It’s hard enough making sure you’re doing your best at work. Let alone keeping half an eye on the people around you to make sure you’re not pulling their weight too.
So I always shudder when I hear the phrase;
“Can you finish this up? I have to pick up the kids.”
Look, I have absolutely nothing against people having family commitments. It’s very difficult to juggle caring responsibilities with a working day.
What I do object to is the assumption that I can pick up the slack. Because my life is less important.
Have you been in this situation?
You owe it to yourself to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing in your own time. This might mean
- Going to the gym
- Seeing friends
- Taking the time to cook a healthy dinner
- Going on a date
- … or any number of things that aren’t work
In fact it’s incredibly important for people without families to nurture caring and supportive relationships with their friends. We all need a supportive community and friendships are a vital part of that.
Of course, cover for others when they really need help. You’re not a total Scrooge. Just remember your personal time is precious whether or not you have children, or what age they are. Your life has its own worth regardless of someone else’s situation.
Just because there are no small children at home doesn’t mean you should consistently work longer hours or pick up someone else’s tasks.
Never assume someone else’s home life is less important than yours.
Working mums in particular hear a lot about the need to be strict with their work time. But don’t make that at the expense of someone else because their situation is different.
Try giving your colleagues some slack too. Letting them leave a little early for something they’ll enjoy will go a long way when you need to leave early to pick up a sick child.
Let’s create an environment of mutual respect for each others’ lives. No matter what shape they take.
UPDATE: How timely! The BBC just published an article on exactly this. How To Say No At Work When You Don’t Have Kids