The Art of Balance: Managing Your Work and Family Life

The Art of Balance: Managing Your Work and Family Life

In the average day, most working parents are forced to choose between numerous priorities that fill their schedule.  However, as you may have found, there are days when 24 hours isn’t enough time to meet all these demands and you find yourself pulled in different directions.  Do you miss date night so you can work late to make your son’s basketball game tomorrow or do miss your daughter’s dance recital to work late so you can spend the whole weekend with your family?  We are all busy and unfortunately something usually gets pushed aside to accommodate for a more pressing matter.  Keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to balance and time management, but with a few tips and a little creativity on your part, you can create the ultimate plan to balancing all your priorities.

Schedule, Schedule, and Schedule Some More

While you might want to live life flying by the seat of your pants, keeping it exciting and spontaneous, this is not always realistic for busy people.  If you already know what your priorities are, get organized by penciling things into your calendar.  You might not be able to make every soccer game, recital, or your partner’s work events, but with a little scheduling you will be more aware of how your time is spent and won’t let one thing overtake another.  If you don’t already, you and your partner can sync and color coordinate your calendars to make scheduling a little easier.

Set Boundaries 

If you’ve taken the time to schedule events, set boundaries to maintain the promises you set.  If you have dinner scheduled with the family and your boss needs you to stay late, ask if you can come to the office early.  Make sure you are not compromising one priority for another by setting limits.  It’s okay to tell someone “no.”  If you are not in jeopardy of losing your job, it’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate a plan with your boss.  And while you would like to make every school event and extracurricular activity, you children can learn a valuable lesson in compromise, as long as you are not missing every parent-teacher conference or sporting event.

If Possible, Compartmentalize

This may not always be easy, but try to leave the office at the office and your family life at home.  Kids get sick, work emails need to be responded to immediately, and phone calls need to be answered.  However, to stay focused on work tasks, try to avoid texting your partner or answering unnecessary personal emails or phone calls.  Not only will this help you stay focused on work tasks, it may also help you get home to your family a little faster because you won’t be stuck at the office finishing a time-sensitive project.  On the flip side, while you are at home, be present with your family.  Give them your full attention by avoiding bringing work home.

Take Advantage of Home Delivery

A lot of grocery stores have started home delivery services.  This also holds true for other services as well.  If you have the means, spend a little extra money to have someone complete activities that eat up your time.  Hire someone to mow the lawn or clean the house to free up some time.

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Find ways to combine activities.  Turn cooking dinner into a family bonding activity or have a working lunch so you can leave early to make your child’s school play.  By combining activities, you can give yourself a little extra time in your day.

Don’t Skimp on Self-Care

To be at your best at work, for your partner, and children, remember to take care of yourself.  Maybe you wake up an hour before the kids get up to enjoy a cup of coffee and read a book or you and your partner switch off days so one of your can go to the gym.  Whatever it is, make sure you are taking some time for yourself so you are able to be present at work and with your family.

As I said before, there isn’t a single approach to creating a more balanced life.  However, by having awareness of how your time is spent, you can start equalizing your priorities so one does not overtake another.

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they’ve always wanted.

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