The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Finding Work Life Balance in the Workplace
Are you a stressed out parent with too much to do, and too little time? In between packing for school, packing for work, meetings with teachers, meetings with your boss – is there ever time to simply relax and enjoy life?
There’s no doubt that parenting can be stressful, and while you can’t add more hours to the day, you can try to manage it better so that your time is spent wisely.
It’s not about being a supermom or dad; it’s about making sure you’re productive at work and spending quality time with your kids while at home – as opposed to catching up on chores or bringing work home with you constantly.
As the infographic below highlights, the struggle to balance work and family affects both men and women, almost equally. This may be because, according to government data, in the last decade more dads have become active caregivers at home, and more moms have become household breadwinners. While this is a win for equality, it also highlights that employers still have a fair way to go in keeping employees happy.
The Council of Economic Advisors have found a few other interesting facts when it comes to American families and work:
- Most children live in households where all parents work
- Women make up nearly half of today’s labor force
- Women are increasingly becoming the country’s most skilled workers
- Eldercare is a growing responsibility for workers
- Workplace flexibility and paid leave can strengthen the economy
While your workplace’s rules on flexible working can take time to change – remember, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. So start asking now, and who knows what the workplace might be like for when your kids are working.
But for now, there are still things you can do at home to help you manage your day. See the infographic below for some tips on managing your busy life.
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9 Work-Life Balance Tips For Busy Parents
Sometimes, 24 hours in a day just isn’t enough.
According to a time use survey by Pew Research Center:
Parents find child care more rewarding than paid work.
Activities rated ‘very meaningful’
- 62% Child care
- 59% Leisure
- 43% Housework
- 36% Paid work
However, they also find it the most exhausting activity of the day.
Activities rated ‘very tiring’
- 12% Childcare
- 7% Housework
- 5% Paid work
- 5% Leisure
Both moms and dads struggle when it comes to balancing work and family.
- 46% of dads
- 52% of moms
say that one of their daily stressors during the work day is child care needs.
With more moms being household breadwinners, and more dad becoming family caregivers – how can a better work-life balance for both parents be achieved?
How’s Your Balance?
- Do I sleep enough?
- Do I usually finish off my to-do lists?
- Do I do things for myself?
- Am I fulfilled?
If you answered NO to any of above, perhaps it’s time to bring your work-life equilibrium back into order.
How To Find A Better Balance
1. Be prepared the night before
Avoid the manic morning rush by getting organized the night before.
- Clean up the kitchen and have breakfast planned and prepped
- Lay out clothes, both for the kids and yourself
- Make packed lunches and have backpacks ready
2. Plan meals ahead
Enjoy healthy, home cooked meals throughout the week without having to invest weekday time to food prep.
On Sunday, either:
- Partially pre-cook and freeze dinners for the week ahead
- Prepare all your ingredients in advance
- Chop vegetables and pack them in proportions
- Make sauces
3. Utilize the Internet
Avoid the stressful combination of busy shops and restless kids.
Hop online to:
- Do your main grocery shopping – and just top up in-store throughout the week as required
- Research and read product reviews to save time looking around in shopping centers
- Pay bills and set up direct debits where possible
4. See if work can be flexible
Employers haven’t quite caught up with the needs of modern families.
49% of parents have chosen to pass up a job because it conflicted with family obligations
Tips on asking your boss:
- BE SPECIFIC: What are the hours you’re after, or place of work?
- BE POSITIVE: Sell your request – say it’s a way to make the most of your skillset, rather than to cop with stress
- BE REALISTIC: What will your new role and responsibilities be if you’re cutting down hours?
5. Make a family calendar
Not only will it help you keep on top of things, but it’ll also encourage kids to be more organized.
- Hang in a widely used place, such as the kitchen
- Include any family and school events, holidays, birthdays, and babysitter/carpool details
- Color code chores and events by family member
6. Leave work at work
Technology can often blur the line between work and family.
37% of parents find it hard to switch off from ‘work mode’ at home
If you do have to take work home with you:
- Turn off work email notifications from your phone when out of the office
- Avoid doing work on the same table you have family dinners
- Try to work in a closed off area of your house – this way, you can close the door on it mentally and physically when you’re done
7. Make ‘you’ time a priority
It’s not being selfish, it’s being human. Set aside one evening a week to do something you enjoy.
- Focus on quality, rather than quantity of time – if 30 minutes watching your favorite soap will help you relax, than go for it
- Schedule time to hang out with adults: a date night with your partner or a night out with friends
8. Divide and conquer
Let your partner help with your workload.
- Communicate your needs and work together to develop a routine that matches up with what you both enjoy doing
- Rethink your goals: a 50-50 split won’t necessarily suit both your commitments
- Don’t micromanage: as long as the job gets done, be happy
9. Give up on perfection
So what if your home’s a bit messy, or meals aren’t cooked from scratch every day. Life is too short to worry.
42% of mothers say they sometimes suffer from Pinterest stress – the worry they’re not creative or crafty enough.
- Set yourself a task and a deadline – if you get it done, move on, and don’t stress about perfectionism
- Be yourself and avoid comparing your efforts to others
- Let go of expectations – remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect life
Nowadays, there’s still this idea of motherhood as being a sacrifice. However, working is a way of growing both professionally and personally – which is important to acknowledge – both for moms and dads. – Agustina Gonzales Carman @ angulita
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