February 4, 2013

Work-Life Balance – Advice from the Trenches, Part 2

by: Kelley Johnson, Attorney
I recently shared with you a few of my thoughts about how to navigate a career while also being a wife and mother. The advice I shared has a lot to do with my own experience but was also gleaned from others who have walked the same path. Whether you are married, have children, or other commitments, finding a balance between doing good work and having a fulfilling personal life can certainly be challenging at times. Here are some additional thoughts to help you strike the balance between the life you want to lead and the work you want to produce.

Work hard while your kids are young. This is another piece of advice that I held onto. The advice was to work hard while your kids are young and while they don’t remember. In full disclosure, I will say this doesn’t always ring true. When my daughter was still in preschool, she would make it a point to call me out when I would miss something special at her school, such as the bike race in the middle of the day that I had to miss. “Don’t worry mom, Lilly’s mom was there and she cheered me on.” In general, however, it is still true. It was a lot easier to work those long hours when my children were very small. Now, there are after-school activities, homework – and many volunteer opportunities during the school day. I still don’t get to everything, but I now find it easier after proving myself in those earlier years – to make that balance work.

Find a schedule that works with your family and work, and stick with it. I know some moms who come in very early at work. I try to get my kids on the bus and tend to work the later hours in the evening. No matter what area of law you practice, the long hours are unavoidable and the work has to get done. Find whatever schedule works best for your family to make those hours and stick with it the best that you can. A schedule is not just better for your family, but it helps your office and co-workers know when and where they can reach you. Don’t keep everyone guessing – stick to your schedule.


It’s a marathon, not a sprint
. I’ve practiced law for over 7 years now, and I know that among my bar community peers – I am still considered a baby lawyer. If you are like me, you want to do everything possible to make yourself a better lawyer, but building a reputable law practice takes time. I encourage you to take those tough assignments, to network whenever you can, and to join those associations, but realize that you can’t do everything. Most importantly, don’t neglect your family. You will be practicing law for a long, long time – we will get there, I promise.

Don’t forget to take care of you. Finally, a piece of advice directly from me to you: don’t forget about yourself. Whether it is exercise, shopping or curling up with a good book – make an effort to reward yourself. Being an attorney and raising a family is not an easy road to take – but it is such a rewarding one. It can be easy to focus on what you are not doing, but don’t be so hard on yourself. There are fewer and fewer of us out there, so pat yourself on the back and reward yourself. You deserve it!

Those are my words of wisdom to my fellow working moms, wives, and sisters. What tips do you have that I may have missed? What do you do to balance your work with your personal commitments?
photo credit: Roger Smith via photopin cc

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