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Work-life balance within a childless/childfree context

By Victoria Fryer 

Just the other day I was reading an article about work-life balance. The first point made read: “You don’t need kids to struggle with balance.” I thought, ‘Yes! Someone’s finally going to talk about the nuances of work-life balance that don’t have to do with childcare.’ And then no more was said about it; every other point in the article made reference to families with children.

The challenges of achieving work-life balance without children are different challenges, to be sure. It’s not that we have to juggle a demanding job with taking the kids to sports and doctor appointments or helping them with homework. Our challenges are more like giving our own desires due priority and understanding that it’s just as important for us to draw boundaries between our work and our personal lives.

I wrote previously about a friend who was asked to work late because she didn’t have small children at home. I do think some people believe that, well, what could be more important than taking care of children? That, if you don’t have children, work must be the next best thing. What other responsibilities could supersede it? But more often, I think we ourselves run the risk of thinking that. That because we don’t have responsibilities at home, we should give that time to work.

If work is the thing in life that makes you most happy, then that is okay. And I totally know people like that. Sometimes that’s even me. But when all we want to do is go home and make dinner and hang out with our significant others or pursue our hobbies, we feel that should take a back seat to our work priorities. (Disclaimer: I get that sometimes, deadlines loom and a little extra time in the office is necessary. That’s not what I’m talking about here.)

I think it’s important for us childless and childfree folks to remember that our time outside of work is just as important. Maybe, at home, you’re a blogger or an aspiring novelist or a musician or an amateur chef or a marathon runner. We work so we have time to pursue those kinds of things with a certain amount of freedom—or, at least, that’s certainly part of it.

I often struggle with work guilt. I ask myself, ‘Am I working hard enough?’ Sometimes I think, ‘This is all I have… am I making the most if it? It can feel frivolous to want to carve out personal time to pursue hobbies, passion projects, personal interests. But I believe that it’s so important. Just because you don’t have children at home, doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize a life you love that’s healthily balanced with your work.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless and happy

Comments

  1. To think that work life balance is something only people with children struggle with is naïve to say the least. I don’t have to look far to dismiss this assumption out of hand. We have no children, yet sometimes, my husband and I feel overwhelmed.

    On many occasions, we had discussions about what our priorities should be. Yes work is important as it pays the bills, however, we make sure that we are not defined by it. For us leisure time together and pursuing personal projects and passions is equally (if not more) important and so we actively make time for those things. And then there are day to day living commitments, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, gardening etc, without mentioning keeping in touch with loved ones. All these things do add up. This idea that not having children automatically means that we have a lot of free time on our hand could not be further from the truth.

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