Table of Contents
- Clarify Your Values
- Set Your Goals and Expectations
- Manage Your Time
- Let Go
When my husband and I got our first child, we were thrilled. We wanted kids, and now we felt whole, like a family. I thought of parenting as a joyful, rewarding, and life-changing experience. I just did not realize how life-changing it would be. We both had jobs and juggling the demands of our careers, and personal lives were becoming a big challenge. It seemed like we had to choose between work and being there for our kids and each other.
We live in a productivity-driven society and many people, like us, find it hard to balance their work and family lives. Today’s do-more-with-less competitive society demands that we manage our family and career and feel satisfied with both. This can feel impossible and have adverse effects such as stress, strained relationships, poor performance at work, poor mental and physical health, role strain, and spillover. More often than not, many fail giving priority to one over the other. According to studies, your work-life balance will vary over time. For instance, the right balance for you when you’re single changes once you get married or have children. I struggled to find a balance between my family and career, but eventually, I did. These few steps can go along way in helping maintain your sanity at work and home. The first step to getting balance is deciding to get it. Without a conscious decision to achieve this balance, you will fail. Finding equilibrium will force you to edit yourself professionally and personally.
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Clarify Your Values
A value is a principle or quality that is worthwhile or desired. They guide our actions and structure our lives. Some areas where we have strong values include relationships between family, education, money, religion, work, etc. Being specific about them is key to managing your work and family demands. These values dictate what is essential in your life, and when ignored, problems often arise. Many of us have a general sense of what our values are. However, this is often a vague definition. The values we hold onto but arent entirely ware of, contribute to feelings of stress and frustration. But if you are in tune with your values, you can understand and manage these feelings.
Now that you are aware of them figure out which ones clash. For example, what if you value getting to work early and you also believe that the kitchen should be clean before leaving the house? This situation can be stressful and draining as you struggle to keep your values. Ease this tension by modifying your values and deciding which one means more to you. Do you value being at work early or leaving the house clean? Take time to think about where you come up short, and talk with your family to clarify where you would like to make changes. Be aware of important dates and timelines in both your work and family life and try to work around them.
Your time is valuable, and you can’t be everything to everyone. As a working adult, you juggle a lot of roles and goals in your life. You want a successful career, relationship, and be the best parent you can be. You may also want to further your education, keep fit, or save for retirement. Extended family issues such as caring for aging parents or dealing with an illness could also come up. All of these things need your time and energy and will conflict with each other. There is only so much time in a day, so think of your values and prioritize around them.
Set Your Goals and Expectations
Knowing what you want to do or achieve can help you decide on how to use your time. Our predetermined values shape our goals and give us the necessary nudge to achieve them. Distinguish between your concrete and abstract goals. Concrete goals are specific, for instance waiting to finish school before getting a family. Abstract goals, on the other hand, are more reflective of your well-being, such as building better relationships with family and friends or raising decent, responsible kids. Everyone has ideas on how things should be done and how people should behave in certain situations. These perceptions, attitudes, and expectations are a mix of our values and accepted social norms. Holding onto them when they do not fit the current situation can result in conflict and stress. We want to have it all and be perfect. Trying to achieve these unrealistic goals can leave you exhausted, incapable of fulfilling your responsibilities elsewhere. Reflect and change the expectations that don’t support your needs. That being said, you have to be flexible and adapt to changes. Things won’t always go your way, or unexpected situations may pop up. Learn to embrace change.
Manage Your Time
As with everything else prioritize what’s important and make time for it. Don’t lose sight of your goals but focus on those that need your immediate attention. Set boundaries and limits to show the extent of your responsibilities. Leave work at work and while at home, find time for your kids and significant other. Eat, play, talk, and spend time with them. Hang out with your kids and do something they enjoy. Be involved in your family’s lives. Slot in some me-time too. Set some time aside for yourself to relax and unwind. Find something to help you relieve stress and fatigue. Planning and excellent communication are vital to time management. Get organized and have a daily routine instead of reacting to things as they come. Anticipating your needs and planning will save you a host of problems.
You do not have to do it all. The need to control all aspects of our lives can be overwhelming and can hinder you from reaching your real goals. You are only human, so delegate the responsibilities, compromise, and rely on others to achieve your goals. This may not be easy since delegation involves trusting others with things that are important to us. However, this is the key to finding a work-family life balance. Finding a balance between your work and family life is no easy task. You have to accept that imbalance will happen from time to time, and there no right or wrong choices. But the benefits to your well being are worth the effort. The tiniest changes can have a significant effect on you and your family. They can help you develop tighter bonds and better relationships all around.