How to Balance Work and Family

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Image via Katie Hurley

If you dare to mention your quest to find the ultimate work/family balance to your working mom friends, they will probably giggle in return. Balance? What's that?

Being a working mom can lead to feelings of guilt and stress. Divided attention between work and family can make it difficult to simply be in one place

.One of the most frequently asked questions in parenting, involves some version of the following: “How can I balance everything?” Trying to juggle being a mom with a working a full time (or part time … or work at home any amount of time) is no easy task. The other is always on your mind.With more moms than ever in the workforce right now, there is a lot of juggling happening in the life of the American family on any given day.

And while some moms seem to have it down to a science, the truth is that there is no way to do it all. You can't be everywhere at every moment and be focused on every little thing. That doesn't make you less of a mom or less dedicated to your job. The key is to strike a balance that works for you.

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Image via Flickr/ koalazymonkey

Make schedules.

You hear a lot about keeping kids on a schedule to help them thrive. When they have a schedule, they know what to do, where to be, and what happens next. It decreases childhood stress and increases self-confidence. The same goes for you.

Chances are you have a fairly consistent work schedule. You know when you need to be there, for how long, and what the expectations are while you're there. The trick is to schedule your family time.

You have to put family time into your weekly calendar in permanent ink, and stick to it. Whether you're out on a family adventure or staying home and baking cookies doesn't matter. That time is family time and work shouldn't interrupt it. Turn off the devices that let you know work is calling when you're in the midst of family time and you'll find that it's easier to focus.

It also helps to plan monthly 1:1 time with each child in advance. Schedule in a dinner date with your little one at his favorite restaurant, or a roller skating adventure for an afternoon and you'll both have something special on the books.

{ MORE: Pregnant and Fired: How to Deal When You Need to Find a New Job }

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Image via Flickr/ ragesoss

Do less.

Kids are involved in more extracurricular activities than ever before. From playing multiple sports per season, to music lessons, to sewing classes, there are pint-sized classes for just about everything these days, and parents are caving to the pressure.

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Do less. Your child doesn't need a sport and three classes after school and on the weekends. Your child might think she needs that super cool painting class that all of her friends just started, but she doesn't need it. It's up to you to model a sense of balance in the home, and that begins with teaching your kids about making choices.

When families do less overall, there is significantly less stress in the home. Busy mornings combined with driving around town from activity to activity all weekend long are a recipe for family stress.

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Find your tribe.

A strong support network is a huge factor in establishing balance. A large part of that guilt and stress you experience probably comes from not being able to be in two places at once. You can't be everywhere at once. It's impossible. Having a group of parents to count on and share the drive can decrease your stress level.

Find a group of supportive moms in your neighborhood, and from that proverbial village you keep hearing about. With a good schedule and solid support, balance will follow.

{ MORE: 4 Things That Totally Count When You’re a Mom }

How do you balance work and family?

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How to Balance Work and Family

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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