5 Tips for Balancing Work and Family
Balancing a career and family can be difficult. As a working parent, you are called up to meet deadlines at work, care for your children, spend time with your spouse, and keep your home neat and orderly. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that can help you manage your time and keep your household running smoothly. Lesley Pyle, founder and president of the National Association of Home-Based Working Moms, recommends the following tips for maintaining an appropriate balance between work and family life:
- Develop and stick to a schedule. Decide what hours you will work and what hours you will have for yourself and your family. Try to stick to this plan. Use a time management planner with to-do lists to plan your day, prioritize your tasks, and keep you on track. Planning, preparation, and organization go a long way. You may want to go to bed earlier and rise earlier. Alex McCord of The Real Housewives of New York City usually wakes up early before the children are awake and organizes what she needs for the morning, either during this time or the night before, after they're in bed. During this time McCord gets school lunches packed in backpacks and clothes laid out.
- Make sure you plan for time with your kids as well as time with your spouse. “Quality matters most when it comes to the evening hours. If we stick to bedtime, we know we can give the boys our full attention until 8:30, then have a couple of hours to either spend time together or get leftover work accomplished,” says McCord. It is also important to carve out time for a couple of date nights with your spouse each month.
- Plan ahead for mealtimes. “Plan out your meals for the week ahead. Double your recipes and freeze meals for later use,” says Pyle. This cuts out a considerable amount of time and stress, and leaves more time to be spent with the family.
- Plan all of your errands, housework, and other personal responsibilities for one day of the week, if possible. In addition, delegate tasks to other family members who can pitch in.
- Take care of yourself. This is very important and not an easy task for most working moms, but it is essential. This means exercising, eating well, and taking time out to de-stress. Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, recommends exercise to alleviate anxiety and irritability and give you more energy. It also improves focus, so that you do not get distracted and can be more productive. In addition, breakfast is key. Make sure to have a balanced breakfast. Skipping breakfast is a recipe for irritability. Meditation and visualization are great tools for relieving stress. “Many of my clients like to meditate or visualize for five minutes in the morning – breathing deeply to one's natural rhythm with closed eyes, you imagine your favorite place using your five senses to feel, taste, and smell the fragrances. Then you give yourself a calming message you need to hear to get your day off to a great start. When you open your eyes, you feel like you had a mini vacation and are ready to deal with whatever comes your way,” says Debbie.
Finally, although work is important, make sure you aren't continually sacrificing time with your spouse or your children to work. If you feel that you are constantly over-extended or over-worked, recognize the areas in which you need help. You may need to hire a babysitter, a housekeeper, or ask for help from your family. And remember: You can only do so much in one day.