Updated: Apr 24, 2020
You’re in the depths of it all, trying to balance work and family life, not to mention your social life and own personal time. Life has never before been this busy for you, and sometimes you’re not sure how to come up for air. Your job is demanding, you are building up your career, and while you enjoy what you do, you just cannot seem to motivate yourself to go that extra mile anymore. Family life for you is chaotic, with daycare or school drop-offs and pick-ups, dinner to get ready, activities to get the kids to, and all of the house stuff to take care of. Desperately, you are looking for some answers about how to manage everything.
Strategies to help balance your work and family life do exist. I use the term “balance” because it’s just not possible to do it all, all of the time. Instead we need to shift our minds to embrace balance. Kind of like a teeter-totter, with work and family at either end, at any one time you may be more involved with work or more involved with family, but eventually it all balances out. Or at least you hope that it does.
Here are 4 ways to ensure that overall, you’re maintaining that balance:
1. Set Limits at Work
You can set a strict limit with yourself and your boss about how many hours a week you’re working, what time you come into work, and when you leave work. If you’re used to working 60 hours a week, coming in at 7am and leaving at 6pm, that leaves you little precious time for your family, spouse, or yourself.
Start making a small change, such as decreasing your working time to, say, 55 hours a week, working an hour less per day. Either leave work earlier or leave home later in the mornings. Use this extra hour to connect with your partner, kids, or yourself.
Limit the number of after-hours get togethers, especially the voluntary ones. Letting your boss and colleagues know of your shifting priorities ahead of time will help ease the peer pressure to continue on with your old ways and transition to your new schedule.
2. Pre-Plan Your Week
On Sunday, sit down with yourself and/or your partner and a detailed calendar. Go through every day, review each person’s schedule and obligations, and decide who is going to do what. Make sure both you and your partner have access to this calendar daily and can update each other easily with any last-minute changes.
This tactic ensures that you decrease the chaotic feeling and overall stress you experience when you’re not sure who is picking the kids up, what activity what kid has that night, or who is going to prepare dinner. By spending 5-10 minutes planning your week ahead, you will ease untold amounts of stress and chaos.
3. Say “No”
Empower yourself, and your family, to start saying “no” to things. It is ok to decline any and all social invitations during the week. It’s also fine to not sign up or volunteer for a school activity, charity event, or coworker celebration. You are shifting your priorities back to your family during your non-work hours, and by saying no you can enforce this.
It may be difficult at first to start saying “no”, but once you get used to it you will most likely feel calmer, more centered, and more connected to the ones you love most, your family. Spending time together doing nothing is sometimes more powerful and impactful than doing an activity together.
4. Set Aside Daily Personal Time
With more time now on your hands, you can start to prioritize yourself. You might have time to exercise, or read that book that’s been on your bedside table for months. You’ll have time to engage in stimulating conversation with your partner not just about the daily logistics of your life, but maybe sharing about your day or soliciting input about a challenging situation. You may just sit with your kid(s) and tell each other silly jokes, or pet your animal that hasn’t seen you all day. There are so many meaningful, intentional things we can g
o with our daily personal time.
Taking “me” time daily may seem selfish, especially since you have so little extra time. But in the long-run it will benefit not only you, but also your relationships, greatly.
Practice to Achieve Balance
While these 4 ways to balance work and family may seem simplistic, if you approach your own situation like you need to change something, these steps can be a guide for you in implementing change. It may take some practice and a longer timeline than you’re happy with, but the end result will be a happier you, a calmer family life, more connectedness with your partner and children, and even some extra time daily just for you
If you need more support and are interested in how therapy can help you or support you in balancing your work and family life, contact us at Catalyss Counseling for a free 20-minute phone consultation, or schedule an appointment online with one of our experienced therapists to get started bringing balance into your life.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, grief and loss, and addictions. Follow Catalyss Counseling on Facebook or LinkedIn.