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'A good work-life balance is something we all need to think about'

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It has been a tough week: a challenging patient, a poorly child (mine) and my hormones being the culprits.

The ward doesn’t fall to pieces if I cannot go to work so why do I feel a sense of guilt when I have to stay at home as I need to look after my sick child?

I think it is because I do not want to put added workload on my nurse colleagues when they are already under pressure. And I don’t want to let my patients down and have to reschedule our appointments.

This week I needed to spend time with one of the more challenging patients who is finding life on the ward difficult following his transfer from a major trauma centre. Add my own hormones into the mix and there is a chance there could be tears before bedtime!

Juggling work and home life, whether you have children or not, can be tricky, especially in the nursing profession. We all know what it is like to pick up the extra work when a colleague is unable to come to work.

My partner says “the world won’t stop turning if you don’t go to work” but it is easy for him as he is an art director who can work from home if necessary and he does not have patients who need him.

Of course I know that my colleagues are very capable and can look after the challenging patient. But I also know that he needs me to talk him through his bladder management plan and instead I am juggling child care and feel like I am letting everyone down.

Being able to take a step back, set priorities and let go are skills that we all need but they are skills that I am not very good at and need to practice.

Having good support at work is essential for me and I’m lucky that I have a manager who is approachable, fair and understanding, so when I phone her in a panic she helps me to take a step back.

“Juggling to get a good work-life balance is a fine art”

I also have good relationships with my colleagues who I can hand things over to and they will rearrange appointments or take over for me.

My team know that I do not take time off lightly and I work hard so they are happy to step in on the rare occasions when I have to have time off with my children. As indeed I would for them.

Juggling to get a good work-life balance is a fine art and something we all need to think about. Many of us regularly work over our hours as there is always something more that we can do. Perhaps that is the point. There is always something to do in nursing – the job is never finished – which is why we have a team of nurses.

It is not all down to one person to do everything and while there are occasions where we cannot leave on time due to emergencies – the right balance is essential.

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