Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Work-Life Balance

Ever since I went on maternity leave this time round, I've noticed a pattern amongst my friends.
Basically all of them are working in corporates, and they don't seem to have lives.
It's strange. Especially after the twins arrived, there were so many people who were enthusiastic about coming over. One particular weekend, four different friends - Vani, Shome, Manav and Anirudh had promised to come over.
None of them showed up. Not one. And the amazing thing was that none of them even bothered to call.
I realized that when they had said 'I'm going to come and see you and the babies this weekend' - they didn't really mean it. I, on the other hand, had taken it quite literally as their planning to come over. In fact, it was quite funny because here I was thinking 'How will we fit in so many visitors on one weekend' - and then all of them bailed.
I think there is a lot of insincerity creeping into our daily interactions. Some of it is of the type where you meet someone you knew a while back but don't really care too much about anymore, and then you go 'Oh give me a missed call, I'll save your number' - and you know pretty well you're never going to call them or hear from them again. But this particular thing - ''I'll see you this weekend, for sure''- occurred to me with people who happen to be amongst my closest friends. And I know they don't mean it -and I also know that perhaps I am guilty of exactly the same behaviour - but still, it's kind of sad.
The basic issue seems to be that very few people know how to manage their lives outside of their work. The companies that we work in seem to be taking it all out of us. Squeezing out all the energy that we have. Leaving us with only a day or two here and there in which to manage all our household chores and other family committments - and giving us hardly any time and space to nurture any other type of relationship.
I'm sure a lot has been said and written about some sort of social transformation in the big cities in India and the resulting loneliness of the urban working population. But it's only become obvious to me personally during this time that I've been sitting at home feeding my babies.
Incidentally, all these people eventually came and visited. But it took each of them an average of two cancellations and re-schedulings to eventually make it.
Surely there is a better way. There must be a way to hold down a job - no, to be pretty damn good at your job - and still find a way to make time for your family - and the, above and beyond that, still find time for your friends.
You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.
Or am I?


  1. agree with every bit of what you've written.Wish I had listened to my mum when she insisted on teaching as a possible career option.

  2. yup a million something years of evolution and this is the best we can do?

  3. I know what you mean, I worked in corporate for over 20 years and had similar observations. That's why I started a business to support females in that very situation. Trying to take away the chores etc out of the home life so when you do have time at home, you can enjoy it properly.

  4. I know what you mean. I've been there... I mean the other side.. not being able to visit people even while wanting to.. but not calling to cancel is not done... The trouble is we do not give personal relationships as much importance as work .. that's sad considering jobs will come and go no matter how much you try to stick but friends.. they ALWAYS stay. It's a question of prioritising.

  5. you are not the only dreamer here!
    I dream as much and also suck at keeping up with friends and family... :(

  6. WLB is a difficult tightrope to walk (as if there was ever an easy one).

    i do wish i was working part time. i dont have time anymore for people apart from the immediate family and one single friend. not for the other very close friends, not for hobbies, not for anything.

    perhaps i will start working part time.

    if you find a happy solution, let people know!

  7. This is an issue I have been grappling with over the last 4 years. I am an introvert,so is my husband and it takes a very long time for us to even approach new people, forget making friends and then visiting them.
    Now, all of our friends have moved out of the city and we have been left to make new friends and begin our social life all over again.
    But its been 2 years now and that just hasnt happened. What with work, the baby, the weekend rush to get chores done, other weekends to go meet family, I find that we have no time to meet new people, let alone make friends.
    What I am really worried about is how this is going to affect our daughter- to see her parents drowning in work on household chores all the time and not go out to meet people at all? I am worried she may turn out like us... and I am so not liking the idea of my child being an introvert...
    Sorry for the loooong rant.. The point is that... I am worried... really worried.. and your post seemed to say everything that I have thinking about... so poured my heart out here...

  8. No Y, you are not alone. I had friends visiting last weekend, they came down after THREE LONG years after begging/pestering/blackmailing. Then there are relatives who stay in the same city as I but whom I never meet. It's my fault as well as theirs.
    It is indeed very sad, cos I am scared to even count the number of people who fall in the category who will drop all their work and come running to help me, if needed. :(

  9. I feel for you honey!!! I've found the same damn thing happening here in the U.S. but primarily for some reason amongst my Asian friends. The rest seem to for the most part make time for fun and friends.

    Here's the thing though- being good enough at work takes a lot out of people these days though because the unwritten expectation is you should be exceeding expectations and even whatever happens to be the gold standard at your workplace.


  10. You are definitely not the only one dreaming.. but it is sign of the sadness of our times that we have to dream about work life balance, it should to my mind be a basic right like the salary we get paid. We don't have kids yet but total respect to couples who manage work and kids and friends and family. Totally agree on companies squeezing the last drop and wanting even more..

  11. Hi

    I was reading about your c-sec and other travails after. Just wanted to wish you and your family well. I hope you do not have to face hospitals for a while.
    lots of love to the cute babies and peanut.

  12. This used to be the story of my life too till I went on a break. Dunno how I'll handle it once I get back to work though.


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