From Balance to Blend: How I Manage Being a High Performing Employee and a Caretaker at Home

Over the past two years, my life has undergone transformations that have challenged and enriched me in ways I could never have anticipated. These transformations have created a desire for me to explore how to achieve a much-needed work/life balance.

Two years ago, I pivoted my professional life for a career opportunity in a field that offered me a fresh start with the opportunity to advance. I quickly found myself immersed in work that I am deeply passionate about, focusing on organizational wellness. This new role filled my professional life with purpose and drive.

As time passed, my dedication to my work was recognized, leading to the gradual addition of more responsibilities. I welcomed these new challenges with open arms, as my fascination with understanding human behavior and organizational dynamics only deepened. It was an exciting and fulfilling period in my professional life, and I relished the opportunities that came my way.

excited about work

If you’re anything like me, you are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well, there was an unexpected twist waiting for me. My younger sister suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, which left her in need of additional care and support several years ago. Recently she began living with me and my wife, and I took on managing her healthcare (I’m writing this from the surgery waiting room as she undergoes one of possibly 3 upcoming surgeries). This development brought about a shift in my life’s priorities and obligations.

Balancing the demands of my career with the responsibility of overseeing my sister’s healthcare needs was not without its challenges. I often felt overwhelmed by the competing demands on my time and energy. I struggled to find the right balance between my professional commitments and my personal responsibilities.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was managing my guilt. I felt guilty for leaving my sister alone while I was at work – be it our home office or onsite. I also felt guilty for not being able to give my work my full attention. It took time and effort to learn to let go of my guilt and accept that I couldn’t be everything to everyone all the time.

Another challenge I faced was the stigma associated with caregiving. Many people don’t understand what it’s like to care for a disabled sibling. They assume that it’s easy or that I’m doing it because I must. But the truth is, managing another adult’s care is a demanding and often thankless job. It requires a lot of patience, compassion, and resilience.

Despite the challenges, I was determined to find a way to achieve a work/life balance that worked for me and my family. I realized that this meant blending the two rather than trying to keep them separate. I needed to find a work/life blend, not a work/life balance.

work life balance


Here are a Few Things I Learned Along the Way

    Communication is key. 

    I had open and honest conversations with my director about my work/life blend needs. She was understanding and supportive, and she worked with me to develop a flexible work arrangement that allowed me to meet my professional and personal obligations.

    It’s okay to ask for help. 

    I learned that I couldn’t do everything on my own. I relied on my wife, family, and friends for support. I also reached out to a few healthcare colleagues for advice and guidance.

    It’s important to take care of myself. 

    I made sure to schedule time for self-care activities, such as exercise, reflection/meditation, and spending time with loved ones. This helped me to stay physically and mentally healthy, which was essential for managing the demands of my work/life blend.

    Over time, I learned to find a work/life blend that worked for me and my family. It wasn’t always easy, but it was possible. I realized that it is not about finding the perfect balance. Rather, it is about finding ways to integrate work and personal life in a way that promotes fulfillment and happiness.

    Today, as I sit in the hospital waiting room, I am anxious, but I am also hopeful. I know that she is in good hands, and I am grateful for the support of my family and friends. I am also grateful for the work/life blend that I have been able to create. It allows me to be there for my sister when she needs me most without sacrificing my career aspirations.

    I have learned that achieving a work/life blend is ongoing and requires constant reflection and adjustment. However, it is a journey that is well worth taking. By finding ways to integrate work and personal life in a way that promotes fulfillment and happiness, I’ve been able to create a more fulfilling existence.

    It’s also important to note that being a mother isn’t the only commitment that can be a hurdle for your career path. Many people have other commitments, such as caring for a disabled family member, or managing a chronic illness, etc. These commitments can make it difficult to achieve a work/life balance, but it is possible with careful planning and support from your employer.

    employee and caretaker

    Additional Tips

      Be realistic about your expectations. 

      It is important to be realistic about what you can and cannot achieve in a given day or week. Don’t be afraid to say no to new commitments, especially if you are already feeling overwhelmed.

      Streamline tasks. 

      If you can delegate, outsource, automate, or otherwise streamline tasks, do it. This can free up your time and energy so that you can focus on the things that are most important to you.

      Take breaks. 

      It is important to take breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Get up and move around, or step outside for some fresh air. Taking breaks will help you to stay focused and productive.

      Be flexible. 

      Things don’t always go according to plan, especially when you are managing multiple commitments. Be prepared to adjust your work/life balance as needed.

      Build a support network. 

      Surround yourself with people who understand your situation and who can offer support and encouragement. This may include your family, friends, colleagues, or other caregivers.

      It is also important to remember that you are not alone. Many people struggle to achieve a work/life balance or blend, especially those with other commitments. There are resources available to help you, such as employee assistance programs and support groups for caregivers. You can also ask your employer about flexible work arrangements.

      Achieving a work/life balance or blend takes time, effort, and flexibility and is worth the effort. I hope my tips help! Remember to find your support network – you aren’t alone! It is important to be kind to yourself. There will be days when you feel like you are not doing enough at work or at home. That is okay. Just pick yourself up and try again the next day. You are doing the best you can, and that is enough.

      Thank you for reading this article.

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      I’d love to hear your thoughts!

      Valerie Minor, MS

      Valerie Minor, MS

      Wellness Promoter

      Presently, Valerie works in the organizational wellness field and pursues writing in her free time for sites such as Introvert, Dear, 911der Women, Inc., Medium, Girlboss Burnbook, and her own newsletter, inkWell, blending her passion for writing, her different experiences of workplace culture, and her dedication to the well-being of individuals and organizations. Through writing and storytelling, she endeavors to demonstrate that through sharing these stories, we can build a community where everyone belongs and no one feels alone.