What now? Let’s talk post-pandemic work-life balance

Having spent a year juggling far too many balls, it’s about time mothers put themselves first. Here, Annie Ridout shares ideas for working out what you want from life…

Annie Ridout is a journalist for the Guardian, Observer, Red, Forbes and more, author of Shy and The Freelance Mum, a qualified coach and founder of both The Early Hour and The Robora

During the first few months of the pandemic, women spent an average of 20.5 hours a week caring for children and doing homeschooling. Nearly twice as much time as men, according to WEF.

We also did an additional five hours a week of childcare.

And all this unpaid labour affected our careers.

According to the same study, one in six working mothers reduced their employment hours, and one in three working mothers adapted their work patterns.

The stats were lower for men.

Now, we are ‘returning to normal’ but before rushing out to secure new jobs or set up a business, it can help to take some time to look at exactly what you’d like your life to look like.

And I don’t just mean your career. I mean:

  • Creative projects
  • Rituals to weave into your days
  • Hobbies and passions
  • Exercise
  • The food you’re eating
  • Time with friends and family
  • Time alone
  • Rest
  • Play

But also your work…

  • What would you like to be doing, to earn money?
  • How many hours would you like to work, ideally?
  • When?

I often get my dreams, goals and plans down on paper, either using images cut out of magazines or drawing.

Usually, my family is in the centre of the page and I draw, write and source images that represent what I’d like for each of us.

It can work well to do visionboarding online, too. Websites like Canva offer free templates so that you can add in your own images, as well as stock images they provide.

In the ‘woo-woo’ sense, visonboarding is thought to help you to manifest the life you want: you set your intentions on paper/screen and you then start to work towards them.

The idea being that if you don’t know what you want, it can’t happen but if you do, you’ll find yourself more open to relevant opportunities to help you move towards your goals.

But I also think this type of exercise can be a way of giving yourself time, as a mother, to think about your own needs. To put yourself, and your dreams, centre-stage.

And after this past year, we really do deserve a bit of that.

If you’re keen to explore this further, I have an online course you might like. It’s called What do I want to do with my life?

It will help you to get clear on big dreams and goals, as well as how to balance work/life and incorporate moments of peace and creativity into your day.

Plus, I cover barriers you may face (perfectionism, fear of failure, imposter syndrome) and how to work through them.

It ends with some solid planning – including a downloadable planner – for making sure all this happens. But there are notes on what to do when the shit hits the fan, too.

Sign up before Sunday for £100 off, and the first 10 women will also get a free 1/2-hour coaching call with me.