This week end we had a family party. A niece’s birthday combined with a father-in-laws birthday meant a one –sided family gathering.
As with many families, these times can be volatile. When the relatives on my wife’s side gather, any deviation from harmony makes me cringe. I feel awkward. I feel embarrassed. And I just want to make myself scarce,
You see at most gatherings, at some stage there is discussion revolving around money, upbringings or grand children. As the general discussion continues it generally leads to opinions (and I would never say ill-informed!). But these opinions lead to debates.
Materialising in front of me I can see a scene from TV’s most dysfunctional adult family, the Walkers from Brothers and Sisters.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure when my family gathers, my wife thinks a similar thing!
Nevertheless, when the volume of voices comes close to that of a jumbo and the pitch so high that the dog runs for cover, I think it is time I skulk off and hide in my office. With no real work agenda, I hope to hide behind a computer screen and miss the hand grenades being thrown across the lunch table.
Which got me thinking, when is it ok not to have a work-life balance. When can work take absolute precedence?
In no particular order (except maybe the first) here is when work should take priority:
- Family gatherings – see above;
- Your current partner wants to discuss why a former partner is now a client –bound to end in tears;
- As an adult you mum wants to take you shopping – will result in a cardigan or a dress she wanted to buy you for your 18th birthday but didn’t;
- A pay rise or job appraisal is imminent – make that great impression;
- There is a public transport strike or incident and you just had to go to work – nothing worse than joining the hoards on the road;
- Your child has a bad case of gastro – you don’t want to have clean it up and you don’t want it;
- It is your turn to cook dinner and you have the culinary skills of a caveman – I suggest you hunt and gather and keep out of the kitchen;
- The letter from the bank comes telling you the mortgage has just gone up – every bit helps;
- The family holiday is planned and you are leaving on Good Friday or Christmas Eve – go home late and maybe you can leave the following day.
There is never a good time to let work take priority of your family time. This is list is made in good humour and set to reinforce that communication with our families is critical for relationships and reducing stress. It may not feel like it in the short term but long term, you cannot beat communicating!