How Can Parents Find the Ideal Work-Life Balance?
May 3, 2013
Is it truly possible to be a devoted parent, a productive employee, a good friend, a loving husband or wife and a healthy, fit individual all at once? Unless you have been blessed with super-parent powers, odds are that you aren't perfect in every single aspect of your life.
It is not always easy to balance work and family life, especially with the rising number of working mothers, i.e. from 30% in 1970 to nearly 80%1 in the last few years. Here are some tips to help you spend quality time with your family and succeed at work, while making sure you don't wear yourself out.
Organization is the key to success!
Being well-prepared will help you manage the challenges of your daily routine (daycare, job, homework, dinner and bedtime) and become more productive:
- Write yourself a to-do list to make sure you don't forget anything, then, prioritize. Remember that it's impossible to get everything done at once.
- Plan a weekly activity schedule for all the members of your family. Try not to overload it.
- Plan or prepare your meals in advance to save time on weekdays. The SOS Cuisine website provides weekly meal plans and grocery lists that can be real life-savers.
- Freezing your leftovers is an easy and practical solution for meals on days when time is short.
- If you wish to exercise, why not pick an activity that the whole family will enjoy: swimming, skiing, hiking, etc. You'll stay in shape while spending quality time with your family.
Ask for help when you need it!
Becoming overwhelmed and exhausted is only normal if you try to do everything yourself and don't take any time to recharge your batteries.
- Always have a list of people ready to help you out in case of an emergency: friends, neighbours, parents, in-laws, babysitters, etc. This list will surely come in handy at some point in time.
- If you can afford it, hiring a maid could help you save much time that could be spent with your children instead. Otherwise, make sure all household chores are divided efficiently between you and your spouse (and even your older children). Managing chores efficiently will give your more time for family activities.
- Grandparents and godparents crave opportunities to spend time with the newest family member. Take advantage of this help, it will give you the chance to spend some time with your spouse or simply have some time for yourself.
Does your workplace offer flextime?
An increasing number of companies understand that in today's society, offering their employees a flexible work schedule is becoming a necessity.
- Flexible hours allow you to start and finish your workday earlier (or later), giving you the chance to adjust to your family obligations with more ease.
- The four-day week schedule could give you the opportunity to spend more time with your family. It is important to inquire about the applicable conditions: possibility of prolonged hours during the week, potential decrease in salary, etc.
- If the flexitime policy isn't one that your workplace has adopted yet, why not suggest your employer the option of a home-based work schedule? Present a fixed-schedule to your employer and explain the mutual benefits this solution could provide.
It's all a question of balance!
You don't have to be a super parent; you're an actual person with limits. Rather, try to balance the different aspects of your everyday life. Your whole family will be grateful.
- It's normal not to be able to get everything done and to cut some corners. Don't feel guilty, no one is perfect.
- Your family is one of your life's spheres and your work corresponds to another. It is important to determine the place each will hold in your daily life.
- When at work, give it your 100%, but when you get home, unwind and be available to your family 100%.
- Know your limits. The important thing is to feel good in every sphere of your life.
Finding an ideal work-life balance will not only have a positive effect on you, your spouse, friends, and especially your children will also all reap the benefits. You will definitely be more laid-back, confident and happy in all spheres of your life.
Here are some links that you may find useful:
Work Life Balance Quiz
Canada Business Network: Work Smarter - Find your Work-Life Balance
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Work-life balance
1 For mothers with children under 6 years of age. According to Statistics Canada.