We all know work gets in the way of a lot of things, that’s well established.
“How do I do better balancing my job with my family life?”
This is a tough question for anyone to handle. The bad news: I get asked this question far more often than you might think. From people thinking they work too much to their childs detriment to stress between parents I see this on a daily basis. The good news is that you can find balance, or at least find better balance. It comes down to two things: knowing your priorities and mitigating stress.
Priorities- “What about ‘Em?”
Have you ever sat down and deeply thought about what your priorities are? Most parents I ask give me an assortment of answers:
I want to be the kind of dad that’s always around.
I want to be a successful woman who provides for my family.
I want my kids to know I value them while maintaining my career trajectory.
I want to be the most successful businessman in my family.
I also hear a lot of the following statements:
I know I don’t want to work all the time.
I’m tired of never seeing my kids.
I’m sick of my husband not helping around the house.
I wished I had more money.
All of these statements, though they are emotionally charged, outline a person’s desired priority. It might be the priority they want their significant other to have, or the priority they think they should have. Whatever it is, it’s important to know what your life priority is. Make sure to remember that life priorities are dynamic, changing as you and your family grow. You might decide once your kids are in high school to reinvest in a career for yourself. Or, you might decide to work more while they’re young so that you can be more present later in life.
Sit down and think about your family (or future family). What do you want? What don’t you want? When do you want it? Write it down to begin this exercise.
The other part of work life balance involves mitigating stress. You might ask, “What stress?” Take a look at your newly discovered priorities and then think about your job. There’s a good chance the two don’t jibe- the source of your tension. If you don’t want to work all the time, chances are you are working all the time. If you want to be the kind of dad that’s always around, chances are there are things in your life trying to keep you from achieving that.
How can you fix something you didn’t even know was a problem?
Write them down! This is the first step in beginning to deal with the stress that is throwing off your work life balance.
Back to the Basics
Now that you know your priorities and have identified where/what/who is causing the stress in your life, you can begin to fix them. At this point, it really boils down to communication. No one said this would be the easy part- it takes work. You might have to have a hard conversation with your boss, may have to move, may have to figure out how to live on less money, may end up looking for a new (or first) job, or get stuck planning family friendly activities. Whatever you do, it should be directed at reducing the tension between work and life towards the ideal balance of your priorities. Work-life balance is not a two sided coin, it’s the interplay between the priorities of your life.
Improving work-life balance is a difficult but important task for everyone to remember. It’s important to remember it’s not all about the kids- you have a life to live too. By reflecting on the priorities and sources of stress in your life, the mission to reconcile them becomes much more clear. Parental happiness has positive effects just as negative emotions have their own repercussions. By working to find your happy balance between work and life, you can positively affect your kids and their view of the world.