The following post is by contributor Christen Babb of Nurture Baby.
For many parents today, financial pressures continue to mount while the economy continues its lethargic recovery. Whether you’ve gone back to work full or part-time, away or at home, a paradigm change is created.
We’re challenged to balance our families’ changing schedules and demanding jobs while maintaining our sanity. Most of us already know the importance of staying organized, getting help from people you trust, and learning when to “unplug.”
But what other practical measures can we implement to relax and enjoy our families while at home?
This is current struggle of mine, as I have gone back to work full time and with two young children at home. In fact, it seems ironic that I speak from any position of authority, while frantically schlepping a breast-pump on a cross-country business trip and struggling to schedule meetings around doctor’s appointments, ballet classes, and preschool functions.
However, I do hope to leave you with some practical coping techniques to help create rhythm in your busy work-life schedule. I also hope to hear from you and encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by noodlemaps
Start Your Day by Eating a Frog
I must pay homage to Tsh Oxenrider for one of my all-time favorite posts on Simple Mom, Start Your Day by Eating a Frog. As Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
In essence, if you “eat a frog”, i.e. tackle the most dreaded item on your to-do list first thing in the morning, you feel productive and at ease with the rest of your day.
Many of us dread that “one thing” and perpetually put it off – whether it’s the monthly sales projections or that growing pile of laundry. When we mentally choose to do the worst first and save the best for last, it’s amazing how smooth the rest of your day goes.
I challenge you to read the rest of Tsh’s post. It truly revolutionized my working life.
Learn to Compartmentalize
Our male counterparts have this practice nailed. Meanwhile, we women tend to intertwine every aspect of our lives. After all, we are the ones that keep it all together, right?
I’m not saying to ignore our God-given instincts – not all at. I am saying that if we do find ourselves at a job that takes us away from our family for any given period, try to practice a healthy dose of compartmentalization.
That means, when you are at work (barring emergencies or your family’s needs, of course) spend those hours only focused on the tasks at hand. Don’t check personal email and avoid meaningless, time-sucking tasks that rob you from your daily work goals.
On the flip side, when you are at home, focus your energies on your family’s needs. Try to keep family dinners sacred (as casual as they may be) and take the time to simply “play” with your kids. If you have to “plug in” to check email or make a work deadline, make sure it’s after the kids go to bed.
Compartmentalization will make your work-life exceedingly productive and your precious time at home much more enjoyable.
Date nights are so important to maintaining a healthy relationship with our spouse. It keeps the lines of communication open and reminds us to enjoy each others’ company outside of the daily grind.
If you work out of the home, it’s equally important to take a day off every once in a while to have a one-on-one “mommy date” with your children. Take a field trip to the zoo, paint pottery, have a picnic in the park. Make it special and about them.
Working moms don’t have the luxury of quantity time with our children, but they can still create memories that will make a long-lasting impression. Not only will your kids love it, but it also gives you something exciting to look forward to.
Photo by Catherine Ashare
Right now, working full-time is a season in my life. Like many moms today, I do not have the choice. Many, especially single moms, may not ever have the choice. It’s not ideal, but often times it is a reality.
Recognizing that a perfect balance is unattainable, you do your best to get through each day. These techniques can help keep a rhythm, though I admit, it might not always be harmonious.
While it’s a daily struggle, it has also given me perspective. It makes me appreciate my husband’s long working hours, and never take for granted time I have with my children.
It’s challenged me to set goals, work hard, and appreciate the special moments, for they are precious and fleeting.
I hope to hear from you, too. What techniques do you use to create a positive work-life balance, whether you work full, part-time, or in the home?