In the run up to International Women's Day, four of our people explain how they create a better balance in their work and professional lives and why it's important to do so.
Associate Diana Rodriguez talks about juggling work and family life while studying.
06 March 2019
The work-life learning curve
For the past four years, I’ve been balancing family life with full-time work and studying for the GDL, LPC and CILEx exams to qualify as a solicitor. Managing it all has been a challenge and a very big learning experience.
The nature of our business means we are evaluated by the units of time we actually spend working so there can be pressure to work long hours. It may sound counterintuitive, but having to leave the office to pick up my children actually helped me set boundaries around the working day and find the time to study. Basically, I’ve been able to divide my family, work and study responsibilities into separate boxes.
I start work early while my husband does the morning school run, then I take care of after-school activities. If I haven't managed to finish my work during my core hours or when I've had exams to revise for, I come back to the office for a couple of hours in the evening or at the weekend. My husband and I divide childcare and household chores pretty evenly.
I think the hardest part for me wasn’t how to fit everything in, but how to do so without feeling stressed by the competing demands of work, study and family.
In the beginning, I approached my studies as though I was a full-time student, doing every piece of homework, while at the same time trying to prove myself at work and not wanting home life to slide. To be honest, this was exhausting.
I had to learn to accept that it’s not possible to approach each of these demands with the same intensity all of the time. Being ‘good enough’ as a mother, employee and student most of the time is actually all you need.
One key thing I learned is that it's really important to make time for the things you want to do. In my first year at Mourant, I used holidays as study leave and barely found time to pick up a novel. I've realised there’s always going to be more work or studying to do – if you wait until you get to the end of it before doing the fun stuff, you’ll never do the fun stuff!
Now I make sure I go to life-drawing classes, and a few days a week I run and swim at lunchtime. The demands of work, study and family can easily flow around these pockets of time.
It definitely helps that I feel trusted to get my work done. The pressures on all of us – from exams, family or otherwise – are constantly changing and I think that trust, and a little leeway at key moments, relieves a lot of anxiety about the work-life balancing act.