Is tech making your work day bleed into your family dinner? Did your five year old just ask you to turn off your phone? Can’t shake the stresses of your work day during story time?
It’s impossible to escape that overwhelming feeling of guilt as your children run from room to room shouting for your attention. And all the while, you need to finish just one more spreadsheet, send one more email, and make one more call.
Figuring out a way to balance your work and home life is becoming increasingly difficult these days, no matter what industry you’re in. And it can be especially tough for parents who set impossibly high standards both at home and at work.
But don’t worry, it is possible to find balance in your work and home life while maintaining your sanity. Read on for tips on how to do just that.
The key to finding balance is to set yourself up for success. To do that, you need to change the way you think in two major ways:
1. Accept who you are. Sometimes work is going to be a priority and other times your family is. Accepting that every day is not the same is the first step to finding balance.
Instead, embrace both your parental side and your professional side. Turn off your work notifications when you get home, or stash your cell phone in your bag, until your kids go to bed. Then if you need to log back in to answer emails or finish something that was left outstanding, you are doing so on your own time, not your mom time.
2. Be realistic. Do you have a big deadline coming up? It may not be realistic to attend every recital, networking event, game, and get a homemade dinner on the table five nights a week. If you’re stressed, ask yourself—are my expectations realistic?
If not, you need to pare down your to-do list and work on prioritizing. Maybe that means the week you have that huge work deadline, you order in or meal prep a few simple dinners on Sunday. Whatever the solution, keep reminding yourself to be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day.
Leave Work at Work
We know, shutting off work mode the second you walk out the office door is nearly impossible and not always advisable for your career. But, there are ways to work towards unplugging after hours.
1. Plan ahead. If you want to disconnect when you’re at home and focus on reading your little ones a bedtime story, schedule it in and hold yourself accountable, just as you would a work meeting.
If you find you’re having trouble sticking to your work free schedule, block out time on your calendar. This way, you’ll have a reminder just like you would with a work appointment and your colleagues will also be on notice that you’re busy during that time.
2. Set boundaries. Of course, we all need to work overtime once in a while, but that doesn’t have to be the norm. Let your boss know that you value a work/life balance and that you’re willing to go above and beyond, but you’ll do so on a schedule. As with any relationship, clear communication is important.
3. Reassess work time. If you work a 9 to 5 job and you’re taking work home more often than not, it’s time to re-evaluate how productive you’re actually being at the office. Are you attending unnecessary meetings? Is your neighbor a little too chatty?
Assess the situation and identify ways to be more productive during working hours. We’re all guilty of falling down internet holes, but the key is to be honest about how often you’re doing this. Once you realize how much time you’re wasting, and how much more free time you could have at home, it will be easier to correct this behavior.
You’ll probably never truly rid yourself of the pings of emails, chats, and phone calls unless you go off the grid. But the good news is that you don’t have to. With a little preparation, honesty, and a solid plan, you can find balance in your work and home life that will work for your boss and your kids.