By Min Choi
HE B2B Marketing Operations Manager, LG Electronics USA
What can you do when you can no longer recall the company email you just sent to your boss, with your son’s name signed instead of yours? And what can you do when you’ve totally lost track of time at work and forgot to take your daughter to the dance recital she has been looking forward to for a year? The answer is brutally but truly ‘nothing.’ At work when I’m swamped with emails and conference calls, I feel like I’m failing my cause of working hard to be a good father. On the weekend at 7am my mind tells me I should be happy when my kids are trying to help me wake up by scrubbing my face with Clorox wipes. But despite that pungent smell, my body cannot lift itself up.
Although it may sound extreme, this is the daily life of an average white-collar dad or mom trying to sustain a work-life balance. But throughout the years, I’ve started wondering, ‘what is work-life balance anyway?’ Let’s be real. You cannot be fully charged at work and then be fully charged at home all the time. Not even my amazing LG phone can stay fully charged all day long. Instead of living my life with constant guilt that I am no good for either work or home, I decided to reinvent my yoga tree pose.
Rather than trying to balance the leg that will no longer go up to my knee, I just embrace the beer-belly body the company has granted me and do the tree pose lying down. In other words, at work, make sure you keep telling your nearby coworkers a few months ahead of time that your daughter’s dance recital is coming up. Trust me. They’re much more reliable than your Google calendar that always gives you the notification when you have your phone in silent mode.
At home, I started a thing called ‘adult talk time’ with my kids. My girl Lois being 6 and my boy Daniel being 3 both love hearing about what stresses me at work. They think it’s hilarious! I tell them about how my conference call went. How the person on the other end would not stop talking to the point where I had time to run to the bathroom and come back without them even noticing. I tell them about how there is a data I need to finish creating by this week but how I don’t like crunching numbers so much. Lois will sometimes give me very important recommendations such as ‘practice makes perfect, dad. Keep on it.’ She is totally right.
As our well-acclaimed British friends say, ‘keep calm and carry on.’ That is what I consider to be a work-life balance. Don’t feel guilty because you’re not perfect at work and you’ve delayed responding to an email an extra 14 hours. Even if it weren’t your kids, something else would have distracted you anyway. Don’t be guilty because you’ve missed some of your kid’s sports games. I am blessed to have a wife who thinks our 3-year-old’s soccer game is worth seeing over a final Cubs game. I love my family and my job as they’ve allowed me to find my own way to happiness.