Are you struggling to balance a growing career while you raise your family?
You're not alone. These days, more than two-fifths of all families have two working parents.
This means both parents will be faced with the task of thriving in the workplace and still being a present and hands-on mother and father.
While this can feel like a lot to manage, it's also important to remember that parents with passions outside of their children and a fulfilling job tend to be happier at home. And with the growing cost of living, a steady income can also help stabilize the household.
But how do you manage both work and home life without becoming overwhelmed and exhausted?
Read on for 7 ways to strike a balance between work and family.
1. Stick to a Schedule
You calendar meetings and conference calls so why not calendar your kids? This may sound a little over the top but if it's in your schedule, you're more likely to stick to it.
Build time into your daily schedule to have one on one time with your children.
This can be at mealtime, thirty minutes of scheduled play, or a bath and book before bedtime. The time you choose to spend with them can also vary throughout the week depending on your other commitments and your availability.
But building these moments into a calendar releases you from the stress of having to take time to find the time.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes it's about quality, not quantity. So even if the amount of time you've scheduled feels minimal, it can still be more meaningful because you'll be completely focused on our child and free of distraction from work or the outside world.
2. Establish Boundaries
There are very few jobs that really require you to be on call and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
If your job allows, set a boundary by making it clear to your coworkers and boss or employees that between certain hours, you are not available for work-related items.
This means not answering calls or replying to emails. Essentially, taking a break from the screens so you can focus on family time.
Once this boundary is set, it's pretty easy to stick to since you've communicated to your team that this is the new normal. They won't have the expectation to hear from you or receive a response and you won't have that nagging urge to check your phone or computer every few minutes.
3. Ask for Help
You can't do it all on your own. The fastest way to become stressed and overwhelmed is to bite off more than you can chew.
Having a strong support system around you and asking for help when it's needed is a great way to alleviate stress and allow for more of a balanced lifestyle.
Asking for help can be done both at work and at home.
For example, if there are items at the office you can delegate to others or ask for help from your team on, don't hesitate to do so. Don't be the person at work who volunteers to take on more responsibility if you already have too much on your plate.
At home, ask your partner for help with items you feel take away from your focus on either work or the kids.
Other ways to receive help from those around you is to have a babysitter, neighbor, or family member who can step in and pick up your child from school or watch him or her for a few hours occasionally.
If you get held up at work or have a deadline you need to focus on, this assistance can give you the peace of mind that your child is spending quality time with someone who genuinely cares about them.
4. Have a Special Day or Night
If you can, have a weekly or at least monthly day or evening that is special for your kids. This is something they can look forward to and can also be talked about as an exciting activity as the date approaches.
This could mean anything from a special meal out at a favorite restaurant to a movie night at home or a day at the zoo or aquarium. You can also keep things interesting by giving them the chance to select from a few options each time.
Not only does this type of quality time make your child feel special, but it also gives you the comfort of knowing there is a chunk of time you'll spend with him or her.
This can stop you from feeling guilty about late nights at the office or work trips and time away.
5. Leave Work at Work
We already mentioned the need for boundaries when it comes to working from home or answering phones and emails while with the family. But there's another component to making this work; don't constantly talk about work.
You may feel the urge to come home and vent about your day or run ideas by your partner while at the dinner table with your kids. Sometimes this has to be done but if it's possible, try to keep topics away from work and the stresses associated with it.
This type of conversation will only keep you in the mental state of "office time" and keep you from really connecting and engaging with your kids about the deeper things.
6. Get Organized
Keeping both your work life and home life organized is an integral part of feeling balanced and stress-free.
Make it a point to keep your office at work clean and clutter-free. Be sure items make it into your calendar and that you aren't drowning under piles of papers or documents.
The same goes for organization at home.
Create a chore chart that your family members can help out with; giving children a task and a reward once completed. This can include things from taking out the trash to making their beds and picking up their toys after play.
Keeping your spaces tidy and organized will keep you from having to clean up during your free moments and also allow you to feel calm and centered.
7. Take "You" Time
It's often said that you can't really take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself.
Through all the madness, try to carve out time to recharge alone. This could be anything from taking a bath to going on a walk to taking a yoga class.
If your time is really limited, try just taking a 10-minute break and walking around during the workday, stretching at your desk or watching a funny video online for a quick laugh.
Take a look at what kind of time off is afforded to you at work and take advantage of it. Many employers offer personal days or Family and Medical Leave. What is FMLA? Read more about this program to learn your options.
Balance Work and Family Today
With the tools above, you're on your way to finding the right balance between work and family.
Don't be too hard on yourself. Part of finding this balance is also accepting that it may not always work and letting go of the expectation that things have to be in a perfect flow at all times.
That's just another way to stress yourself out!
Be sure to check out the rest of our site for more information on ways to achieve your dream career.