I don’t know about you, but to me the attainment of a healthy work-life balance feels continually illusive.

Sometimes work is intense, and I may have a month or two where I’m working a lot, away travelling or just juggling multiple work demands. Then maybe one of my children is having a tough time and they require extra attention or input. At some point I inevitably catch Covid and suddenly everything stops for a week. Interest rates go up, inflation soars, and the household budget no longer balances. It feels like there’s always something that’s strained or demanding more of my attention at any one time.

How do we stay sane in a world of constant demands and find relief from the unrelenting pressure of life? I’ve come to recognise that my life is made up of seasons rather than a typical week. If I can recognise a season and understand how long it’s likely to last, then I can usually cope pretty well. If I know I have a project on and I need to work long days for a month then I can do it. If I have to work long days endlessly without an end date, then it very quickly becomes wearing.

I was listening to a podcast, Raising Boys & Girls, last week and Madeline Levine, PhD was speaking about raising healthy and balanced children. She stated that all children need P.D.F. in their lives. Playtime. Downtime. Family time. Then she paused and said, “actually, all adults need it to”.

I recognise in my own life that when one of those is missing, I don’t feel mentally healthy. If I’m missing playtime, I feel like life is boring. If I’m low on downtime, I get exhausted and my efficiency levels decrease in all areas. And if I’m lacking in family time then I feel disconnected from the people I love the most.

For me, playtime is about something that gives joy and makes me feel like I’m living life. I love to travel and experience new things. Last weekend I visited Liechtenstein while travelling from Switzerland to Germany. I only stayed for about an hour and had some lunch with a friend there. Honestly, it’s a tiny country and there’s not much there but it was the first time I’d visited, and it gave me such a buzz being somewhere new.

If I’m honest, I find getting downtime the most difficult of these. I’ve learnt that if I truly want downtime, I need to be apart from my phone. It’s too easy to check emails, get a call and get dragged back into a workspace mentally. When I take time to just be with my thoughts, without external pressures, it’s truly refreshing.

I have three children aged 11-15 years so family time looks very different to how it did a few years ago. Each season of life brings its challenges and its joys. We have friends that enjoy going camping with their kids, yet for us that would be a nightmare. Find what works for your family and how you can connect and have fun together.

Whatever season you’re in right now, take stock of your life and see if you can identify the presence of P.D.F. Maybe country walks are your downtime, or perhaps sport is your playtime. Are you missing one element which leaves you feeling out of balance? Planning P.D.F. into your life on a regular basis helps to maintain a healthy balance in every season and leaves you feeling like life is worth living!

Consultant and Trainer MCM

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