Is there such a thing as work / life balance?

I have spent the last 25 years in busy Product Development Manager roles whilst bringing up 2 children, running a house and supporting my husband in his career. Dashing from factory trials to parents evening or rushing home from customer meetings to Christmas plays became the norm.  Inevitably this is stressful and brings with it a sense of guilt that I'm not performing any of my roles as well as I could.  But mainly there are just not enough hours in the day, and I come bottom of the list!

So, what's to be done?  Part time working helps, as long as you don't end up doing a full time job in hours you aren't paid for.  The only other option is to outsource.  I started with childcare for school pickups, then employing someone to do my cleaning and ironing.  No one wants to spend their precious weekends doing chores, but this is often what happens.  I used to moan "I need a wife!", someone who can get stuff done at home, take the car to the garage, be in for tradespeople, organise the holiday, go to the bank and so much more.

The concierge industry in not a new phenomenon, particularly in London, but in rural Berkshire it's big news. We have a higher proportion of people working more than 49 hours per week (16.1% vs 14.6% in the rest of the South East) with 74.4% of women in West Berkshire in employment*.  And we need help!

I have founded a business called Berkshire Lifestyle Concierge to do just that. I will be focussing on household management, event planning, travel organisation and relocation assistance. So why should you outsource to a concierge? To give you more time to do the things you really want to do. To reduce stress and guilt.  To get more things done, a bit like having a clone of yourself! And because some things will never get done if you don't get help.

The level of help you can afford depends on your budget.  As a rule of thumb, as we move up the career ladder we earn more money, but then have less time to enjoy it. What value do you put on your precious time? When your schedule is overloaded and you feel you're on a hamster wheel, it's time to outsource to a concierge. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you time. What would you do if you had more of it?

I would welcome your feedback on how you balance your own work/life situation.

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*West Berkshire Council's most recent 2013 District Profile