The struggle for work-life balance for parents is often talked about in the context of not giving enough time to the family. How tragic it is when working hard (whether as an employee, employer, or entrepreneur) to not only make ends meet but to give your family an opportunity to define the kind of life you want for them impoverishes them. Studies show that the connection a child needs to feel with her or his parents' in order to open up and talk to them is cemented long before the teen years. It's no wonder why working parents are trying to find creative ways to earn a living and spend time with family.
What does it mean to have work-life balance? Let me pull the curtains back on this topic. Before children come on the scene the depiction of a struggle for work-life balance is seen. If truth be told life for most has been unmanageable prior to a partner and/or child/ren taking front stage. Now the desire and pressure to take care of the family needs validate for folks the need to have an extreme relationship with work.
Perhaps a better way forward is to set aside the struggle for work-life balance by making daily goals that will support the family financially and give the freedom to pause work and prioritize relationships in life.
Here are some tips I use to help me prioritize my family (child/ren and partner) with work:
- Communicate your current focus to people around you so that they are aware of what you value and make a priority.
- Set an alarm clock when you are in a work meeting to alert you that you should be wrapping it up so that you can be on time for your biggest client, your child/ren!
- Use your time at work efficiently. Work more socialize less. Small talks (in accordance with confidentiality policies) among colleagues (whether about the work or not and on breaks) can serve as beneficial especially if you are in a job that requires some debriefing now and then to keep you from burnout and to stay afloat. How about keeping work chats down to a minimum unless there is a critical work-related incident that calls for discussions among key players. For employees, refer to your Human Resource and/or the Ontario Ministry of Labour for specific laws about a meal and other breaks.
- Get to work on time so you can leave on time. For those of you who are not on the clock and have some flexibility with your hours, ensure that if you go into work later that this does not impede on your ability to make it on time for your child/ren's ____________ (mealtime, bedtime or other routines, or special occasions); unless of course you have a work emergency that arises at the ninth hour. In this case, special attention should be put on your child as soon as you can - communicate, listen to, and validate how they feel.
- If you have to work late some days, be sure to factor in ‘makeup dates’ with your child/ren. While consistency is important, you might not always be able to get home in time for bath time.
- Some employers offer flex schedules that allow employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times and have a day off in the alternating week. If you are eligible, consider taking advantage of this to where you will have more windows of opportunity to bond with your child/ren. Having a consistent flex day on Friday's enables you to have a long weekend every other week with an even longer one when a holiday falls on a Monday. Keep in mind that self-care activities are great ways to spend your flex days too as you need to stay healthy, as well as for your child/ren. You could even fit in a matinee movie date with your partner on your flex day provided they are also available! Childcare typically is a non-issue as children are likely to be in school and daycare during these hours.
- Take time to unwind. Leave work at work. Practicing mindfulness meditation is a good way to let go of burdens. Be present during conversations with loved ones when you arrive home. Enjoy their company and talk about each others' day.
- Obtain your child/ren's school and daycare schedules as early as possible and coincide these dates with vacation and other time off. Your child/ren's vacation schedule can dictate family vacation plans.
- Plan weekends together provided you are not scheduled to work. The mornings and evenings during the week provide some time together but the weekends is where the fun action begins!
- Have a day or part of the day ideally on weekends and holidays to be unproductive together. No alarms, phones, computers, or to do list. Sit back as a family laying around in bed and let the day come to you. It is time well spent!
- Assess that your direct work environment space is conducive to getting work done. Are you working hard or hardly working? A study has shown that it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you have been interrupted. Are you seated in a high traffic area that has constant distractions? Consider requesting a seat change if you are not in a private office space. It could be the difference that helps you to be efficient at work and home in time to your youngster(s) and partner.
- Procrastination is a habit that doesn't disappear when you are grown up and have children. It actually could be impeding your parenting influence. If you identify as a procrastinator consider seeking help from a life coach. You will be doing not only your employer a favor but as well yourself and your family. Schedule a 30-minutes complimentary call to find out how we can help you to prioritize what matters most!
Ladies dress: H&M
Ladies shoes: Nine West
Men's suit: RW&CO.
Kids dress: Indigo
Kids suit: H&M