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The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

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The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

Balancing work and family life is one of the most common sources of stress for working adults. In this productivity-driven society that we are living in, more and more people are finding it hard to adequately fulfill their roles both at home and at the workplace.

More often than not, people are unable to find a point of balance between their careers and their families and one is given more priority than the other. This behavior has been associated with a number of dysfunctional outcomes—strained familial relationships, inefficiency at work, and poor physical and mental health.

Hence, it is very important that we are able to work on balancing work and family life[1]. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible if you take the time and care to make it a priority. Here are some steps to help you get started.

1. Make Balance a Priority

Achieving work life balance, whether you work full time or part time, is a long and often difficult process. If you do not make the conscious decision to achieve balance, it is likely that you will fail along the way. I have learned through my experience that it is very important to make an effort to provide yourself the opportunity for balance.

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For instance, you need to find a job that is challenging but not overwhelming; also, carefully think about how big of a family you can responsibly raise at the moment. By making wise decisions on the most important matters in your life, attaining balance won’t be a difficult thing.

If you are already settled into a career and have a growing family, you can still make small changes that will help you achieve balance. This could include requesting more flexible work hours, reorganizing the responsibilities you share at home, or bringing in trusted friends and family to help pick up the slack. 

2. Talk to Your Family

I used to think that I was the only one who could solve my work versus family life conundrum. However, over time I realized that there is no way for me to get things right if I only rely on my perspective. Since then, I’ve made it a point to have discussions with my family[2] regarding their perceptions, opinions, and even objections to my work and how much I’m focusing on it.

These discussions opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me more aware of the issues that I needed to improve. I also made sure that the entire family understood my obligations and responsibilities at work. Thus, there was also more understanding on their part.

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Once you spend time conversing and allow your family to have a say in how you’re tackling the balance between work and family in your life, you’ll find they have a lot of helpful feedback. Also, when they feel heard, they will react better when you have to stay late at work one evening or have to leave the dinner table early to finish a big project. Make sure the communication flows constantly.

3. Allow Others to Help You

There are times when balance is more difficult to achieve. Maybe you’re vying for a promotion at work, or you have a huge project for a client due before the weekend. Once you’ve communicated those problems to your family, it may be time to bring in some help.

Most people have friends or family that are willing to help out. Make sure these are people you trust to handle tasks like brining your children to sports practices or picking them up from school. In most instances, they’ll be happy to pick up the slack for a week or two.

If you’re not sure how to start asking for help, check out this article.

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4. Establish Boundaries Between Work and Family

It is important that we create boundaries between work and family. This means determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable. Boundaries hold the line to protect your work from the distraction of family, as well as to protect your family from the obligations at work. With clear boundaries, it is easier for you to tell when your action is not in favor of one aspect of your life.

For example, you and your family may set a rule that no one is allowed to use a cell phone at the table. This will help your older children, but it will also help you avoid taking work calls during dinner[3]. You may also decide not to check emails while on vacation.

This can be difficult, but it may be a necessary step to help your family feel like a priority and draw a firm line between work and home. The TED talk below may help you find inspiration to achieve the work-life balance you’re seeking.

5. Accept That Imbalance Is Sometimes Unavoidable

During my struggle to attain balance between work and family, I realized that there will always be times that I will have to let work or family take priority. It would be impossible to perfectly balance everything in your life at all times.

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For example, when a family member is sick, you may need to skip a work event. Or when an important deadline must be met, you might need to miss dinner at home and stay working late at the office. 

The most important thing is that you don’t allow imbalance to become the norm. The scale may tip for a few days or weeks, so the key is to bring it as close to the center as possible once you have the space to do so.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to balance work and family life isn’t easy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person and family must find specific solutions to their issues depending on their own preferences and needs.

Essentially, a balance between work and family occurs when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work. There is nothing wrong with working hard to get ahead, but don’t forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most.

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More Tips on Work-Life Balance

Featured photo credit: Andre Jackson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Academy of Management Review: Achieving Work-Family Balance: An Action Regulation Model
[2] Conversation Skills Core: 5 Tips for Better (& Easier) Family Conversation
[3] International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction: Out of Work, Out of Mind? Smartphone Use and Work-Life Boundaries

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Kara Heissman

Kara is passionate about sharing her self-improvement insights to help more people.

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