Balancing your career with your family life can often be difficult. Both of these things are usually time-consuming and can also be emotionally and psychologically demanding.
That is not to say it is not worth it — but often the work that goes into maintaining a successful work life comes at the expense of your family life, and vice versa.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not just essential for your own wellbeing and mental health, but it can also be extremely important for your family and loved ones. Unfortunately, finding the right balance is a struggle for most working families.
So, what can you do to ensure that these two parts of your life are in harmony with each other? In this guide, we have detailed some top tips for balancing career and family.
Consider Your Priorities
There are only 24 hours in a day, and often many people and tasks are competing for our precious time. Whether it is your boss asking you to stay behind late or put in extra hours or your partner asking you to pick the kids up from school and grab some groceries on the way home, it can be overwhelming to try to fit all of these demands into one day.
Often these demands are entirely conflicting: there have been plenty of times that a boss has put pressure on me to put in hours over the weekend when my partner has asked me to go and have Sunday dinner with her family.
The first thing to remember is that you can’t please everyone all of the time. Consider what is really your main priority in life — you may be working hard burning the candle at both ends to save to move to a nicer house with your family, but is it necessarily worth it if the long hours are causing you to miss out on precious family time and jeopardize your relationship with them?
Plan a Weekly Schedule
With so many demands on our time and energy from both career and family, it can seem impossible to get everything done.
However, you may find that with some careful planning and a solid schedule, you can get a lot more done than you thought! Sticking to a timetable can eliminate that feeling of “what should I be doing right now” and getting overwhelmed by trying to multitask, which actually takes up a lot of time itself.
Get your partner and family involved in planning your schedule, so that time can be set aside for the things that are important to them.
Learn How to Say No
Putting limits on any out-of-hours work tasks can be an effective way of creating a division between work and family time. Once you have planned your schedule, do your best to stick to it, regardless of what additional demands people may try to ask of you.
If your boss asks you to stay at the office late on a Friday night when your schedule says Friday evenings are you and your partner’s date night, try to stay firm and not give in.
It can be very difficult to do this, as social and career pressures often make us feel like we have to be the one who “saves the day” at all times, regardless of how it affects us personally.
However, once you learn to let go of guilt, politely yet firmly saying “no” is an indispensable skill.
Negotiate flexible or reduced hours if needed
If you are working so hard that you are struggling to find time to spend with your family, it may be best to work fewer hours. If it is financially possible for you, why not consider going part-time?
While this would inevitably come with a pay cut, the increase in free time to spend with your family can be more than worth it.
If you are working overtime to afford the most expensive gifts for your partner and children, consider whether they may in fact rather have some quality time with you than have these things.
If going part-time at your current job is not possible, then why not consider a change of career that allows you to be more flexible, or even starting your own business? If you are interested in learning more about qualifications that can help you start a business, click here.
Consider arranging delegation of tasks
Having a support system at work can be highly effective at managing your time efficiently. If you work as part of a team, you may be able to arrange with other co-workers for them to take care of tasks that you cannot fit into your own schedule. This also applies to things like childcare.
if you need to stay behind late at work one evening, why not ask extended family members or other trusted friends to babysit or pick the kids up from school? However, when asking others to help with tasks, it is important to remember that you should be willing to do the same favors for them in return if needed.
Include family activities in your schedule
It can be frustratingly easy to get so carried away with work that you suddenly realize it has been months since you and your partner just sat down to watch a movie together, or you took your kids to the park.
Placing family activities in your schedule can ensure that precious family time happens on a regular basis. Why not plan a regular board games night with your family and date night with your partner? If doing this every week is unrealistic, you can schedule bi-weekly or monthly events.
Another surprisingly simple tip that can go a long way for your family relationships is to always eat dinner together at the table. No more microwave meals are eaten at your desk in your home office, while typing up a report with the other hand!
Don’t blame yourself
If you are struggling to meet either family or career obligations or expectations, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling bad about yourself. In today’s world, we are pressured from all angles to be relentlessly efficient, and overworking ourselves is often glorified.
While you burning yourself out may do wonders for your boss and the company profits, they don’t necessarily see the other side: the impact on your personal relationships.
Remember that you are worth more than just your productivity. After all, what’s the point building yourself a life if there is no-one to share it with?