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5 Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance with Aging Parents

5 Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance with Aging Parents

Caring for our aging parents isn’t easy. Acting as a caregiver can result in unwanted stress and can put a strain on your relationships and career. According to AARP, about 25.5 million Americans struggle to find work-life balance while caring for their aging parents. Though striking that balance isn’t easy, today we’re going to share some tips on how to find a routine that works for you.

1. Prioritize and Organize

There is a “six-step process” that can help you take control of your work-life balance:

  1. Assess your situation
  2. Learn about your available resources
  3. Weigh your options
  4. Implement your plan
  5. Look out for changing circumstances
  6. Modify your plan as needed

Between work, family, and aging parents, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Before you continue, take a moment to fully appreciate what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Do your parents have regular doctor’s appointments? Do your children have after-school activities that you need to take them to? Write down these errands and activities, either on a notepad or on your computer. Visualizing everything you need to address allows you to move on to the next step: organization.

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Creating a schedule to follow is a lot easier once you know what to prepare for. In today’s world of apps and messaging, it’s easier than ever to set reminders and keep everyone in the loop about what needs to be done. Remember to include all necessary, non-health related errands in your schedule: Designate Saturday morning as your time to grocery shop for your parents, for example, instead of going whenever you have the time. Take advantage of the many calendar apps that let you share appointments with other people’s calendars so they can help out when needed. (More on this later.)

2. Speak With Your Employer

While we all want to show our dedication to our job, sometimes work’s demands can affect our ability to check in with our aging parents. If you find yourself in this situation, talk with your employer and try to come up with a manageable solution. Can adjust your working hours so you can check on your parents in the morning or on your way home? Could you work from home? Before starting the discussion, have your responsibilities and contributions laid out in order to guide the discussion towards practical solutions.

Being prepared before walking into your supervisor’s office not only shows that you take your situation seriously, but also shows that you don’t want possible disruptions to affect your productivity.

It’s also worth speaking with an HR rep to get an understanding of what assistance options are available to you, either through your company benefits or your insurance plan. You might have personal days designated for family emergencies, or other resources through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Remember that there are also government-sanctioned programs like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) designed to help employees address family matters without fear of losing their job.

3. Reach Out to Family and Friends

Nobody says you have to care for your aging parents all on your own. This is one of the many myths that surround elder care. Reach out to your personal network for help with your parents. Considering asking your parents’ neighbors to check in during bad weather to make sure they’re alright. If you have siblings or other close relatives, ask them to take turns taking your parents to doctor’s appointments or on errands. If you’re uncomfortable asking for this type of help, offer something in return: maybe treat them to a home-cooked meal or offer to house sit for an upcoming vacation.

4. Find an Elder Caregiver

While you may be able to spread out the responsibility of caring for your parents between a few people, this may not be enough. Circumstances may change: if your parent suffers an injury or becomes less able to take care of themselves, it may be necessary to hire an elder caregiver. While you can reach out to a traditional agency to find you a caregiver, other companies like CareLinx and KindlyCare utilize the “sharing economy” model to match caregivers with those who need them. With these companies, you are in charge of interviewing and hiring caregivers, giving you flexibility while also ensuring caregivers are properly paid for their time.

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5. Make Time for Yourself

There are many ways to go about maintaining your work life balance, but perhaps the most important is remembering to take care of yourself, too. Don’t neglect your own health; as much as you want to be there for your loved one, signs of exhaustion, colds, or other potential sickness will limit your ability to take proper care of them. Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Basic tips for living a healthy life, including proper sleep and healthy diet, shouldn’t be forgotten. To reduce the risk of burnout, take regular breaks at work and at home, whether that be eating lunch outside or going for an evening walk.

Speaking of burnout, there’s no shame in asking for extra help or some extended time off. Perhaps ask a family or friend to watch your loved one outside of their schedule so you can take a weekend vacation or spend an evening out with friends. Whatever you decide to do with your time off, try to talk about something other than caring for your loved one. But if you need to talk to someone who can help manage your stress, consider joining a support group. PBS explains there are online groups dedicated to people dealing with elder care, so don’t worry if there aren’t any local groups near you.

What tips do you have for maintaining a work-life balance when caring for aging parents? Let us know in the comments below.

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Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via image.shutterstock.com

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Kathleen Webb

Co-Founder, HomeWork Solutions

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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