As summer starts to wind down and families begin to adjust their school/work schedules, it’s important to consider how you balance work and family. Often, balancing work and family can feel challenging because stress from one may pour into the other. Ideally, your goal is that you feel calm and controlled regarding your time both with family and work, and your children will feel at ease whether you are at home or at work.
How can you prevent work from negatively affecting your family life?
Have realistic expectations
Avoid setting unattainable goals at work, such as finishing a huge project the first week your kids go back to school or cramming in a ten hour work day before the weekend. Expecting yourself to achieve something unrealistic may leave you feeling let down, and that feeling can be difficult to shake at the end of a work day.
Instead, think about what you can reasonably achieve at work, given the expectations you have for yourself as you support your children as they begin a new school year.
Be open about your limits and needs.
Be open and honest with your employer about your family and childcare needs. Understand that if you have a sick child, an important family event, or an unexpected emergency, you may have to make special arrangements. Talk to your work about what support is available, such as PTO, family leave, and child care.
Use your transit time to create smooth transitions
When you leave work at the end of the day, switch yourself out of work mode. What will help you transition from work to home? You could use your travel time to listen to music or a podcast, relax, and mentally unpack your work day. Begin to plan for family time, and shift your mind to your parenting role. Your kids will appreciate you being 100% focused on them, and you’ll be happier being present when you arrive home.
Plan activities outside of work.
Balance is the key term in “Work/Life Balance.” Plan fun activities on the weekend, find things you and your family enjoy doing together, and don’t forget to address your personal needs as well!
Try to leave work behind during family time
Whenever possible, unplug from work. Try not to respond to calls or check emails, and if you find your mind drifting to work related things, acknowledge that thought and then shift your focus back to the present. If you find yourself thinking about a particular project or something you want to follow up on, write it down; send yourself a text or an email to help yourself remember when you get back to work, and then you can return to being present with your family.
In addition to the above things that you can do, be sure to utilize other resources in your life. Work as a team with your partner and/or caregivers, and lean on your village when you need a little extra help. You can do it all with the help of your loved ones and support you have in place!
It may be helpful to sit down with your parenting partners and talk about the approaching transition. What do you need to get done before school starts? What would help each child be successful this school year? What can you set up to help everyone through the first week? Can you plan simple meals or set up systems for returning homework? Split up the tasks so that everyone contributes and everyone feels supported.
It’s normal for parents to have mixed feelings about working. You may enjoy the social contact and mental challenges of work. At the same time, you may worry about leaving your kids with others or missing out on time with them. Both of these perspectives can be true at the same time. However you feel is normal and you can be successful at work and at home with thoughtful planning. Your children will feel supported as they begin a new adventure in learning, and you can cover all your bases both at work and at home.
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Are you interested in receiving more parenting advice? Triple P Online – Positive Parenting Program could be for you! This online parenting program allows you to take a parenting class in the comfort of your own home!
If you live in Lane County, you can get Triple P Online for free by filling out the form on the Triple P page. A staff person from Parenting Now will send you an access code within 24 hours and you’ll be able to start using the program right away! For more information about the program and to sign up visit the Triple P page.