As a full-time writer, there are weeks where I don’t even have to leave my home-office. When I worked in a cubicle, it seemed like “the dream.” I would be able to work and be home for my daughter whenever she needed me. Real life, however, is rarely so simple. Striking a work-life balance was almost more challenging at home than when I had to report into an office every day.
For those who still have the luxury of leaving home, but also have to bring work home with them, it can be very tricky to divide your time between your family and your professional responsibilities. I once spoke to Dr. Victor Barbetti, a therapist working in Pittsburgh, for another article on this subject. He told me, “In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, we need to begin to develop our capacity to say ‘no’ to certain aspects of our work life.”
The idea that not saying “yes” to everything that is asked of you at work can seem like potential career-suicide. However, by asking for specific expectations for projects, you can better gauge the time investment. If after one such project is complete, you found that you didn’t have enough time with your family, passing on the next project is in the best interest of both yourself and the company.
While you may have been able to pull off great work once, with repeated “spill-over” stress the quality of both your home life and work will decrease. Dr. Barbetti says “setting clear boundaries” between work and family time is the “first step” to negating the effect of this stress.
Whenever I have to work more than a few hours at a stretch, I will often insist that my daughter work along with me. She can do her homework or some sort of artistic project—often quietly—and I am able to get work done while spending time with her. You can even share with each other what you accomplished, but children will be far less impressed with your spotless spreadsheet than they should be.
One other key trick to managing the work-life balance is to treat your children like a valued client. Keep your promises to them and make sure you only make promises you are able to keep. Missing a game or a movie night will still be disappointing, but they won’t feel as if they’ve been deceived or treated as less-than-important.
It’s also important to make sure that while striking this balance, you schedule in some time just for you. Recharging yourself is just as important as making sure your kids are happy and well-rested. Even if it is just for an hour a day, do something that both makes you happy and relaxes you. If you’re over-stressed, you won’t be much good as a worker or a parent.
What are some ways you balance your job and your home life? What areas do you think you could improve? Share below!