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Work-life balance

What does this mean for you?

The term implies that they are exclusive of one another, so whether we are working part-time or full-time we are in a way putting our lives on hold until we leave the work place. Two questions immediately arise for me 1) to get the most out of lives and our chosen career we should be enjoying work, we should be getting satisfaction from doing the work…when did you last stop and think what is it that you get from working…is it knowledge and satisfaction that you are making a purposeful contribution in life or is it money to pay the bills, isn’t the former much more fulfilling and satisfying than the latter. 2) Where does this implication leave a mother who may ‘only’ be working as a vet part time but are also fulfilling other roles the rest of the time? Parenting is a full time job, so if you are ‘working’ and parenting where does that leave time, space and energy for your ‘life’ part? We spend so much of our time working why not enjoy it, why not love your paid and unpaid jobs?

As parents you very quickly realise that the pecking order that may once have been present in your house has changed. As a parent you are the carer of your children, you are the one who will give up your time and energy for your dependents…the buck stops with you. This realisation happens pretty quickly after having them and very soon you wonder how did you ever have time to work…and how would you ever have time to work again?

It can be a hard juggle; the best way I have found to dealing with it, is by my compartmentalising my life and being ever present in the role I am doing at that time. When I’m at work being a vet I’m focused and totally dedicated to the job, when I am a being mum I am focused on the children. So when I am in vet role I am working hard for the practice being there for the team, I have good turnover and I make myself valued and someone that contributes well. By being proactive and fully present it has given me bartering power-the ability to say I have done my bit and now I have to go and pick the children up. Obviously this would be great if this line was well demarcated and never breached. However, in reality the line may be a little more blurred.

I have found the way it works best for me is to aim for the absolute with flexibility around the edges, this flexibility for me comes in the form of compromise. The compromises often take various forms, it is never when I leave to pick up the children-I have been late before to pick up from nursery and never again!!! But more that every now and again we will go and have ‘fun’ and see a pony on the way home. This only works with some owners so take control of you diary, think and plan ahead, ensure you are one step ahead and have thought about what is both possible and acceptable and have a back up plan and ask for help. If you are continually running late, do you need to improve your time management or do you need to start saying no...You can't do everything, this is your work life make sure you enjoy it, make sure you are in control of all the parts that you have say over.

Or I will speak to owners in the afternoons when I’m at home with the children. Again this isn’t ideal but if you talk to your clients and let them know that you wanted to speak to them today and let them know their blood results etc., say you have finished work and are now at home with the children. I have found it a lot less stressful to let them know from the outset that you are with the children, not only does it explain the noise in the background when inevitably it happens, but the client thinks they are extra special and really appreciate the effort you are making to phone them even when you aren’t meant to be working. The biggest advantage for me though is that it means when all these little jobs are done and out of the way, I can forget about them and enjoy being with the children-much better than having things left hanging over you or having the practice phone you to say that Mrs. jones is angry that you haven’t phoned her with her results. In whichever role I am playing at each time my aim is to be fully present.

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.