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Our life is a beautiful mess

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Giulia Jones is the CEO of Painaustralia, the peak advocacy body for people living with chronic pain conditions. Photo: Supplied
Giulia Jones is the CEO of Painaustralia, the peak advocacy body for people living with chronic pain conditions. Photo: SuppliedMOtherhood

By Giulia Jones 

Work-life balance balance is a loaded word.

It implies that things are in perfect order, that the scales are equal between family life and paid work life. The truth is far messier but also beautiful in its messiness.

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I remember when I had my first baby in 2006 and the thought I had over and over was that the women who worked the rice paddies of Asia for hundreds of years would have had a baby and strapped it on their backs and got on with life. Stopping to feed and marching forward.

I always was absolutely keen to be in paid work, and I wanted my work to count and be something I could look back on with satisfaction, so I set about the task of getting elected to parliament.

Now I absolutely understand that this is not everyone’s cup of tea or calling, but in my mind I was very clear about what I wanted.

It really stuck with me, and I worked out the ‘how’ step by step. I was a candidate for election three times and elected on the third time. I was then re-elected three times before deciding to step aside for health reasons.

I was elected at age 32 with four young children and had two more as a politician. It was very much like strapping the baby back on and heading to the rice paddy. My kids grew up with me on the election trail.

Some days it has been absolutely gruelling, but I expected nothing less in my life.

The keys to pursuing paid work and family in my experience are as follows:

Rely on grace and admit to God you can’t do it alone. This gave me the courage to do really hard things.

Give up on ANYTHING being perfect. A messy lounge room is common, messy bedrooms are a permanent reality.

Get your household into a rhythm you can maintain. Perhaps assign jobs for the kids, and see if the husband can run a decent part of the at-home tasks (mine does all the washing and a lot of the cooking).

Pick your battles. You can’t control everything if you are aiming for a big busy life, fight for your children’s character and honesty, not perfection.

Learn over time how to take care of yourself, even if like me it doesn’t come easy. It’s healthy to get a massage or meet someone for some exercise, or to binge watch a show that draws you away from the day-to-day cares.

And in all things remember your Father in heaven loves you and wants the best for you. In many ways we live in an era where women’s leadership matters a great deal. It is needed.

If you feel called to step up, one day you will stop to look back and see the most beautiful tapestry of life is unfolding and you have a great deal to be proud of and grateful for despite all the ups and downs that have come along the way.

Giulia Jones is the CEO of Painaustralia, the peak advocacy body for people living with chronic pain conditions. She is married to Bernard and is the mother of six children ages 18 down to six. Giulia was elected to the ACT Parliament in 2012 and served as the shadow minister for women, multicultural affairs, mental health, police and emergency services, corrections and was shadow minister for health during the pandemic. Giulia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2023 and is grateful to God for every day of good health now she is in remission.

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