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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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