We all know that, in the grown-up world, work is a very important thing. Being effective at work and keeping your boss happy is the recipe for going up the ladder in your professional path. But this doesn’t mean that work is the most important thing in the world. Family, and particularly your kids, must be your priority, especially when it comes to events that are important for them.
Learning to balance your work and nurturing your relationship with your partner and children can take up a lot of energy, but there’s always a way. In this article, we’ll share the best secrets to combine a successful career and a family life like a pro.
1. Make Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Planning
The secret to balancing work and family is planning. Since you have to deal with your kids’ activities as well as work meetings and your own chores, you might want to create monthly planning for those non-recurrent activities such as birthday parties, virtual work meetings, and school events.
Then you close in the planning with a weekly schedule to write down the children’s extracurricular classes and your own appointments. If needed, add the time of certain activities so you can accommodate them on your agenda (doctor’s appointments, dinner parties, etc…)
Within any schedule, you need to learn to be a bit flexible as there will always be unexpected situations and you’ll need to be able to quickly adjust your plans. With this in mind, leave some spare time for small but significant things such as taking the kids to school, going to get a haircut, going grocery shopping, meeting a work deadline…
2. Do Checklists for All Important Things
Checklists are very useful to keep track of specific tasks and when you’ll finish them. This is a flawless organization method most people use because a checklist is easy to take with you (you can even make a digital checklist on your phone) and they’re very short and concise.
Create a checklist for different aspects of your life: groceries, fun activities to do with the kids, a date night with your partner…etc. Combining your personal and work checklist will help you avoid double-booking events and failing at doing something.
3. Make Sure You and Your Partner Share Household Chores
It feels like work doesn’t end when you finally get home after a long day and find a big pile of dirty dishes, a load of laundry waiting on the stairs, and the trash can ready bursting over. While all of these are chores that you can’t avoid, and sometimes the kids are too young to do them on their own yet, you don’t have to take care of them all by yourself.
Remember that you and your partner are a team, and you both need to pitch in when it comes to doing things around the house. When your partner is going to be working late, you can pick up the slack and do the house chores, and when you get home late from work, your partner can cover these tasks so you can get the night off.
4. Make Your Kids’ Important Events a Top Priority
If your children’s birthday is coming soon, you should make it for a birthday dinner and cake; if they have a graduation ceremony coming up, you’re going to want to be there! If your kid has a soccer match, you need to be in the front row cheering them. Remember that these events might seem small but they’re pretty big in your children’s lives, so it’s crucial that you be there for them.
5. Don’t Take Quality Time for Granted
Time is precious and it doesn’t wait for anyone. That’s why you should always cherish the quality time you have with your kids and your partner. But what does this mean? Learn to be present! When you’re having family dinner, put down the phone, when you’re sitting with your kids, listen to them and start a conversation instead of waiting for them to move to the next game. Sometimes we don’t realize how little time we get with our children until they’re older and no longer around.
6. Learn to Leave Work at the Office
One of the best secrets to juggle both parts of your life is to learn how to separate time for work and family in an equal manner. It doesn’t matter how big the workload is, you need to learn how to leave work at the office and switch to “family mode” once you enter your home.
Do your best not to take your work into your home, don’t check your work emails, or take work-related phone calls while you’re spending family time. Once in a while, it might be necessary that you stay late working in the office, but it’s better to do that than bring your work home.
7. Dedicate a Whole Day to Doing Fun Activities with the Family
Even though small actions can mean a lot during weekdays in the middle of all the craziness of daily life, it’s important that you nurture your relationship with your family in a more special way. Make sure to dedicate a whole day to your partner and the kids so you can focus on doing something fun that involves everybody.
Pick a day of your weekend and start off by having breakfast together, then go out to an amusement park and finish your day cooking dinner together or watching a movie with popcorn. Dedicating a whole day to the family will make it easier for all to connect.
8. Take Some Time off at the End of the Day
We all know that a regular workday typically includes several hours at the office, getting the kids ready for school, feeding them, having them do their homework, and getting them ready for bed.
All of these activities might make you exhausted at the end of the day, but no matter how bad you want to go straight to bed, try to take some time at night to do something fun. You can go to the park with your partner or walk your dog, take a yoga class to stretch your body, watch a good movie or play a board game.
9. Ask for Help or Rely on Others When You can’t Do it All
Balancing work and family is not an easy task. It can ultimately take a toll on your mental and physical health, especially if you try to go through this completely alone. That’s why it’s important that you reach out to your family and friends and build a community or support system.
Whenever your parents or neighbors offer to babysit or take the kids to school and you really need it, don’t be afraid to accept help! These little actions might be an easy task for the person offering their help and they can make your day way easier.
10. Set Small Goals and Make Them Happen
Not only do you need to set goals in your professional life to succeed, but it’s also important to set some standards in your family life and do your best to make them happen. Your goals can be as ambitious or as small or meaningful as you want. You can aim to take the kids to school at least a couple of days a week, read them a bedtime story at least 3 nights a week, have a special dinner with your partner at least every other weekend, etc…
11. Communicate to Your Employer about Your Needs
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into balancing work and family if your career is not going at the same pace as your personal life needs it to go. You might think there’s no solution to this but in fact, there’s something you can do. Be open and reach out to your boss or your HR manager and let them know your specific needs.
You might need to leave earlier every other day to make it to parent-teacher meetings, or you might need to do home office whenever one of your kids is sick. Whatever the reason, you’ll have a better chance to juggle work and your family by being clear with everyone from the start.
12. Make Some Time for Yourself
We’ve been discussing how to have a successful career as well as a happy family life, but what about your personal life? If you try to make everything perfect at home and at work, you’re inevitably going to crash and harm your health, whether physical or mental. Remember to take care of yourself and make time for small solo activities where you can tend to your needs and wants. It can be a nice, long bath, reading a book quietly at night, or just hanging in the yard with a glass of wine on your own.
Don’t let anyone tell you combining a career and your family life is impossible! All you need is some organization, communication, a good support system, and lots of perseverance.