Last November at the pool show, I had a chat with Dustin Watters of Watters Aquatech Pools in Las Vegas. I listened to him talk about the industry, impressed by his passion and commitment to excellence, but then he said something that’s stayed with me these past few months. He said the best part of his job was seeing the excited little faces of his client’s children pressed up against the window as they watched the progress of their pool being built. How wonderful and fulfilling it was to know that something he built would be enjoyed throughout their childhood!

That comment recently came to mind because transitioning into my new role at Pool & Spa News has been hard on my family, particularly on my 5-year-old son. I didn’t fully discern how my late hours were affecting him until he plaintively asked if I would just stay with him instead of going to Atlantic City, N.J.

In that moment, I realized that, as difficult as it seems at this point in my career, it’s vital to develop a better work/life balance.

The term “work/life balance” has been a popular buzzword for many years, but the issue has become more critical with the rise of mobile technology. Today’s devices make it almost impossible not to blur the lines between job and family: Who hasn’t slept with their smartphone nearby so they can check email first thing in the morning? The fact that it’s an ongoing hot topic indicates the challenge it poses.

Challenging? Yes. Impossible? I don’t think so.

I took a hard look at the limited time I have with my son, and I’ve realized that for about half of it, I’m multitasking — responding to email, on a call, reading an article. I realized that the first thing I need to do is put away the smartphone and give him my full attention.

As it turns out, my son got his wish because the threat of winter storm Juno prevented many PSN staff members, myself included, from traveling to Atlantic City. Though I was disappointed to miss the opportunity to meet the folks in the industry, the joy in my son’s eyes when I told him I’d be staying home with him reminded me of those shining, happy faces that inspired Dustin Watters.

All across the country, there are families relying on their pools to help boost the “life” part of the work/life balance. After all, it’s really hard to splash around with your child and email a division president at the same time. When it comes to our products, “life” usually wins. And that’s a great thing.