How to balance work and family time?
At all stages in life, whether you are a young professional or already at the peak of your career, something we all seek is balance.
Sometimes this is hard to achieve, due to certain circumstances such as demanding jobs, travelling for work, odd hours. There are however a few things we can do to help prevent exhaustion in our professional life with impact on the personal one.
Here are some tips for ensuring you have a good balance and you get a change to do the job you love while allocating enough time for the people you love.
1. Set priorities
Some people feel good when going 100 miles and hour. Others lack energy while trying to be everything to everyone. You want to have a successful career, have a healthy relationship, be an active parent. All of these things take time and energy and sometimes can run into conflict with each other.
We only have 24h in a day and to ensure the best use of our time we should think of our values and establish priorities. For example, if you want to spend more time with your partner, make sure every day you allocate some time just for the two of you, without any distractions like phones or tv.
This stage is one of the most important to allocate time and see how best to distribute it between your priorities. Starting your week fresh and organised will give you more energy and motivation. Take some time on Sunday or even Friday evening to go through the list of tasks for the following week and schedule time for each activity.
To help with the personal planning, try to schedule and prepare your meals in advance. You can use the freezer to store them for longer. Meal planning can be a fun activity you can do with your family - decide on some yummy dishes everyone would enjoy and head out shopping together. This would take the pressure off the cook, allow you to spend time with the family, help you save precious time during the week and dedicate it to other fun activities.
Find a person to help you with tasks - at work and at home. Building that extra support is very important to prevent burnout. If you have family available to help you with chores around the house ask them to lend a hand. If you don’t, don’t hesitate to ask friends or neighbours. If you have kids, liaise with co-workers or other parents at school who could help you when you are unavailable, such as offering a drive back from school, babysitting or chaperoning for outdoor activities.
There is no shame in sharing tasks with other families. Everyone might be facing time pressures and joining in to cover for each other offers the time flexibility and created relationships. For more tips on that check out my efficiency post on delegation.
4. Limit after-hours activities
This applies to families with and without children. If you want to spend more time with your partner, allocate some time in the evening or organise an activity together. If you have kids, try sending them to after-school activities but in a limited number. One mistake parents make is trying to send their kids to 5-6 different activities - football, tennis, dance, rugby, play date with other kids, judo, horse riding and so on. Children have enough energy to handle a lot but this would limit their time with you as well as the focus they put in each activity. Again, focus on your values and set your priorities. Consider what you and your family can manage now and what you may be able to do at a future stage in your life. Learn to say “no” and let go of the guilt.
5. Build rituals
Friday movie nights or Sunday pizzas are little traditions you can implement with your family to spend quality time together.
6. Involve your kids in your work
Although you might not be able to explain in specialist terms what you do, show your kids how important work is for you. Talk to them about what you do and show them your workplace. They might be more inclined to share your values if you involve them in that part of your life.
7. Time for fun
Live. Laugh. Love. Repeat.
Work is one part of you and it’s important to enjoy all aspects of life. Look for opportunities to enjoy life both at home and at work.
8. Make time for yourself
Taking care of yourself is very important. 10-15 for yourself a day for a facial, or a mani-pedi every couple of weeks is time women cherish. When you go for your next personal appointment, completely disconnect from your phone and relax your mind, focusing on your present. Live in the moment and appreciate time with yourself.
9. Make time for couple
Having family time is important, but still having couple time after kids is as important. Spend some time together when the kids are out,
10. Be there when it matters
“Family above all!” It is really important to be there for the special moments . To have the time flexibility to share the important events with your loved ones. No matter how stressful your job is, or how many challenges you are facing, an afternoon playing games, watching a soccer game or teaching your kids how to swim will make all that stress disappear.
Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot! Find yours!