Six Ways To Balance Work And Family Life
February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff
Christina Blenk, small business owner and Developer of WomanOwned.com, faces daily the difficulties involved with raising a happy, healthy family while working full time. If you are looking for some great tips to help you balance work and home, Christina offers up what works for her. If you are like me, you have a company to run, children to raise, a home to keep together, and a host of other commitments to husband, extended family and community organizations. Considering that there are only 24 hours in a day, only so much is going to get done. Even less will get done on those days that the kids are sick or a client has a crisis. Besides the dream of cloning ourselves, what else is available so make the day run a little smoother and (hopefully) leave some time for each important part of your life? I’ve picked up some good ideas along the way and I’ve listened closely to the experts – so here is my list of the Top Six Essential Items Necessary for Work and Family Life Balance.
Start with a plan.
Imagine hiking through the woods with no trail or map. Most of your time is spent going in circles with little hope of finding your way back out. Focus on your family plan first and then on your business plan. I suggest the family plan first because your ability to keep everything going will depend on a solid foundation at home and the boost you will get from feeling that what you are doing is worthwhile. Answer these questions for yourself: Why am I working? How can I make the most of my time with my spouse and children? What type of lifestyle do I really want and will this lifestyle make me and my family happy? When I’m 80 years old, how do I want to remember my life? Next, put together a formal *business plan and map out how your business is going to work.
Build a team.
You’ll need a team at home and a team at work. Lucky you! You are probably the coach of both teams. Use your plan and let everyone know on both teams what the plan is and how it will run. Let them know what part they have in the plan. Ask them about their plan and what role you play. Talk about what you will do when you reach certain milestones (celebrations!) and what you will do when the going gets bad. Practice your plan with your teams on a regular basis so everyone still knows what the plan is and can contribute the most to the effectiveness of the team.
Implement a schedule.
Humans are creatures of habit and we tend to love schedules. Effective families have a number of traits, and a consistent schedule is usually one of them. Chaos is not effective and does not promote balance. Use visual reminders at home so that the family knows about the schedule. Laminated poster board works well so that everyone sees what everyone else is doing and what the family events will be. Too many family events such as sports, community activities, or chores? Consider limiting activities or outsourcing or delegating chores to others. Use the concept of Family Meetings (weekly for most work well) so that everyone can check-in. In my family we have dinner together every night of the week. The family dinner is a very important time for everyone to reconnect and express themselves.
Keep work at work.
This is a really difficult one for most of us. I started out with a home office that had no doors and was formerly my dining room. It was so easy to work at night and on weekends. There are times when I still do work on the weekends, but I try to pick times that my children are not going to want time with Mommy. We call weekends “Family Days” for that very reason – to remind us that family is the most important thing on the weekends. If you are still working 60 hour weeks after your business is a couple of years old, make sure that those hours fit your plan from item #1. Burnout is around the corner if your situation does not match your plan and your team is clamoring for your missing attention.
Keep home at home.
If you worry about your home situation while you are working, your productivity will be significantly reduced. What can you do to help with the stresses at home? Refer back to your teams. Expand the size of the teams so that you have more flexibility to do what you need to. Enlist the help of a relative, spouse, ex-husband, neighbor, or trusted friend to cover those little emergencies that come up with a home and children. Another option is to hire an assistant at the office that can cover for you there while to handle the little emergencies. Have back-up plans for when the sitter is sick or the daycare center won’t take your child because they have a fever.
Use a time management system.
So far you have some plans, teams, schedules, and the separation of home and work. Now lets look at how you can keep track of it all. If you don’t use a planner (paper) or PDA (personal digital assistant) you should seriously consider using one. I use a planner where I have my schedule, phone numbers, codes, notes, and pictures. The planner zips up so nothing falls out. The amount of time I’ve saved with this low-tech device has been remarkable.
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