Juggling Act: Mom Executive Shares Tips for Healthy Work-Life Balance

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Work-Life Balance

Bethany Sexton, mother, wife and Renown Health System Vice President, shares five tips for doing what you love, going home to those you love and finding “me-time” in between.

As a mom of two small children and a third on the way, the idea I may be neglecting my family because of my career is never far from my mind. However, the only way I can walk out the door in the morning and leave my family is because I love my work. I am passionate about it and find it exceedingly fulfilling — I know its part of what makes me a great mom and wife. Bethany and family

But even with my meaningful work, it is all too easy to reflect on all the things I may not have done for my kids or my husband at the end of a long day or overstressed week.

Since having my son four years ago, I have worked on how I could best balance my career and my family. Sounds like another thing to add to the list, right? But I discovered that investing a little time in me, in order to find ways to be my best self for my kids and husband, gave me more energy and helped me feel happier at the end of each day because I was being true to myself.

Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Wayne Sotile, a nationally recognized specialist in Positive Psychology and Resilience. He shared one concept that really stuck with me about the impact working parents have on their children and partners. He says research finds the greatest impact, positive or negative, doesn’t come from the number of hours you work or are away from your family, but how you behave when you come back to them.

As I began my typical drive home from work after listening to him, I thought about what I was taking home with me. When I walk through the door, am I happy, tired, or stressed? Am I short with my kids or do I fully engage and connect with them? Am I taking work home with me either mentally or physically?

I also began reflecting on some simple things I try to do to be my best self.

I came up with these five actions that help me find the balance between being a mother, wife and colleague. I hope you will identify some things you can incorporate into your every day routines or home-life that will make you more content, less stressed and feeling like you are living as a better version of yourself:

    1. Decompress on the drive home. Decompress on the driveIt sounds funny, but this time is for me. It’s where I begin to shut off work day chaos and prepare myself for what’s next.

      Sometimes I unwind listening to National Public Radio (NPR). Other times I turn off all distractions and simply look around at the amazing landscape and try to see something I haven’t seen before on that well trodden path home. Inevitably, a couple of deep breathing sessions also help.

    2. Give it my all. Back in high school (which feels like ancient history at this point) my mom told me the time I spent in class was mandatory, and so I might as well make the most of it. She said if I really applied myself in class each day, I would spend a lot less time out of school on homework.

      This concept continued to make sense through college and when I stepped into the workforce. There are a certain number of hours that must be spent at work and when I give it my all and really push myself not only do I feel great about what I have accomplished, but there is a lot less “homework” at the end of the day.

Journal at work

  1. Use a journal at work.
    While this started as a practical tool to help me manage the tasks of the day and ensure I could look back and not miss anything I needed to do, it has become much more. It’s a place for me to jot down a few lines of poetry that pop into my head, quotes I heard from those around me that inspire me or where I can doodle or sometimes sketch a quick picture.I find that even a brief moment of creativity is rejuvenating. About once or twice a month, I take 10 minutes to flip back through the pages and reflect on what I see; it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
  2. Catch a quiet lunch.I used to try to work through lunch because I felt like I was being more productive. But I’ve come to realize that even scheduling a dedicated 20 to 30 minutes to grab a quick bite and allow myself some time away from my desk gives me more energy throughout my afternoon. It also spills over into family time when I get home.

    While it may not happen every day, scheduling time for me makes it a more regular occurrence.

  3. Dedicate uninterrupted family time. I have a small routine when I first walk through the door at night. First, I greet my family. Then, I change out of my work clothes and come back to be with them.

    In a world of electronic connectedness it’s become a conscience effort of mine to disconnect and make space for personal connections. When I change into my kid-friendly clothes I also purposefully place my phone — and my email and all the other electronic connections to work — on my bathroom counter knowing I can satisfy my craving to check in on any outstanding work later in the evening. I make a decision to dedicate my time to my kids and husband because they are my priority. Plus, the simple action of leaving my phone behind is freeing.

At the end of the day, I am usually exhausted just like every other working parent out there. What sustains me is knowing the choices I make during the day, even simple ones, help me to be the best mom, wife and person I can be. My hope is through sharing some of my experiences others can feel connected and validated, and understand there are practical ways to pursue any goal or dream by staying true to yourself and to what is most important to you.

I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences or ideas — do you have tips or tricks to striking the balance in your work-family-life, too?

Bethany Sexton familyAbout the Author
Bethany Sexton, wife (just celebrated 10 years in 2014!) and mother of two small children with a third on the way, rejoined Renown in 2014 as its Health System Vice President. She has been recognized by the Puget Sound Business Examiner as a 40 Under Forty honoree; has led her teams to be recognized nationally for high performance by the Healthcare Financial Management Association and completed the 2004 Ironman Canada with her brother. In her spare time, Bethany enjoys heading into the great outdoors, photography, painting and sketching, and watching her kids explore the world around them.In January 2013, Bethany’s brother was diagnosed with gastric cancer which claimed his life nine months later. This experience along with the birth of her second child that same year caused her to re-examine many aspects of work, family life, and her true passions. It was this processthat lead her and her family back to Reno from Tacoma, Wash. to be close to her sister-in-law, niece and nephew. She feels compelled to share her newfound insights on seeking life passions and living an authentic life with others.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips. I am encouraged by the balance you have found as a working mother and am inspired to follow your advice.
    • Balance means something different to everyone, the most important thing is finding what it means for you. Glad some of these ideas are helpful.
  2. Insight comes with effort. Starting to reflect is the first step toward wisdom. "To be wise is to know yourself". Thus said Aristotle, Buddha, Montaigne and Jesus. Thank you for sharing your path of insight.
  3. Thank you for the great reminder to keep our life in balance, and therefore, more fulfilling. Sometimes life happens and you forget to reflect and enjoy.

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