achievers re-claim their work-life balance. Her interactive coaching process provides a powerful catalyst towards greater career and life satisfaction. Sharon's work has been featured in national publications including The New York Times,, and Working Mother Magazine. Visit Sharon's website at and subscribe to "Strategies of Change" to receive practical tips for work-life success.


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