If had to name the biggest struggle of my day-to-day life, it would be work-life balance. For parents, this is especially hard. I’m responsible for running my business, managing my household, taking care of my children (and dog). Then there’s self-care, family, friends, and the list goes on and on. For years, finding time for yourself is something that other people do.
It might be the same for you. Do you get enough sleep? Do you finish your to-do lists every day? Do you find time to do the things you enjoy? Do you spend enough quality time with your children? Do you feel fulfilled?
I’d love to say that I’ve conquered this battle, but I really think it’s a never-ending process for most of us. That isn’t to say there aren’t ways to achieve a work life balance for parents. We can have it all. These five tips can aid in the process.
Work Life Balance for Parents: 5 Tips
Get Your Schedule Together
I have at least a half a dozen half empty planners in my office. Well-meaning, I buy them, start writing in them, and then stop. I’m a free-thinker by nature, not an organizer, which has lead to issues with balance in the past. I’ve come to accept this about myself and always look for ways to improve.
One way to start is by creating a routine. Having a consistent pattern of when and how things are done makes life a lot less stressful. You won’t have to worry about dinner because you’ll already have it taken care of (spaghetti on Tuesday, fish on Fridays).
So if your child plays T-ball every Tuesday and your daughter goes to dance on Thursdays, put this on the family calendar as well. Work events can be listed as well so everyone is in the ‘loop’.
Homework and study time should be scheduled in as well. For example, you might work on assignments with them for 30 minutes and then have them use an interactive math program for another 30 minutes. Doing this daily can make study time much easier.
Once you have routine practices, you can use them to draft a household calendar. That way, there is no way to forget important events going on, or at least no excuse.
Leave Work at Work
Somehow, in all our prosperity, work hours seem to be lengthening. Worse than that – the line between work and home life begins to grey. Constant emails and phone calls can interrupt your home life more than you care to admit.
So, start leaving your work at work. You may be hesitant to cut down on your hours spent looking at emails, but why do you work in the first place? Is it to work more? Or is it to provide for the life you, and your family, wants to live?
You can do this by going back to your routine and setting exact work hours. Make it a rule that you don’t check emails after X PM. Other tips:
- Turn off work notifications during family time
- Avoid doing work from the bed or the dinner table
- Create a transition routine
- Prioritize sleep over work
Do whatever it takes to carve out work life balance for parents.
Setting time aside
We often fall into the trap of thinking that time to talk with our significant others, hanging out with our kids, and finishing projects around the home will spontaneously appear.
Here’s the hard truth: you will never be able to have enough time unless you plan it into your schedule. The good news is that it’s not hard to avoid this problem! If you get into the habit of blocking out time during your day, or outright scheduling out your entire day, you will be able to create time to do more of the things you genuinely want to do.
Learn to delegate
The thing about the internet is that it is a double-edged sword. On one side, it can waste hours with distracting and useless content; on the other, it can save you tons of time and money. The key is learning to use it properly. Many services can help you to complete, or even complete for you, tasks and chores.
Take buying groceries for example, you most likely live in an area that offers delivery services, do not wait any longer to sign up for these services! With a minor fee, these delivery services can save you an hour or more of your time every time you need to refill on groceries. That’s an hour more of spending quality time with your kid – and not at the grocery store.
A few more examples of successful delegation can be house and yard work, repair services, etc. Think how valuable your time is, now consider how many hours you would sink into doing something you don’t want to do. Is it then worth it to pay someone else to do the work for you?
This strategy is especially useful when considering putting your kids to work with a few chores if you are okay with a lower quality of work – then a few bucks here and there is an excellent investment for your sanity.
Don’t forget about yourself
As a parent, everything you do must be for your kids is continuously drilled into your head– but that doesn’t always have to be true. In the age of go-go-go, you can’t forget about yourself. This is the most essential point on this list because ignoring your wants and needs can lead to burnouts, breakdowns, and depression.
Creating alone time where you can do something you are passionate about is essential to keeping happy and healthy. Whether it be a sport, an art, reading a good book, a side project – it doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s something you care about.
I know it can seem overwhelming to have to succeed at work, be a great parent, stay healthy, and get things done – but know no one is perfect. A few mistakes here and there don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, do the best you can, that is all that matters.