Major: Political Science
It seems as though achieving a healthy work-life balance in today’s society is unattainable. Finding harmony between a demanding work schedule and a role as a mother, or juggling classwork, a social life and sleep as a student is exhausting. As highly motivated women with many goals, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
Meet Cara Gontarz Hume, one of our fellow female Crusaders, who has created a balance between her career and family that works for her. Hume is the Senior Human Resources Leader for General Electric Finance and has three children all under the age of five-years-old. With an executive career and three young kids, she asks herself a question that many struggle with, “Can I still work and be a great mom?” For Hume, the answer is yes. She has managed to be present as a mother while simultaneously progressing her career. She remembers going on maternity leave for the first time and how worrisome it was balancing her career with the vision of what it means to be a mom. However, when she sat down with her manager and explained her situation, he gave her the life changing advice of, “just leave early.” In that moment, Hume discovered that the keys to balancing her home life with her work life were setting priorities and not keeping her two lives separate from each other.
Hume recalls the once defined line between work and personal life: “I was taught, you keep work at work and home at home.” However, throughout her career, she has seen a change in this attitude to which she attributes much of her success. She explains that she brings her full self to work not hiding that she is a working mother with three young kids. She explains, “I will be there and deliver but I do carve out time for kids. I do not use them as an excuse or a limiting factor, just part of who I am.”
As a student at Holy Cross, she was able to develop her time management skills. Like many students on the Hill, she managed a schedule of rigorous courses, a competitive athletic schedule and a variety of other campus activities. The ingrained concept of Cura Personalis, or “care of the whole person,” is a mentality promoted at Holy Cross that has contributed to much of her success. Hume says she draws upon these ideas of caring for the mind, body, and soul as a foundation of her whole-self resulting in a better self.
Multiple priorities are hard to balance and this difficulty will never go away. Hume emphasizes the importance of setting parameters around prioritizing personal time. She says, “If you don’t set a framework for personal time you will burn out. And no one will set it for you.” Everyone has their own tips and tricks on how to balance commitments, but what has worked for Hume is making a habit of taking personal time. She advises, “Make an actual plan. Mark it on your calendar and block it off.” Mark off family dinner or gym time. Put drinks with friends in your calendar and stick with the designated schedule. Having personal time marked into the calendar will make it part of your routine, making it harder to let your personal time go by the way side. Additionally, she warns, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew and avoid the extremes.” Hume also recommends constantly turning inward for personal assessments. Nobody’s fulfillment plan will be the same so it is important to check in with yourself to make sure you are happy with the way life is going.
With the school year starting up soon and new projects beginning at work, try using Hume’s trick and mark your calendar with consistent “me time” to care for yourself. Happy balancing!