How to Balance Work and Family: Tips for Working ParentsNov 10, 2023
Balancing work and family is a struggle that almost every working parent can identify with. Trying to strike that balance can often feel completely overwhelming, too.
However, achieving the elusive work-life balance is not only possible, but it's also crucial for our overall well-being.
In this article, I'll provide practical and actionable tips to help you navigate the challenge of dividing your time between family and work. From setting clear priorities to mastering the art of utilizing your support network, each piece of advice is designed to help you take control over your time and energy as a working parent.
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
- Work Out Your Priorities
- Establish Clear Boundaries
- Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements
- Quality Time vs Quantity of Time
- Look After Your Well-Being
- Seek Support
- It's About Progress, Not Perfection
- Digital Parenting Expert
Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
Establishing a harmonious work-life balance in a short space of time may be unrealistic, and it's likely to add to the pressure you're already feeling.
Set achievable goals and give yourself a reasonable time frame for working towards them.
Work Out Your Priorities
To set realistic goals for managing work and family life, you'll need to work out what your priorities are.
Working out your values can help you prioritize your commitments at work and home. For example, if being present for your children is a core value, you can prioritize evenings for family time rather than extra work or overtime.
Establish Clear Boundaries
With working from home becoming the norm, it can be increasingly difficult to set clear boundaries between work and family life. Your emails are always at your fingertips, and so is that ever-increasing list of chores.
Establishing clear boundaries for work hours and family time can help you feel present and not spread thin between the two. This could look like blocking out time in your calendar for each. Alternatively, you could use a "do not disturb" setting on your work devices in the evenings to avoid the temptation of checking in.
Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements
Overall, workplaces have become more flexible than they used to be. If picking the kids up from school or making it to sports practice are priorities for you, you could try speaking to your employer and seeing if they'll allow you to work condensed hours or be flexible with start and finish times.
Quality Time vs Quantity of Time
It would be great to be there for your kids every moment possible, but this isn't always realistic for working parents. If work commitments are eating into your personal life, ensure that you're present when you are with your loved ones.
Create a family media agreement so everyone is committed to putting down their devices and spending quality time together.
Look After Your Well-Being
While being a caregiver and a working professional, it can be challenging to carve out time to prioritize yourself. Taking care of your well-being means you're more able to look after your family and keep up with work demands.
Self-care can look like ensuring you get some fresh air at lunchtime, finding time for a fitness class, or ensuring there's time in the week for what brings you joy.
When it comes to raising kids, the saying goes that "it takes a village." No matter how big or small your village is, don't be afraid to lean on your support network.
Whether it's sharing school pick-ups with a mom-friend, asking a relative to help with childcare a few days a week, or having an honest discussion with your partner about the support they can offer, it's important to ask for help when you need it.
Read my guide to mental health and parenting for more tips on what to do if you're struggling.
It's About Progress, Not Perfection
Remember, a work-life balance isn't a final destination. It's a process that will involve successes and the need to course-correct (just like the rest of family life).
By prioritizing your values, creating clear boundaries between work and family time, and seeking support where you need it, you've got the tools to get the balance right for you and your loved ones. Remember, it's not about perfection; it's about progress (and you're in charge of what that looks like for your family).
Digital Parenting Expert
Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov is an online safety advisor and digital parenting expert. Elizabeth offers coaching for parenting groups and organizations via events & workshops.
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