5 Ways I Balance Work and Family
Going back to working full time after 12 years of being a stay at home mom, was quite an adjustment for not only me, but for my entire family. There were many dinners out, late bedtimes and loads of laundry forgotten.
Within the first few weeks, I realized the guilt was quickly beginning to invade my conscious and I could feel myself spiraling down a long, dark path of guilt, procrastination and self disappointment. The once organized life I led was filled with a constant theme of rushing to and from appointments while still trying to attend every single activity for the kids, volunteer, have a home-cooked meal on the table and still have time to bathe and put the kids to bed while trying to squeeze in quality time with not only them, but my husband too. It was a recipe for inevitable failure.
As mothers, we can sometimes set the bar unreasonably high for ourselves. That was (and sometimes still is) me. Yes, my husband and children are so helpful in getting household chores done and helping out (they play such a huge role in my work accomplishments) but I felt that I not only needed to but wanted to do everything on my own and get it done. Why couldn’t I? I’m a mother and we can do everything! That’s possibly true, unfortunately, long term, something would inevitably suffer - most likely myself and my family.
When I finally came to that realization, I decided to change my thought process. I slowly began to implement some changes and although there were (and still are) many learning curves, slowly, the balance began to resurface.
Will life always be balanced? Heck no. But tweaking things here and there will sure make it more bearable when it’s not. Here’s what works for me:
1. Prepare Early:
I have found procrastination to be the biggest culprit when it comes to stress. Whether for a birthday present, school permission slips, paying bills or even preparing meals, and/or working on a project for work, preparing early and getting things done ahead of time are huge life savers.
2. Set Boundaries:
Being a realtor, our bread and butter comes from picking up the phone which makes you feel the need to pick up every call. That was me until I caught myself answering a call right in the middle of my teenage daughter’s social crisis. I will never forget the look on her face nor will I forget the way I felt - like a splash of cold water on my face. Right then and there, I decided I would change my priorities. With some exceptions, I try to not answer my phone during family time unless I set the expectation up front that I am expecting a call. Same goes for overbooking the kids and/or the whole family for extra curricular activities or social events. When these things become a source of stress rather than a fun or challenging activity, you know the scale has tipped. Learning to set these boundaries made all the difference for not only my children but for me as well.
3. Eat Dinner Together As a Family As Often as Possible:
I can not stress enough the importance of this and how much it can keep a family unit connected. Obviously with various activities and practices spread out amongst the kids, it is sometimes a challenge and you can't always succeed in doing so every evening. I will say I have found the kids’ stress level to be lower and I can't help but think it's because eating together can be a forum for them to discuss what’s on their mind.
4. Schedule “Me” Time:
I remember the first year of me going back to work was a whirlwind and basically me being in survival mode. I was probably the unhappiest because of all the guilt I had on my shoulders trying to keep everyone happy. What I didn’t realize was I had forgotten a very important person in the equation. Me. I was so busy keeping everyone else happy that I had forgotten about me! Taking even an hour once a week for myself has been huge. Whether sitting on the couch flipping channels, getting a spa treatment, reading a book without interruption, or walking the aisles alone in Target, it makes quite a difference and it’s something I look forward to putting on my calendar.
5. Have “Date” Night:
Whether with your spouse, significant other, one of your kids or friends, it's important to go out. Get dressed up, put makeup on, make it special - you deserve it. Going out is a way to celebrate your hard work, and to relax after a hard week/month. I feel this will ultimately make you a better parent, spouse and employee/employer. Adult conversation feeds the mind and allow you to think and speak at a different level. Even if it’s a night out for a quick meal, drinks or even dessert, the change of scenery can make a substantial difference.
There are so many other ways to help balance one’s work and personal life. These points are the main ones that have worked for me these last several years and made a difference with not only myself, but my family and work. At the end of the day, if you can reflect on your day and say you have done your best, you have succeeded and that in itself, is a win.
Hugs, Mama K