What I’ve learnt about … finding balance

By Sarah Ryding | Dec 20, 16 11:56 AM

Sarah Ryding, 35, from Melbourne, talks work/family life.

I have two boys aged five and three. Both are in Kinder and daycare part time. I work full time, either in the office, our warehouse or from home.

If I’d written this five years ago, my answers would be very different. Today, I’m sitting at my five-year-old's gymnastics and while he’s off in his class, I’m on my laptop working – and I’d rather this circumstance now than having to take time later when we’re at home.

Years ago I read Dr Adam Fraser’s Third Space and it helped me understand how I can be present and focused in the two environments where I spend most of my time – home and work. 

I learnt focus is the key and I could spend valuable energy around the whole ‘feeling guilty’ thing, but I choose not to – it doesn’t help. It just adds a load to bear and we already have enough on our shoulders don’t we?

My husband Steve and I operate as a team. For us there has to be a consistent link between work and home life, and because we are focused on the environment we’ve built – which is one that is safe and full of love and support – we get to enjoy a rewarding career doing quality work while we care for and nurture our children and family networks.

I don’t consider the word compromise – I prefer balance because it’s what it really is for us. Nothing is 100% perfect at any time of any day, but that doesn’t’ mean we can’t tick all the boxes we aim to. Some might get marked off at a later time or maybe the task itself might change. Either way, we balance what needs to be done and we share tasks to give each other support when and where we need it.

Here’s the thing, though – no one can read my mind, so if I need support or someone to help me balance it all, I ask for it – and those I do ask know this of me.

I've had to let go of expecting that order leads to balance and that this in turn leads to perfection. Not so it seems! As an ex-control freak (I emphasise ‘ex’) I would get things done exactly when and how I wanted, but with this came undue pressure and sometimes unrealistic expectations that I couldn’t internally control the extent of.

There’s a difference between urgent and important, and while I prioritise urgency of tasks to timeliness of completion, importance is aligned to severity of outcome and Steve, the boys, health and wellbeing, and family and friendships are the most important.

Be honest.  If there’s something urgent or important that MUST be addressed, tell people what’s going on so they understand if you decline an invitation or can’t make a function because of commitments. This alleviates stress and pressure of trying to be all things to all people.

We work really hard and are who we are because of the people we have around us and with us. Our immediate families live interstate and since we’ve had the boys, we know what it means with the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a family’.

Our shopfitting business, i4 Design and Construction, is deadline driven, and family and friends know this and appreciate our need to focus on it when we do, and just as importantly how our boys and each other need focus and attention as a priority.

We live in a great community, and have nurturing and supportive friends. Our staff are like a second family to us and when we need them, or anyone from any of our support groups, we ask.

You can be your own worst critic, often I didn’t give myself enough credit for the achievements that had been made – or took enough time to celebrate them! Own each win, be present and enjoy the crazy ride!

Remember, life is a balance of holding on and letting go!

Photography: Cait Speldewinde

Hair and makeup: Tyla Miller Hair + MakeUp Stylist


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Helen Dawson
By Helen Dawson VIC | Jan 12, 2017, 08:41 PM

Great story Sarah, thanks for sharing. Reply

  • Sarah Ryding
    By Sarah Ryding VIC | Feb 12, 2017, 09:56 PM

    Thank you Helen!

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