More and more families each year have both parents working full-time jobs, trying to strike a delicate balance between work and family. Nearly 40 percent of American homes have both parents working outside the home, which can lead to feelings of guilt and stress as we try hard to balance our professional aspirations with our family goals.
Finding ways to focus our energy, get organized, and formulate a plan will be key to striking that delicate balance that we need in order to feel successful and fulfilled. Here are some tips for a more well-rounded life:
Say Goodbye To Guilt
Rather than focusing on the time you are spending away from your children, shift to an attitude of gratitude that you can provide financially for the family and work toward long-term financial goals for them. Some families simply don't have the luxury of two incomes, so finding ways to spend and invest the extra money you do have will be beneficial for everyone.
Find Quality Childcare
There is nothing like peace of mind that comes with finding a childcare provider that you trust implicitly, but care like that is not easy to find. Do your homework, and start as early as possible. Talk to other parents and find out what their experiences have been, and look for someone who has a trusted track record of success. Whether you choose a daycare or a corporate center for your childcare needs, look for the proper certifications, and feel free to ask any questions you need to in order to feel better about leaving your children in their care. Communicate often with your childcare providers; regard yourselves as a team that is working to raise your children, so good communication with your daycare providers is essential.
Make Mornings Easier
Stressful mornings can set a negative tone for the entire day. Reduce the possibility of frazzled nerves, power struggles and shouting matches by getting organized the night before. Laying out clothes, packing bags, and preparing lunches will minimize the time that you do need to get everyone ready and out the door, and it will give you time to breathe as you think about your day. Stay calm, everyone, we're on the same team here!
Organize And Post A Family Calendar
Posting things like soccer practice, piano lessons, and doctor appointments will let everyone know what is coming up on the family schedule. There will be less chance that you will double book yourself, and you'll be able to plan recreational activities and downtime in ways that make sense. Color code types of activities for an even easier system to navigate, and your whole house will be running more smoothly.
Maintain Open Communication With Your Employer
Share your family situation with your employer, and find out if flexible scheduling is an option for you. You never know unless you ask, right? If your employer values your contributions to the organization, they will seek ways to keep you happy and fulfilled while still being able to tend to family obligations. Be upfront an honest about your needs, and maintain open communication as your situation and needs change.
Stay Connected During The Day
Communication with the kiddos does get easier as the kids get older, as you can text, email or call if needed. Asking daycare providers for updates throughout the day will allow you to feel more connected with your children and their daily experiences. When you are home doing chores on the weekends, put the baby in a baby carrier to connect and bond while getting work done around the house. Celebrate with them, console them, offer advice or whatever is needed to deepen and enrich your relationships, and you won't have to work as hard to re-establish that connection when you get home each night.
Limit Distractions And Time Wasters
Do you REALLY need to update your Facebook status right now? Can that email be answered after the kids go to bed? Reduce binge-watching your favorite television shows and let your partner know that you value your time together in the evenings. Use the time to brainstorm, reconnect, and make plans for everyone's future together. At work, limit social interactions with colleagues in favor of getting your work done so you don't have to take anything home with you. Making the most of your time during the day will reduce your stress and make you more present as a parent and as a partner.
Create Special Family Moments
Something as simple as a family breakfast on the weekend, an outing to a farmer's market, or game night will let everyone know that they are special and valued within the family. Ask everyone in the family for their input on how they would like to create this special time together, and look for ways to mix work and pleasure by doing family chores together too.
Work On That Parntership
You got into this together, you're in this together. You are creating this family structure together, so it's important to prioritize your relationship to make the whole family stronger. Reconnect and remind each other why you value each other, and look for ways to strengthen your relationship. After all, your kids will look to you for an example of how to relate to people in a healthy manner, it's important to demonstrate what a healthy and strong relationship is.
Take Time For Yourself!
No one can give to others if they are empty and running low on reserves--it is important to do nice things for yourself as well. Feed your soul--go for a walk, have a spa day, have lunch with friends. When your bucket is full, you can give to others in ways that do not deplete your own energy and spirit. Find out what you need, and then give it to yourself!
There are ways to balance work and family---but you have to work together. Communicating your plans to you all family members and then asking for their cooperation and support will be key to making sure that everyone is fulfilled and happy.