9 Tips to Balance Work and Family
A common issue parents have is balancing work and family. We feel pulled in multiple directions which leaves us feeling like we are failing at it all.
What if we stopped trying to balance it all?
Balancing makes it sound as if we are walking on a tightrope with multiple dishes in each hand, trying to make sure none of them falls. Long term, that is impossible.
Instead of balancing, let’s try blending. Making all the elements of our lives work together.
I gave up balancing long ago and instead decided what is important to me and how to make it all work together. For example, quality time with my kids, experiences together and health are important to me, as is my business because I need to make money for us.
Blending all of that looks like us doing hiking, diving, snorkelling, the gym and other activities together, along with travel. Plus, they have always been involved with my business so now as teenagers, they can manage social media, website updates and other things as their job and get paid to learn entrepreneurial skills.
How can you blend your work and family so that life is easier and you no longer have to balance it all?
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services I use.
It’s All About Time Management
Most people feel they don’t have enough time to do everything. Trying to be and do everything for everyone leaves us feeling depleted and burnt out.
Most of this article will focus on things you can do with your family to manage everyone’s time and needs instead of having it all fall on you.
Once I started taking control and implementing the tips below, my mental health improved drastically, my mental load was eased (not gone completely but definitely smaller) and my family was happier.
When we are stressed out, our family gets stressed out and no one has a good time.
Here are things I do and changes I made to balance life and family better.
1. Prioritize and Plan
Make a list of essential tasks and prioritize them based on their importance and urgency. Often we make huge lists and feel the pressure to do it all when in reality, we don’t need to.
Many things on our list can be delegated within the family or it isn’t important and urgent. Look at your current to do list, how much of that needs to be done right now and how much of it needs to be done by you?
What is more important to you and what lifestyle do you want? Is what you are doing making that happen or taking away from it?
Take the time to plan properly.
Plan your day, week, or month in advance, and set realistic goals for yourself and your family. Every Sunday, we have an Abundance Meeting where we check in about our money, goals, and things we have on this week and in the future plus review what we’ve done.
Then I can create a plan for the upcoming week, we all know it and it’s easily implemented.
Each evening before we go to bed, we prepare our lists for the next day and check in with each other so we can be focused on what is important and everyone gets their needs met.
Once I started doing this, more of my own needs were met too and we worked better as a family unit.
Yes, emergencies will pop up, and illnesses will change your plans but if you have no plan, you will stay in a frazzled state not achieving what you set out to achieve.
2. Communicate Effectively
Keep the lines of communication open with your partner, children, and coworkers. Let them know your schedule, deadlines, and expectations, and ask for help when needed.
Numerous issues can be avoided with clear communication. Often we don’t outline our expectations, needs or boundaries and instead expect people to simply know or read our minds.
Then when our expectations aren’t met and we are left doing everything, we are frustrated, angry and hurt.
Learn to communicate effectively.
Part of communicating effectively is ensuring they understand and will take action. While we might know how to do everything or where everything is kept, what time things need to happen etc others might not.
This doesn’t mean they can’t learn or shouldn’t be responsible. It simply means that sometimes there is a learning curve and we need to communicate well to ensure no misunderstandings about what needs to happen.
3. Set Boundaries
Establish clear boundaries between work and family time. Now more than ever, bosses are pushing work at all times, people feel obligated to stay back or work through lunch.
Make it clear that when you leave, you are off the clock. Unless you set and enforce your boundaries, no one will adhere to them.
Avoid bringing work home, tell whoever it is that is trying to get you to that you will do that work during work hours. Turn off your phone and email during family time.
Set autoresponders if you need that outline your availability and when they can expect a response.
Your time is yours and it is up to you to protect it. Read How to Set Boundaries for more tips on this.
4. Delegate Tasks
“It takes a village…” How often have you heard that? But where is this village?
Years ago, kids were raised as part of a community and parents had a lot more support. Without this village, women are now expected to do everything on their own but it isn’t possible.
Don’t try to do everything yourself, we are not designed to. Instead, delegate anything you can.
Household chores can be shared by the household. Organise a routine and chore chart or whatever and let others in the home take responsibility.
Look at age-appropriate chores for kids and get them to do it. You might need to spend a little time teaching them but it’s worth it.
My teenagers are capable of everything in the house and we rotate who does what. It makes life so much easier and I know they will be capable adults.
Another option is to hire a cleaner to help with household chores.
No one can work full time, raise kids full time, do all the household chores, take care of themselves, stay healthy and do everything else.
Share childcare responsibilities with your partner if you have one or outsource it to a nanny, childcare, babysitter or whoever to help you.
Stop doing all the errands and instead get others such as your partner to share in them or hire a professional. Get what you can delivered and do what you can online instead of running around too.
5. Blend What You Can
I mentioned combining some of my health goals with quality time with my kids through hiking, swimming and doing things we enjoy.
Look at all the things you need or want to do and the things your family want or need. How can you blend them or make them work for everyone?
You might think it’s multitasking but I’m not talking about answering emails and taking phone calls while you’re meant to be watching your kid play soccer. I mean blending things that make sense to blend and maintain their quality.
Things We Blend
To give you some ideas, here are some of the things we blend.
