I hate the term work/life balance, because it creates the visual that personal and professional lives must live in competition. But I know many working moms who are as unhappy as can be because they haven't figured out how to create some semblance of balance and they are either feeling guilty or miserable with what they have instead.
Here are some super simple ways to maintain your happiness while you care for your family and keep the career you also love.
Create a Routine
One of the best routine tools to use at work is to make a list of tasks based on priority. Prioritizing your work allows you to get the most important things done and using a checklist allows you to see what you have achieved during the day. Having a daily routine will make you less stressed about what you will do each day at work.
Routines are great for home as well. They let everyone know what’s going on and when. However, sometimes you need downtime too. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself and your family some downtime. You can even put it on the calendar if you want to. Scheduling in downtime for you and your family is a great way to make sure you all are able to relax and bond together.
If you can telecommute to work especially on days where you are sick, your children are sick, or the commute will be extra-long due to weather or outside circumstances. Telecommuting is a great way to provide your employer with what they need while giving you some breathing room.
Learn to Say No
This is one of my favorite strategies because so many of us struggle with feeling like we must say yes when we are asked to do something. Many of us don’t even consider saying no at work. This results in taking on too many tasks, working overtime, and being stressed about not being able to get everything done. If there’s a job you know, you won’t be able to get done or that you are not suited for say no. You may be surprised at how well this is received by your employer.
It is important to learn how to say no to social events and home life events that will be too taxing as well. Maybe you have social obligations that are just too draining, or don’t allow you enough time with your family in the evenings. My kids sometimes complain that I don't volunteer as much as other parents, but I always remind them that I make the decisions that work for me. That means I get to be truly present when I can and I'm not a distracted or grumpy mess just so I can be available more often than my schedule will really allow.
Learn Your Employer’s Policies
When I started teaching teachers about how to work with at-risk youth, I always encouraged them to take time off when necessary because stressed out teachers don't do their best work in the classroom.
Learning leave, vacation, sick, and disability policies are paramount to any job, so you don't worry yourself sick or overuse the company policy. Also, learn what telecommunication systems your company has in place. If there aren’t any, you may need to ask. This will alleviate any stress if you need to use vacation or sick days or if you need to telecommute
Let your employer know what’s going on. Let them know where you’re at on individual projects, if you’re going to be on time ahead of deadline or behind on schedule. Communicating these vital elements to your employer will alleviate stress on the job.
At home, communication is essential. This is even more so if there are a marriage and kids at home. Make sure you are letting everyone know what is going on with you. In addition, you need to know what is going on with everyone else.
Set a family meeting once a week to discuss upcoming events, stress points, things that may need planning and other elements of life that could cause stress if not well planned. This simple act will aid in your ability to find that balance between work and home.
These five steps will help you find some balance in your busy life. What are some ways that you have found a balance between work and home that weren’t on our list?