Most parents have full-time jobs in addition to the full-time responsibilities they have for their children. Many parents say that they struggle to maintain a balance between their work and home lives. Although it can be difficult to manage at times, parents are more likely to have lower stress and more quality time with their children as a result of that balance. Here are a few tips to find the right approach.
Set Boundaries Between Work and Home
Trying to do too many things at once can make parents feel like life is in disarray. Instead, you may want to set reasonable boundaries between your work and home life. Target your job search toward companies that can give you a set schedule from week to week. Avoid staying late or arriving early unless it is necessary. While you are at work, make sure you can focus with as few home-related distractions as possible. For example, an experienced marketing manager who works from home might want to create a home office that is exclusively for work.
If you feel overwhelmed by home responsibilities, it is a good idea to step back and see if you can find a more fair way to divide them. Everyone can share the load, even small children. Talk with your spouse about dividing responsibilities so that everyone gets quality time with the children and time for self-care. Trade off tasks that neither person enjoys, to minimize resentment over an annoying chore. If help is available from friends and family members, make use of it. Trading off in a carpool to school or asking grandparents to pick up children once or twice a week might give you a few extra hours.
Improve Time Management
No one wants to be a stressed parent arriving 30 minutes late to the work meeting or a child’s sports game, but you can avoid it. Time management can help you reduce the likelihood of these situations. Start by making a regular schedule that includes your work and family commitments. Be realistic about the time you need to get ready and commute, particularly if you have children in tow. Add a little extra time to accommodate for traffic, misplaced clothing items and forgotten errands. Evaluate your schedule every few weeks, and make changes as needed.
Many parents feel pressured to enroll their children in a lot of after-school programs, classes and activities. Although after-school daycare may be a necessity to meet the difference between the school schedule and the workday, you may want to minimize other regular activities. Signing up your children for too many sports or clubs can make it harder for you to do chores at home or enjoy unscheduled family time. Instead, choose one or two activities for your children per season. Look for options that reduce the amount of preparation or driving you must do in order to get to the activity.
Prioritize Family Time
Once parents finally get a free moment, they often look at the home and realize that they must attend to home responsibilities when they would rather be relaxing. For a better sense of balance, it is wise to make family time a priority. You must keep a generally tidy home and provide good food for your children, but there are many ways to achieve these goals. Scheduling regular cleaning services can help you keep high-traffic areas cleaner without taking your time. Ordering groceries for delivery can save you the trip and make more time for cooking. That way, when your children are home and awake, you can enjoy your time together without worrying about important tasks falling through the cracks.
Balancing life between being a parent and a full-time employee takes creativity, focus and the ability to adapt. By following these tips, you can make it easier to be productive while you are at work and more relaxed when you are at home. Be sure to read the accompanying resource for further information.
Author bio: Nicole Marie is Senior Content Executive at Michael Page, an international recruiting firm. Before joining the recruitment industry, she worked in media and journalism. She now covers employment trends and insights in a variety of industries such as construction, technology and marketing.