Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

When family trumps work.

Today, I am back to work from a surreal week as we accompanied my beloved father-in-law through his dying process. It’s interesting how during these times, there’s no question about where our priorities lie. Regardless of what needs my business or clients may have had, for several days, my priorities were clear. I needed to be fully present with my loved ones.

As I re-enter my work today, I’m reminded that perhaps it’s most important to remember that there may be times in our lives when family should be trumping work under less dire circumstances. Whether it’s attending a child’s or grandchild’s sports event, or tending to a relationship that may need some special attention, or simply taking off early to spend time with a parent or loved one in need, we have opportunities every day to revisit and keep straight, our most valued priorities.

In closing today, I’ll share a saying I have hanging up on my office wall: Take a deep breath. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.


  Michele Heine wrote @

I completely agree that it’s important to have a good work/life balance. I would not want to work someplace that doesn’t value its employees home life. Sometimes work will trump family events but sometimes it will be the other way around. People need to stand up for their rights on this topic.

  Fran Brockmyre wrote @

Well said, Donna. Family is what life is all about and why we work in the first place.

  Sheila wrote @

I recently had the opportunity to hear Donna speak at my place of employment. I have to say, this is a topic i’m currently struggling with as being a single mother with no support from my childrens’ father. I work full-time and have two young children, ages 3 and 4. When my children become ill, i find it extremely difficult and stressful knowing I can’t be in both places at once. Obviously, I choose to stay home with my sick baby. I feel family comes first. Although, my fear is that I leave the burden to my co-worker during this time and let down my employer. Maybe it’s just my assumptions, although I don’t want to quit my job either. It’s a problem i’m sure i’m not the only one facing in this day in age, as many of the people in my generation are becoming single parent families. Any advise one could give me would be wonderful. 🙂 Donna talked to us about goal setting and I enjoyed it very much. Maybe I need a goal Ttys. -Sheila

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Hi Sheila, and thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the program. I enjoyed it too.

I can very much relate to your post as I was a single mom for 6 years when my children were very young. And like you, I felt the stress and palpable pressure when work and my children needed me simultaneously. There were times when the choice was tough, and others where I clearly knew where I needed to be—like when they were very ill.

Here are a few ideas that may be helpful.

You may want to consider having a conversation with your manager and your co-workers—during a time when you’re NOT pressured—and share your concerns about the times when this happens. Ask your manager what his/her expectations might be when you need to be at home or attend a personal activity for your children. Be prepared to offer some recommendations for how you might do your best to anticipate and be sure your work is covered when this happens.

When you talk with co-workers, ask them what they might appreciate when you find yourself in this situation. For example, might they like to talk with you personally to get some guidance on what will be crucial to cover for you, versus what they can put off until your return? Could you offer your availability if they find themselves in a similar situation, or simply need help with something?

I know it doesn’t alleviate the pressure, but having a dialogue about expectations with your manager and among your team may help improve your comfort level, and clarify expectations all around.

I share this with you assuming that you’re a dedicated employee and that you’re present and give 100% (or more) every day. Hopefully, if you’re at work giving your best, when unavoidable situations arise that take you away from the office, you’ll get the support you need.

This is far from a comprehensive solution, but I hope it offers some food for thought. Good luck!

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