In recent decades, it has become more and more common for primary caregivers to have careers outside of the home, whether through necessity or personal preference. Balancing work and family life can be a challenge, but with a little planning and prioritizing, it is possibly to have both a fulfilling career without sacrificing time with the family. The best tips include scheduling carefully, delegating tasks, and setting reasonable expectations.
Whether the family consists of a single parent raising a single child, or a couple raising several children, scheduling is one of the best ways to maintain a balance between work and family life. Having a chart or calendar with all the important dates, such as doctor’s appointments, school activities, and business meetings, can help eliminate major scheduling conflicts and keep everyone up to date on who needs to be where. It may also help to assign each family member a unique color on the calendar.
Setting clear priorities is an important part of balancing work and family life, as is understanding that priorities can change from day to day. While the “needs” of the family should typically always come first, there will be times when work-related duties come above the “wants” of the family. For example, preparing for an upcoming big meeting can take precedence over going to an amusement park for the day. Recognizing that today’s priority may not be tomorrow’s can help take the sting out of missing out on a fun day when work demands more attention.
Delegation is a tool used by the most successful people, and it can go a long way to help balance work and family life. At work, allowing someone else to share part of the work in a big project not only relieves some of the pressure, but also projects a “team player” persona that many companies like to see. At home, everyone should have a clear list of responsibilities, from caring for the pets to cleaning the house. Delegating certain tasks can help household chores go faster so there is more time left for fun family activities.
Reasonable expectations are paramount to balancing work and family life. If expectations are set too high, everyone in the family feels like they are failing to live up to them. This may mean accepting that the house is simply tidy rather than spotless, or that long family vacations far from home are not feasible every year. Setting reasonable goals together as a family, and laying out expectations that are possible to meet can help everyone feel more successful in their individual roles.