Recalibrating Work-Life Balance: Taking Time to Disengage

July 8, 2014

Sending children away to summer camp gives this physician a unique opportunity to reassess her work-life balance.

What I am about to write may shock some of you. At least it has shocked some of our friends and acquaintances who look at me and my husband with a mixture of horror and awe. We sent our oldest three kids to overnight camp for four weeks this summer. None of them were forced to go - all had a choice and decided to spend that much time away from home. We visited them at the half-way mark. To be honest, we have friends and family that send their kids to overnight camp for up to eight weeks at a time. Overall, despite some homesickness, I think our kids enjoy the time at camp; the chance to try new things and the opportunity to make new friends.

My husband and I enter a strange state during those four weeks. We are left with one child and find ourselves having both the time and energy to play endless games and Legos. We are able to be more spontaneous and head to the pool or out for dinner with what feels like reckless abandon. There is so much less laundry generated that we run out of certain items of clothing before we gather enough dirty laundry to justify running the washing machine. We spend more time together, in part because the one remaining child, used to having siblings around, requires near-constant attention.

I miss our kids and am anxious to have them back home, but it is somewhat freeing and interesting to live life at a different pace for a few weeks. It allows me to see areas that I neglect out of busy-ness. It challenges me to use my time wisely because it is so precious. It grants me the ability to see life from a different perspective - something we are rarely afforded. That perspective helps me to develop more gratitude for being blessed with four children. It also helps me realize how much time and energy is spent corralling them.

Rarely do we get this type of change of pace and perspective. Yet, whenever we do, whether through a job change, life circumstance, illness, or conscious choice, it changes our view of where we are and what we're doing. Inevitably when we re-enter our old life, we make changes and adjustments. We attempt to recapture the best parts of our time away. We build on those new discoveries that we no longer wish to live without. We grow in the purposeful way we plan our lives.

So, if you get a chance to step out of your life for a moment, take it. Look around you and discover something you have forgotten about yourself, delight in something you haven't had time for, and learn what you can to make your life better.