Have Kids? Get Balance! 5 Tips for Improving Your Work/Life Balance
-By Lauren Laitin, Parachute Coaching
When I first meet with new clients, I consistently hear the concern that they feel inadequate both at work and at home because they are juggling so much – maybe too much. So I’ve created this list that has helped my clients realign their balance, and in so doing, gain more confidence. Join in the conversation here – http://www.parachutecoaching.com/contact.html
1. Schedule, but don’t over-schedule
Thought leaders in the work-life balance arena often advise scheduling time for quality time with your spouse, your kids, and yourself. I agree that scheduling is good – to a point. Schedule enough that you know you have one block of time scheduled with the people that matter most to you, including yourself – but only one! That doesn’t mean you can’t spend more time with those people, but it means there is something to be said for spontaneity and flexibility. If you over-schedule, the “quality time” will become just another item on your to-do list which will prevent it from really feeling like quality time. We all need a little wiggle room to feel free!
Kids love helping, and they love being with their parents (at least while they are little!). Oftentimes children aren’t so discerning about WHAT you are doing as long as you are doing it together. Turn a much-needed trip to grocery store into an adventure – create a little scavenger hunt; see how quickly your children can find letters going from A to Z in the aisles; let them pick out a special treat or what dinner will be one night that week. With just a touch of creativity, you can turn a chore into playtime. Enjoy spending time together AND get something accomplished at the same time.
3. Establish a Family Meeting
Schedule a time every week or every two weeks when you and your spouse discuss the household items that need to be addressed; figure out who is taking responsibility for them and set a deadline for getting those tasks done. Almost more important than actually tackling the tasks is the comfort and satisfaction you will get from knowing things are under control. Also, try to align the responsibilities with things you like to do. If you like to garden, you take the responsibility to call the yardman to schedule the seasonal clean-up. If your spouse likes home projects, put him or her in charge of hanging all those pieces of art that have been stacked up for months. The happier we are doing the tasks, the more likely we are to get them done! Also, if you have children who are old enough, you can incorporate them too!
The combination of busy jobs (especially ones with travel) and children, can create a bad cocktail of work schedules, school schedules, and activity schedules. If you don’t have a system for keeping track of them, something will always be cropping up and knocking you off your game. For starters, add any days off from school, or other notable irregularities on your work and family calendar at the beginning of the school year. Also, set up a family calendar – Google Calendar is great for this – give everyone a different color and make sure you and your spouse have full visibility of everyone’s calendars. Get into a habit of updating the calendar as soon as you learn about a new time commitment – especially one that conflicts with your regular routine. It will give everyone in the family a heads up, and give you an opportunity to plan around the aberration as opposed to letting it devolve into chaos.
5. Call In for Reinforcements!
Make a list of your assets for when all the planning goes awry. Are grandparents nearby? What about aunts/uncles? Neighbors with kids who might even go to the same school as your children? A college-aged babysitter with flexibility? If last minute travel or some other surprise catches you off guard, have a list of people you can turn to so that you aren’t scrambling in the moment. And if you don’t have family in town or people you can immediately put on the list, make an effort to connect with friends who might be in the same boat and create a support system. Instead of being surprised, be ready.
If you have any tips or tricks that you find particularly helpful, please share with us! We’re always looking for more tried and true methods! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , or join our community here - http://www.parachutecoaching.com/contact.html. For more insights and tidbits related to life as a professional woman, join our community, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, #openyourparachute.