“I am stretched so thin – I do not have time to think what I need or what I want”

From time to time, we go back to our client’s to arrange focus groups and interviews to understand what are the challenges women face as working mums.

Being stretched too thin and feeling that their work/life is out of balance comes up almost every time we have these conversations.

One of the underlying values at Azkua is curiosity. So, we got to wondering: why so many women still struggle with their work/life balance?

There are numerous articles written about it.

Lots of advice.

And yet…we are still overwhelmed and there is no sign of this overwhelm going away.

With a closer look, we uncovered these 3 underlying reasons why we still might be struggling with this balancing act.


  1. You want to do everything at 100%


We have been raised on a mantra of doing a job well.

We take pride in giving our all as mothers, colleagues, friends, daughters, sisters, partners, members of the community.

Anything less than 100% in any of those areas makes us feel like we are failing.

But this is not how maths works: 100% of our energy and time, cannot be divided into another 100% percent for each area.

This drives us to exhaustion.


  1. Pleasure/Purpose Imbalance


In his book “Happiness by Design”, Paul Dolan asks us to notice the balance in our day, week, and month, between the tasks we do that give us pleasure versus the tasks that we find purposeful.

Try it for a week. The results might surprise you.

Often, we presume that if we focus on the tasks that we find purposeful, then we should feel energised and fulfilled by the end of the day.

However, what if we spend too much time on the tasks that are important but not necessarily energy inducing for us?

  • I do help my kids to get ready every morning. It is an important task for me. I know that it is also a purposeful task. I can see the bigger picture of it, but it is also one of the most energy draining parts of the day: getting them up, making sure they have everything they need to, trying to get them out of the house on time.
  • I used to have a client, who worked in a company where working long hours was seen as a badge of honour. Being part of the team was purposeful to her, so most evenings she stayed in the office till 8-9pm (to be part of the team), until eventually, she realized that she started to resent her work because of this culture of presenteeism.


Sometimes we have to do what we have to do. However, if most of our days are filled with “must” tasks we will struggle to sustain our energy in the long run.


  1. Not asking for what you need


When was the last time you aligned your needs with the things that you do?

In order for us to bring forth our best contribution, to flourish, we have needs that have to be met.

Our needs are unique to us, depending on our talents, our upbringing, the demands we might be having on us in any given moment.

Too often, instead of clearly identifying those needs for ourselves and then communicating them clearly to others, we expect (consciously and sometimes unconsciously) that others will guess what we need.

And more than that, once they have guessed those needs, they will jump through hoops to fulfill those needs.

And when they don’t, we just presume that they know what we need and CHOOSE not to help us. And what is our answer to that most of the time: go full on superwomen….at the end of the day, we have to do everything at 100% (back to point number one).


Which one of these might be hindering your work/life balance the most?

  • Do you feel you have to do everything 100%?
  • Do you end up spending most of your time on the “must” tasks, not the ones that also give you energy?
  • Do you expect others to guess your needs and then volunteer to fulfill them?

And if you are curious about what are the solutions for these 3 challenges then stay tuned for our blog next week, where we will explore what you can do to create sustainable balance.


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