I think that many of us have struggled with the idea of work-life balance. If you think about some of the archetypal images of balance, a tightrope walker holding a long pole horizontally across their body over a ravine, two children on a playground seesaw or an old fashioned set of scales measuring the ingredients for a cake, they all show how precarious balance looks and how much work is involved in keeping things even and steady.
Balance is hard work and it suggests a quest for an equilibrium that is not natural. It also suggest that work and life are mutually exclusive, and if we have learnt one thing from lockdown it is that work and life are anything but mutually exclusive, especially as a working parent. With work life balance the assumption is that when one is high the other is low. If you are smashing it at work, there is a price to pay at home. Or if you are deeply connecting with your children and making fairy cakes at 3p.m. on a weekday afternoon your work will suffer.
I propose that we drop the language of work life balance and introduce the language of flexibility. Most of the parents that we coach are not seeking to work less but to have more choice and power over where and when they do that work. They are seeking to be more deliberate and about where they choose to put their time and energy and they need employers who will enable that.