The transition between life and work - confessions of a commuting single mum

Alison Best




National Work Life Week is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance. Employers can use the week to provide activities for staff, and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices

When it comes to balancing work and life, the commute is the pinch point.  Life to work to life.  And repeat.  The transition can be the most stressful bit.  It's a feat of compromise, timing and logistics for many.   And the process can be murder...

Can't leave before the childcare arrives... c'mon; c'mon; c'mon... Finally! "Have a lovely day darlings..." And I'm out of there.  I just make the last train that will get me there on time.  

But then, it's not moving.   5... 10... 20 minutes pass.  I've checked the watch twenty times.  Do you know the feeling?  The sense of rising panic? And quite frankly the fact that someone wants to "apologise for any inconvenience this may cause" is not helping.  

For me, it probably says something that the anxiety is worse when it’s the client who might be let down when it happens on my way to work than it is if I'm late for the kids on the way back home.  But that’s because ‘Plan B’ is more easily implemented for the kids - the back-up is on standby. Don’t get me wrong - there’s still guilt.  How many times can you say “thank you” and “so very sorry” in a phone call to the school friend's (clearly far better) parent? 

On the way in?  I've made the tube - but now there's an issue there too.  Time's getting short.  I abandon the Circle Line; leg it through the City.  Mainly I run for pleasure, but I have a sneaking suspicion when I engage in my supposedly recreational activity I am, in fact, subconsciously in training for these moments. Damn, I wish I hadn’t worn heels.  

Of course I am (ahem) completely composed and calm when I arrive at the client (on time).  (NB!! I've never actually been late for session in all the years I've done this stuff.  It's about building in the buffer zone and not using Southern Rail more than I have to!).  

It's my choice to arrange my work/life as I do.  But I am grateful that the people I work with understand what my balancing act means for me.   It can be a real challenge.  And sometimes, rarely, it feels like a shabby compromise.  

What are your people balancing to be at work, on time, delivering their best?  What did they have to do to make that commute? Everyone has a wider-life which has an impact.