Balancing Work and Family
No matter where you are in your career, parents have a tough time achieving balance between work and family. After devoting so much energy on the job, facing the demands of children and household tasks may be the last thing you want to do. However, thoughts like this just make you feel guilty. So what can you do to resolve this?
- Parents may feel a little better knowing that studies have shown that family factors influence children more than the time they spend in childcare. However, it is essential that a child spends their days away from mom and dad in a quality childcare setting. (For more information on quality childcare see PAL's "How do I choose a childcare program that is best for my child?").
- Evaluate how much it costs to work. Sometimes after adding up the cost of childcare, lunches, transportation, clothing and paying someone else to do all the household chores you no longer have time for, you may be going in the hole.
- Search out companies that are family friendly. Some companies have more liberal policies concerning employees with children. They may offer on-site childcare, generous benefit plans, paid maternity leave, flexible hours and college education grants.
- Although today's men have a more 'hands on' approach than dads in the past, a woman who works outside the home still takes care of 80% of the household chores! The ideal woman who can 'do it all' is a myth that only leads to exhaustion and burnout. Devise a plan that divides the workload more evenly and allows both parents time for hobbies and personal interests.
- Trade off childcare with another family so that mom and dad can get some time apart from the children. Go out on a date and renew that spark that oftentimes gets dulled by everyday responsibilities.
- Prioritize your schedule. So much of our time is spent doing things we dislike or that are actually unnecessary. Take an objective look at your weekly routines and learn to say 'no' when it is not in the best interest of the family.
- Build leisure time into your routine. If we don't make fun activities a priority and plan for them they won't just happen.
- Help children maintain a healthy balance in their lives also. Help them pick one or two activities that they REALLY want to pursue and let the others go.
- Make an effort to have family dinners together. This is a wonderful way to connect and share your lives.
- Meal-share with a friend or family member.
- Let go of responsibilities that your partner has agreed to take on. If you try to control to tightly your partner may feel as though you would rather do the chore yourself!
- Ask yourself, "Would this activity help me/my family be happier, healthier, or more productive?"