Knowing how to balance work-life and family time doesn't just happen - and it doesn't happen easily. It takes a profound amount of work, practice, patience, awareness, communication and will.
You need to set goals, remind yourself constantly, and right your wrongs. It's being mindful that your life decisions have a direct affect on those around you. When it comes to work and family, you're a member of two teams to which you're expected to perform.
My husband and I use a “football team” analogy when referring to our family. We live by a code - a way of life. We approach everything together and we help those around us to get things done. We rely on each other. It's something I'm proud of even if others find it unorthodox or just plain silly. And it's a philosophy I use with my career. I work with a team, and we rely on one another to get the job done. It's not always perfect, but it works.
This philosophy has helped guide me into making sure I make time for both work and family. Understanding when to shut it off and pick it back up. If you're having difficulty balancing your career and family, here are a few tips to help:
Communicate & Organize
Communication is vital to every relationship, work or family. You need to communicate your schedule, your stresses and feelings to get the job done. We keep a calendar at home which allows us to see when my husband will be traveling, when he's coming home, when I have a meeting and when the kids have an important school function. It allows us the opportunity to communicate our schedules, so we can be sure not to overlap family time with work and vise versa.
At work, we have a scheduling system that allows me to pace out my week and accomplish my tasks and goals during the workweek. If I'm falling behind or need assistance, I reach out to my team and let them know of any delays or ask if they can help get the task done. If I get stressed and/or overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, I analyze the situation, determine what I can change and openly communicate with team members other problems that need to be resolved.
And we all have days where we just want to vent. But be mindful. Limit your complaining about work when you're home. I make it a point not discuss work before bed. I might vent within the first 10 minutes of being home, but then I shut it down. At work, I try to leave home at home. It's not always possible, but keeping a good balance helps me stay focused and in my routine.
Don't Shame Yourself
Just because you can't juggle 20 tasks at once doesn't mean you're a failure. It means you’re human. Don't shame yourself into believing you're doing a poor job at work or in your relationships just because you can't get it all done. There's no such things as multi-talking, and if you keep thinking there is, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
At one time, I believed I had to be the mother, the housewife, the full-time career woman, the nursemaid and a psychologist, among others. More-or-less, a superhero. But it's impossible to be all of them at once. Give yourself a chance to breath. To sit back, relax and focus on one thing at a time. You'll feel more accomplished and better able to manage your workload.
Turn It Off
When you get home, do you check your email? Keep working? Tweet? A majority of us do. I've done it. But you need to be aware that you have limited time with your family. You've been away from them all day. It's time to relax and enjoy time at home.
It seems as though no one takes the time to talk and really get to know one another anymore. It's easier to send a text and just go-go-go.
Try shutting off your phone. Sit down together and enjoy dinner. Have a conversation. Play a board game or watch a movie. Go for a walk. Just because you’re not working extreme hours and living out of your office doesn’t mean you’re not dedicated to your craft or passionate about what you do. It means you care enough about your career and your team to make sure you have a clear mind and positive attitude in order to get the job done.
It will be a struggle at first, but once it's become a part of your routine, you'll find your stress levels will go down, and you'll have much more fun.
It's important to make yourself happy. You're in the middle of trying to balance work and family. But you're no use to either if you're not happy. Personally, I enjoy yoga, meditating and reading. Making time to do each of these items allows me time to decompress, clear my mind and rest.
Sometimes, I can't have 5 minutes alone. My kids have an open door policy. If the door isn't locked, they're going to open it. So, to make it easier on me and to help us maintain a positive relationship, I've invited them to meditate and do yoga with me. We now have something else in common which has helped strengthen our relationship - and I still get to do what I like to do.
Keep in mind, the work-family relationship isn't perfect. You're going to have disagreements, arguments and you're going to have moments where you feel defeated. The key is to acknowledge the problem, analyze it to see how you can make it better, be proactive, be patient and push ahead. If something doesn't work, adjust it to make it work. Just don't give up.
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