I am cocooned in guilt. I feel guilty when I leave my toddler to come back to school for Open House or the school play. I feel guilty when I forego the homecoming football game in favor of spending time with my family. I want to be more active in professional organization, but worry that I won’t be able to fulfill my commitments.
School librarians are, of course, not the only ones dealing with the balance of life and work. Nor is it simply parents who struggle to find balance. We all have friends, hobbies, and professional commitments outside of our day to day work in our libraries. For example, a recent NPR piece pointed out that Millenials are particularly adamant about maintaining work-life balance having seen their parents work and work only to have it taken away by the recent economic situation. As teen librarians, we have the added stress of trying to help our patrons who may be struggling through weighty issues.
Clearly, we are all feeling the push and pull. Yet the typical advice given often won’t work for librarians. The NPR story touted the benefits of telecommuting, something difficult for librarians whose jobs are typically tied to a place. Or how about the suggestion “Learn how to say no”? We are a profession that prides itself on always saying yes.
So as I go back to work, I wonder how to maintain balance, to continue to do my best possible work all day, and still have some emotional, intellectual, and physical energy left for my family, my friends, and my writing at the end of the day.
I’ve done some poking around, and found a great set of articles at LISCareers.com that cover the stresses of our jobs, working with new children, and the stress of not work. Reading that others are going through the same thing as me is helpful, and I’d welcome more concrete suggestions. I don’t imagine that anyone has it all figured out, but please share any tips – or your own struggles – in the comments.