Keeping a balanced work and family life is a pretty commonly excepted and understood concept but what does it actually mean? What does it look like?
What a balanced life looks like
To me, a balanced family does not mean home cooked meals every night. It does not mean a pristinely polished home or perfectly manicured yard. (That just sounds exhausting!)
Instead, it means your kids know you love them, that they see you trying your best to be a good example to them, to work hard, to teach them to be kind and loving. It means that although you may be tired and feel that you’re being pulled in all sorts of directions, you will take the time to read your kids the SAME bedtime story over and over again. It means you will be in the bleachers at all their games. You will fight their battles and they will always be able to come to you for help, for advice, and for support no matter where their journey takes them.
So, although I love a good gander through hobby lobby, and searching for decorations and DIYs on Pinterest… balance in the home has nothing to do with how the home itself looks. It has nothing to do with cleanliness or organization. Instead, balance in work and family has everything to do with a priority we can place on spending meaningful time together.
7 Keys to creating a healthy balance in work and family life:
1. The balance between work and family should be approached as a separation of church and state. Work and family are two separate entities in your life. You work to provide for your family. Which means, when you go home, work is over. It’s now time to spend time with your family. Although there will be times when you need to talk with your family or spouse about work — to vent maybe, or to share your accomplishments with the people you love most, you should not carry your work into your personal life often.
2. Make lists. I love lists! I don’t know if it’s the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can cross everything off the list or some strange organizational obsession I apparently have but…lists make the biggest difference for me! Towards the end of the work day when I’m really in a grove, I will write down where I left off or I make a list of where I should start the next morning. I find this helps me to leave all my work thoughts and worries at work. I do the same thing at home too. I’ll make a list of all the errands I need to run. Then, if I run out of time I know where to start when I get back to those errands. This helps me switch between my work brain and my home brain without going completely scatterbrained.
3. Another important part of finding a balance, is to be invested in your kid’s, your friend’s, your spouse’s lives. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV and LISTEN. Listening is so important in your relationships at home! Ask questions. Be involved in what’s important to them at every stage in their life! Being involved will help you shut the work chapter and be fully invested in you interactions at home. Do you ever just look around and see a group of people at a restaurant and glued their phones?! Doesn’t that just infuriate you? That’s what we’re trying to avoid here. Spend meaningful time with people that matter.
4. Put a picture in your office, as a screen saver on your computer or phone of your motivation to be at work. Don’t lose your focus. Your family is your focus. I also like having a motivational quote on my desk as well. Although it seems small and insignificant, these simple reminders can and will make a big difference.
5. Get a good nights rest so that you can be productive at work and not feel like you need to bring it home with you in order to get everything done.
6. Set goals. I am a firm believer that you should always be setting goals. They provide a direction and purpose for everything you do! Set goals for work and home. Some goals at home could be to have at least one family activity each week — go to the movies, go to the park, have dinner together, play cards, etc. You could also have goals of things you want to teach your children. My grandparents would have a weekly budgeting meeting with my dad and his siblings where they would sit down and discuss how much money they had, and how they wanted to spend it together — eating out and entertainment. My dad still talks about how those family budget meetings helped him understand family finances and how to budget.
7. Finally… Remember, work should always be something you enjoy but it should not be your whole life. Again, you’re life is your family. The purpose of work is to provide for your family or to give you some time away from your kids, so that when you’re with them you have the energy and/or means spend with them.
I hope this will help you find a healthy balance between work and family. I know we are all in different situations and our families are very different so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!