If you’re a mum who works, or even a woman of a certain age, chances are there’s one elusive term on your mind: work-life balance.
The once broad phrase has narrowed to refer to how a mum manages to separate her work and kids and spend an equal amount of time and energy on each ensuring her life is perfectly balanced and therefore perfect.
There’s just one problem of course – it’s far, far easier said than done and according to a certain Mamamia founder, complete bullsh*t.
Working mum-of-two Suzy Watson tends to agree that work-life balance is an unhelpful term and has a far different approach to working and raising kids.
Her philosophy? Instead of trying to separate the two important aspects of her life, she actually works to merge them together. She calls work-life integration.
As Suzy told Mamamia, "Balance implies these things are in opposition, I don’t think they need to be."
"People spend such a lot of time investing in careers and businesses, why segregate that?"
Suzy, who is expecting her third child, said right from when she first entered the workforce she never saw any reason to separate her work and home life, often socialising with co-workers and talking about work with her family. But it was five years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child and she, her husband and their co-founder started their business, Intersective.
"I had a dream baby, Caprica, who used to come in with me to the co-working space, The Hub and she became 'The Hub Bub'," she said.
"The start-up was picking up the pace and I didn’t want to have miss out on all her first-year milestones.
"In the end, I didn’t have to. It took planning, modern gadgets, an amazing mother-in-law and a refresh on why people shut kids away from 'work'."
Listen: Leigh Sales chats to Mia about why balance isn't possible. (Post continues after audio.)
Like most women, Suzy is an expert multi-tasker and said her day-to-day life involves her combining things where possible. She also believes it's helpful for her children to exposed to work from an early age.
"Integration is more than just work. It’s about taking the girls to the park for, not just playing, but exercise for me and taking the girls to antenatal appointments so they get familiar with doctors and not just when they are sick or need shots.
"There are a whole raft of ‘life’ activities that children get sheltered from and I think that contributes to people not developing life skills or work ethics."
Another way the entrepreneur combines her work with child care is through "playdate meetings" - when she takes her kids along and ask the person she's meeting to do the same.
"We work a lot with creatives and universities and these are sectors that have a reasonably high proportion of families and people working something other than the 9-5."
"These sorts of meetings tend to be more ideation rather than contract negotiation.
"But there is no reason why you can’t workshop an idea with a friend and client over a latte in a park."
'Everyone has a life outside work'
Not everyone Suzy has run into professionally, has been so open-minded.
"It happens all the time - it tends to be younger single men, but not exclusively. It's just simpler to brush it off and try a different tact with close-minded people."
For the most part, though, her approach to work and her personal life has been appreciated and she encouraged other businesses to allow their employees to take a flexible approach where possible.
"These sorts of measures don’t just benefit working mum. Everyone has a life outside work that doesn’t necessarily stick to 9-5.
"A great place to start is a conversation that goes “Hey you’re a talented team member, what can we do to make this work?' Specifically, remote working, flexible hours, job share, paid gender-neutral parental leave, short-term small scope contract pieces for talented people looking to stay in touch with work.