Today’s career is no longer a straight climb up the corporate ladder, but rather a combination of climbs, lateral moves and planned descents. -Cathleen Benko, author of Mass Career Customization

Why is the work-family balance so difficult to get right? Juggling demands of the job with family commitments can leave you depressed and frustrated. Before we look at some ways to help you in the jungle, let us examine a list of factors that make it so complicated:

  • Work schedules rarely match school timetables. Time for a revolution?
  • Working from home or remotely is often not even considered.
  • Companies are generally reluctant to introduce family-friendly measures.
  • Women are under more pressure. Female employees are more likely to resign because of family commitments than men. Old traditional values die hard.
  • Only about 30% of women hold senior executive positions in government and public service sectors.
  • Choosing family over career is often frowned upon in spite of the government’s commitment to “family values” at every election.
  • Video conferencing is not used enough. It can reduce traveling distances, time, and expenses.
  • Women are often forced to make a difficult choice between career advancement when their teenagers are at their most vulnerable.

Here are seven ways to help you find the right balance during your own corporate climb:

1. You make your own schedule.

You are the one who decides. Yes, your boss may make some demands, but you can investigate with him or her what the chances are of working a shorter week, working flex-time, working remotely, and reducing traveling to meetings. You can also tell your boss what your priorities are in getting the work-life balance right. On the basis of this, you can decide how many hours you are going to be on the job, remembering that the longer hours you work, the less productive you become. This is all about choices.

2. Now schedule your family time.

Just as you schedule meetings, write down the chunks of family time you need in your calendar. Treat these in the same way you manage all those meetings and other deadlines that haunt you. Being haunted by your family is much more fun!

3. Do some fun things at home.

When you do get home for that important birthday party, play recital or sports event, switch off your phone as you arrive. Time to switch on your family. You can enjoy doing a few things together so this is really prime time. You can forget about your emails and Facebook status until after you’ve focused on family.

4. Outsource and team up with other parents.

If you are plagued about getting the groceries in, why not order them online and have them delivered? You will save loads of time.

Team up with other parents so that you can share fetching kids from their activities. Pooling resources makes a lot of sense and saves on fuel and emissions.

5. You and your partner make a great team.

Maybe you are both working, so you will have to work out what are the best time savers and ways you can support each other. This is the real test of any relationship, especially when it comes to household chores. In fact, according to a 2007 Pew Research Poll, chores are in the top three factors for a happy relationship, alongside good sex and fidelity.  Here are a few tips:

  • Set aside money to get the cleaning done regularly by a service.
  • Decide together who is on duty for family events and transportation.
  • Neither partner needs to micro-manage the other.
  • Forget critical supervisory roles.
  • Decide on who pays bills and does the laundry.

You want to avoid a situation where one partner has to sacrifice his/her leisure for the sake of the children or keeping the home on the rails. Be a team and work together.

6. Use commuting/traveling time to bond.

Don’t waste your time here. If using public transport, you can easily call your partner and kids or just send them texts. It is a great way to bond. That is much better than checking work emails on your smartphone. If you are driving, a hands–free phone is a great investment as you can drive and talk to your loved ones at the same time.

7. Plan your family holiday.

If you can plan the family holiday well in advance, this is great. It means that you cannot cancel flights very easily, and it also means your family is committed to a block of pure family pleasure. You can encourage your partner to make sure it really happens by checking that you have both got the leave approved by your bosses. Use a countdown chart on your family notice board. Award a star every time you manage to avoid/postpone/re-arrange a work commitment in that sacred space.

Try these tips to make your life with your family a reality and not a figment of your imagination. Remember that Steven Spielberg once remarked that he never saw his father because he was a workaholic. Now, you wouldn’t want one of your kids to remember you like that, would you?

Check out 10 Keys to Work/Life Balance

Featured photo credit: work,work,work/Nina Hale via flickr.com

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