Creating a work-family balance often feels like trying to find a mystical unicorn. Is it even possible? Giving your full attention to all realms of your universe is a definite challenge, but there are methods to help you figure out how to balance work and family life. Take the time to think about your current life balance. How can you create a healthy balance so everybody gets what they need?
Create Realistic Goals
So you are going to become a firm partner, give every room in your home a Pinterest makeover, be the second-grade room mom, and make a home-cooked meal five nights a week? Lofty goals are great, but if you set the bar too high, the fall and fail is a doozy on your self-esteem and your ego. You need to create realistic goals for your home life and your job.
By creating realistic goals for both the home and work environment, you are setting yourself up for success, and everyone wants to feel at least a little successful in how they are spending their waking hours. Part of being realistic is knowing that you can't be perfect, no matter how magnificent of a balancing act you conjure up. Instead of becoming frustrated and stressed over not reaching a goal, know that this is life, and embracing the stress and leaning into it is likely more beneficial than wishing it away.
Identify Your Priorities
What are your priorities? Both your work and family lives should have a clear set of realistic priorities. Really know what is most important to you, and put those items at the top of your absolute MUST list. If making it to your kid's soccer games is something you need to do to make your child feel loved and supported, then make sure your work knows that these evenings with your kids are a top priority. If it is essential to make the weekly Tuesday morning meeting at work, then this becomes a top work priority, and you need to find some help to fill in for you at home during these hours.
Each realm of your life will have top priorities, and they can change over time. Know what they are, make sure others in your home and work life know what they are, and analyze what makes you happy and successful.
Learn the Art of Doing Things in Advance
When you are becoming the busiest person on the planet, you need to be proactive instead of reactive. Anticipate what will need to be done at work and home and learn to do certain things in advance. If you know that your boss will ask you to write up notes from a meeting and send them out in a company-wide email, create a template that makes this task run more smoothly each week. If your kids have soccer practice on Wednesdays in the early evening, prepare a meal the night before so you aren't rushing to make dinner, and have uniforms washed and packed ahead of time. If you have to travel at the end of the month, plan out rides and activities for your children so no one is left scrambling when you leave town for a work function.
Plan, plan, and plan, people.
Enlist the Help of Others
The term "it takes a village" exists for a reason. It really does take an army of people to make the world go round, so stop trying to do everything on your own and find people to help make life easier. Know who you can rely on at work and learn how to delegate when necessary. The inability to hand the reins over at your job can increase the chances of you burning out. This applies to home life as well. Have a solid group of mom friends to come to your rescue in a pinch, and call on family when you need an extra pair of hands. Be willing to return the favor when you can; and make sure you are always appreciative of the helpers in your life.
Establish Boundaries Between Your Worlds
Boundaries are healthy, and they remind you that it is okay to say no to certain things. There always comes a time when work puts a ton on your plate, and while you want to prove your worth and take as much on as humanly possible, the family sometimes pays the price for your ambition. By establishing boundaries between work and family, you will be more able to give everyone what they need, although not necessarily what they want. Have blocks of time in the evening where you do not check email or respond to work texts. Clearly communicate with supervisors when you are not available outside of business hours.
Your family needs to understand boundaries, too, especially if you work from home. If you are in a meeting, then you are not available to build a LEGO set. If you are meeting a work deadline, crafting projects and their rides to friends' houses get put on pause.
Be Careful Over-scheduling Yourself and Know Your Limits
If you are the type of person who goes full speed ahead in whatever you choose to do, be careful with over-scheduling, and know your personal limits. If you get run down, then the whole ship is at risk of sinking. Have a calendar readily available and check it often. Are you piling on more than you can manage? Will going at this speed turn you into a zombie by the weekend? Slow down, take on what you can manage, and know when to tell yourself, "Nope. That task isn't possible this week," or "I have too much going on right now, so I need to pass on this one." You don't want to become stretched so thin that you are doing a subpar job in all facets of your life.
Make a Work and Family Weekly To-Do List
Parents who work and raise kids need to learn to make a good To-Do list. Heck, make a couple of them! Have a daily To-Do list with the day's priorities, a work To-Do list, a home To-Do list, and a weekly To-Do list. Depending on how you organize your life, you might only have one list with work and home tasks on it, or you might have a few lists going. Let this be the command center for the Must-Do items required of you. Writing items on a list moves them out of your brain. You have enough stuff swirling around in there. Don't try to keep your To-Do list up there as well.
Hold Weekly Check-Ins With Loved Ones
You hold weekly meetings with your boss and your work team, so why not hold them with your team at home? Be sure to sit down with your family and check-in. Discuss what is going on with everyone and what is coming down the pipes. Are there baseball tryouts taking place soon? A science project due in the next few weeks or a sleepover party that might be happening? How is everyone feeling? Are the needs of your family members being met? Sometimes you have to straight-up ask everyone where they are at in life. Communicating openly and clearly with your family is essential for everyone's well-being.
Hack It When You Can
When possible, hack it through life. Short cuts are beautiful ways to make both work and family life more manageable. Anyone who has a demanding job and a family will tell you the key to balance and success is to work smarter, not harder. Utilize every possible life hack you can get your hands on. Try them out and keep the ones that work for your family. Whatever makes home life easier, mornings more manageable, and work-life streamlined is going to be your ace in the hole.
Make Time to Breathe
You are important. People need you. Work needs you, your family needs you, and with so many constant demands sitting on your ever-capable shoulders, it's a wonder you can remain standing by the day's end! When balancing a busy family and a career, be sure to make time for yourself. Discover what gives you calmness and inner peace, and make the time to take care of yourself. Whether it is daily meditation or a monthly mom's night out, find what brings you back to center so you can be your best self for your family and your colleagues.
Aim for Happiness
The goal in achieving life balance is to find the structure that makes you and your family happy. Stressing about trying to create a solid work/family balance will only make the task more difficult. Trying simple and achievable ways to create the right balance for you and your situation can help make each day more fulfilling.