10 Work-Life Balance Tips for Working Parents
Rock your roles at work and at home with these easy ways to improve your work-life balance.
Work-life balance: Does it really exist? Some days, the idea of finding balance is downright laughable. How do you possibly perform at work and engage at home without burning out? It's doable, says Dr. Laura Markham, creator of Aha! Parenting and author of the book "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids." Markham, who specializes in teaching parents to connect with their kids so that circumstances (like the morning departure) are less turbulent, says not to worry. She suggests that by simply changing the way you approach things, you can find more balance in your life.
Here are 10 tips that every working parent can use to find some better work-life balance:
- Remain Calm When You Leave for Work
"Of course you feel sad when you separate," says Markham. "Don't be embarrassed. Nature designed you that way!" But remember, process those feelings away from your child, so that she sees you leaving calmly. This will create less stress for her, which will ease your worry at work.
- Stay Connected With Your Caregivers
Keep tabs on your family while you're at the office. Create a private network where you, nanny, Daddy and grandparents can share pictures, videos and memories. This also helps answer any questions that come up during the day.
- Keep in Touch With Friends
Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you can't make time for your friends. Use your commute to talk on the phone with a friend or a favorite relative. This way, you can go deep on something other than work or kids with another adult for a few minutes a day.
- Leave the Office at the Office
It seems obvious, but when you're at the office, try to attack tasks efficiently so that you can leave on time at the end of the day. The quicker and more confidently you can detach from work, the more time you'll have to engage with your family at home.
- Set Realistic Play Expectations
Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting, suggests regularly playing with your child, filling her "emotional fuel tank" so that there's something there to draw upon when you're working. This helps a great deal, since one of the primary stressors on a working parent is the thought of their child's needs not being met. Cohen recommends incorporating a planned play session into each day, so kids know you'll play with them. "That can help tide them over during the times when you are not there or when you are preoccupied with other things," he says.
- Use Your Vacation Time Wisely
Using your vacation time to attend weddings, funerals and everything in between can eat into valuable family time. Learn how to say "no" to smaller events that take you away from the office. This way, you and your family can take vacations regularly to enjoy only one another.
- Get Help When You Need It
If chores are cutting into "you" time, consider outsourcing the job. Ask your family to pitch in, set up meal shares or car pools with friends, or search for a professional housekeeper to keep things tidy.
- Anticipate Curve Balls
Prepare plans for last-minute fiascoes like school closures, nanny cancellations or a kid with a cold. With a game plan in place, minor emergencies won't throw your whole week out of whack.
- Take Advantage of Time With Your Kids
"Think about how you can connect with your child more while you're moving through the routine together," Markham suggests. If mornings are always a frenzy, use the car ride to school to connect with your kids instead of tuning out to the radio.
- Take Care of Yourself
Making time for yourself is just as important as making time for your work and family. Read a book, take a walk, soak in the tub -- do whatever will make you feel your best. Trade evening television programs for this time if necessary, or schedule it into your calendar. Make it as nonnegotiable as your other commitments. Whether at home or at work, you're at your best when you're happy.
For more tips, check out 10 Hidden Benefits Your Company Might Offer.
Bethany Johnson, a professional writer from Washington DC, specializes in the quirks of family life and relationships. When she's not writing, Bethany and her husband raise both free-range chickens and free-range children on their organic farm in the suburbs.