Health: We are an active family so most of our family fun is based around the beach and being outdoors. Our garage has been half converted into a gym that is used together. While working out we listen to music and take turns picking it or sometimes a podcast. My kids love that we do these things together and that they have some control over what we do and how we do it.
Chores: We take turns with some of the chores but also do things together. For example, if the house is a mess, we put a timer on and everyone does a cleaning blitz. When it comes to cooking, we sometimes cook together and other times let the kids cook how they want. This is teaching them life skills while also freeing up my time.
Business: My kids have been taught how to do various aspects of my business and continue to learn more. They develop entrepreneurial skills and earn more than if they worked at a regular teen job.
Since travel is part of my job, we also have the opportunity to have incredible travel experiences together and get paid for it.
Driving: Listening to podcasts or audiobooks and having conversations are two ways driving time is blended. My teens have enjoyed chatting in the car since they were little and often shared problems they were having or joyous moments while driving.
When it comes to the sort of podcasts we listen to they are mostly on self-development, finance, mindset etc. This has created a solid foundation for my kids and I.
Kids Sports and Activities: Have the whole family come to each others to support one another if possible. And be present.
Don’t be on your phone or spending the whole time doing other things. Watch your kids, cheer for them, and pay attention to it because it matters. They will look for you and it does hurt when they see you’re not paying attention.
Dinner and Fun: All of us enjoy a day at the beach so we combine it with fishing then have a fire that night to cook and spend time together. This is a great way to blend multiple things: quality family time, saving money by getting fish for free, cooking dinner and bonding.
6. Get Organised
Keep your home and workspaces organized and clutter-free. Easier said than done with young kids but it is worth staying on top of and at least trying.
If you don’t, the kids will never learn to keep it all clean and organised, leaving you to battle the mess for as long as they live with you.
Use tools like calendars, to-do lists, and apps to stay on top of your tasks and commitments. Read the book Life Admin Hacks to help with all the appointments, chores, shopping and other admin tasks that take a significant amount of headspace.
Declutter regularly, put things in their proper place and whenever you leave a room, take with you something that doesn’t belong in that room and return it to where it should be.
Lead by example. Actions speak louder than words so if your kids see you doing all of this and you back it up verbally, they are more likely to copy you.
7. Make time for self-care
Prioritize self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or hobbies. What matters to you and makes you feel happy, fulfilled and at peace? Schedule those things in and do them.
It is essential you take care of your physical and mental health to avoid burnout.
How can you do it? Check out 6 tips for self-care which covers how to make it happen and some ideas for things to do.
Get help and make the time for it. Make it clear to others, such as your partner if you have one, what you need and how you can both help each other feel more fulfilled.
Many dads have no issues making time for themselves to go camping, go out with the guys, play sports etc. Schedule in the same time for you to do the things you love.
My teenagers and I are clear on this and let each other know what we need, when we need it and help each other do that. Since I have toddlers too, it is crucial to me I set the example and I provide the space for my teens to do what they need.
If getting up before the kids would help you have some self-care time because the whole house is quiet, look at how you can make that happen. Mornings have been one of my favourite times to do a specific routine that fuels me.
Ask your partner to do the morning routine with the kids or hire a nanny/mother’s helper for those moments. There are many university and international students who are happy to do a few hours here and there as a mother’s helper so you can have time to yourself.
Without making time for it and ensuring others know it, you are likely to continue to put yourself last and feel frustrated.
8. Be Flexible
Be prepared to adjust your schedule and priorities as needed. Unexpected events like sick children or work emergencies sometimes require you to be flexible and adaptable.
Make sure you know what is a real emergency though and don’t let your boundaries get bulldozed.
We can’t control everything but the more prepared we are, the better care we are taking of ourselves, the easier it is to handle these mini emergencies or setbacks to our plans.
Life won’t always be perfect or run smoothly so being able to roll with it at times, reschedule, make changes as necessary is an important skill to have.
Make sure you don’t delay things forever or give up though. You matter and your needs are important.
9. Eliminate Distractions
Use your time effectively by eliminating distractions and putting your full attention to what you are doing. Quality over quantity matters, especially when it comes to your family.
This can take a little bit of juggling at first but it is worth it.
Look at how you currently spend your time and all the things you are juggling. How often do you pick up your phone or try to do things while ‘playing’ with your kids?
They feel it and it is not an effective use of your time. Whatever you are doing doesn’t have your full attention and your kids know they don’t either, which leaves them feeling unwanted and unloved.
Instead, allocate time for work and your phone so you can be present with your kids. You’ll probably be surprised how much easier the time is with your kids and how much more meaningful it is when you don’t have distractions.
On top of that, when you are spending quality time with them instead of rushing them through something or playing on your phone, they feel they matter. They feel loved and important and often become less clingy or demanding of your time. You’ve filled their cup so to speak.
That said, you are allowed to turn off your phone or make it clear to your family, work and others that you are unavailable at specific times. My teens know that between specific hours during the week, I am not available, at all.
I put my phone on do not disturb during those times and after 9pm at night. Often we leave our devices in another room so we are fully present with each other.
Phones can be a huge time suck and they are not great for interpersonal relationships a lot of the time.
Take Back Control
Times are changing drastically, especially the past few years. We live in a time that is more adaptable but also has more distractions and things pulling at us than ever before.
Scale back, look at your life and decide what you want then decide what you need to do to make that happen.