The past year in a new career as an accountant has been full of transitions for me. And there’s one transition I truly welcome: that of my work-life balance.
Now, I know there are some of you who want to scream at me for saying this. “Work-life balance in accounting?! What are you talking about?” I know many of you put in grueling workweeks during tax season and barely see your family or friends during that time.
But I don’t say this to gloat. I’ve been in my own version of the trenches, too. When I was a journalist, the unpredictable nature of the news cycle played havoc with my need to have a predictable parenting schedule. As an editor in a busy newsroom, I used to panic when news broke late in the day, because all I could think was, “I don’t have time for this! Day care is closing in 45 minutes!” How to balance the sense of duty to my job while knowing that my son needed to be picked up no later than 6:15? I either felt like a disloyal journalist or a bad mother. I can’t tell you how many times I cut the end-of-the-workday timing so close that my racing heart threatened to explode out of my chest as I fought through rush-hour traffic to the day-care center.
All of that played a role, among others, in my decision to leave journalism and retrain for a new career. And to my relief, I’m finding much more balance as an accountant in private industry. Of course, there are busy days and deadlines to meet, times when I wish there were 40 hours in the day so I could get more done. But the tasks and projects in my current role are relatively predictable and thus easier to manage and organize. There is no breaking news. I also like knowing that if I don’t get everything done on a given workday that I set out to accomplish, I can leave work when it’s time to pick up my son from preschool, then later after he’s gone to bed, I can finish my work at home. It’s a wonderful escape valve that helps me meet the goals of both work and parenthood.
Plus, having my own sense of accomplishment from work makes me a happier mother. Although that may sound clichéd, it’s true.
That’s not to say I never experience working-mother guilt, or feel that tug at my heart when there’s a field trip scheduled for my son’s class and I know I’m not able to leave work in order to tag along. And I know as my son gets older and moves up through school, our schedules will have to keep evolving and become ever more flexible. But all in all, I’m happy with the balance I’ve struck.