Juggling work and life without being miserable is one of the biggest challenges many of us face. Sandra Kaji-O’Grady ponders how to do it.

In universities I’ve encountered numerous programs designed to support women’s careers in academia. I’m aware that some of the big architectural practices also engage consultancies to run programs on leadership and teamwork. But none of these programs seem to address the stuff that I really struggle with, which is loosely around how to work full-time yet have a life beyond, a life not made miserable by the demands of work.

In Australia’s cities, two-income families are now the norm, yet there’s no simple way to do this without going mad. I’ve found the best advice comes from other women and is essentially pragmatic. When I asked a colleague how she managed to have a successful career and be a parent of school-age twins, without hesitation or further elaboration, she replied “Dinner Ladies. I’ll send you their address.” I’m now addicted to hearty affordable dinners delivered freshly cooked each Wednesday. It’s a booming business set up by a couple of mothers of school-age children who have witnessed the frantic pace of the families around them. I know other women who have their own strategies for getting by – tailored suiting, car-pooling, live-in au pairs, pet-free apartment living, swimming during lunch break, generous grandparents, et cetera. How do you do it?