Why is it important to strike a balance?
Balancing work and family is something that some parents might find overwhelming. Research from Family Lives shows that parents are willingly making changes in order to work more flexibly and spend more time with their children.
However, finding the right balance can sometimes be a challenge, due to long working hours and the demands of family life. Firstly, it is essential to understand why striking a balance is important. Here are some advantages of maintaining a healthy work-family balance:
- Increasing productivity at work
- Experiencing fewer instances of sickness
- Improving mental health and general well-being
- Boosting morale and motivation at work and at home
How to find a balance between work and family
At Refreshing a Career, we recognise the importance of finding the right balance between family and work. Therefore, we have put together five tips that will help you to manage and balance family and work.
Planning and doing things in advance
Preparing for the whole week in advance is a great way to plan your duties both at work and at home. Here is what you can do:
- Posting a calendar on the fridge can help you visualise your tasks and keep them under control.
- Meal planning – making meals on the weekend, or whenever you have time off work, can save you time. You can refrigerate or freeze your family meals, and quickly reheat them as and when you need.
- Planning your shopping list – meal planning for the entire week before shopping for groceries can save you extra trips to the supermarket.
- Ordering food online – shopping at the supermarket can sometimes be time-consuming. Online shopping will allow you to save time on trips to local shops. Furthermore, you can also pre-save your shopping list for faster checkouts in the future.
Negotiating flexible hours at work, if possible.
The traditional full-time schedule does not work for everyone anymore, and sometimes companies accommodate people who are more productive with a flexible schedule.
Flexible work could include:
- Occasional part-time work
- Fully remote teams
- Work-from-anywhere arrangements
- Compressed work weeks (e.g. working 40 hours over four days instead of five)
- Alternative schedule jobs (working evenings, nights or weekends)
- Temporary work
- Seasonal jobs
Sharing with other families
Sharing your tasks with your neighbours, friends and families from your children’s schools is a great way to improve your balance between work and family. They might be facing the same challenges as you. Therefore, you will not only benefit from the mutual support, but you will also be able to exchange ideas and tips with other working parents. Here is what you can do:
- Taking turns walking the children to school and other activities
- Babysitting each other’s children
- Scheduling playdates
Exercising with your family
Finding time to exercise when you have children and work full-time can sometimes feel daunting. For instance, you might think that exercising will take even more time away from your family. However, you can find ways to turn exercising into a family group activity. This way, not only will you enhance bonding time with your family, but you will also improve your mental health. Here are some examples of how you can exercise with your family:
- Making time to play – you could set aside 30 minutes a day, three times a week to do fun exercise with your children. It can part of your after-school or after-dinner routine. You can plan one family activity every weekend, such as taking your children to the playground or going on a full-day hike if you have older children.
- Walking or cycling everywhere – everyday tasks such as going to the supermarket, library or taking your child to school can turn out to be excellent exercising opportunities. If you have a baby or toddler, you could mount a babysit on your bike.
- Planning active family gathering – organising family parties is a great idea to include some exercise in your routine. You could plan fun active games with rewards such as races, treasure hunts and dancing.
Using the Internet
Many online organisations offer free resources and support for working parents. You can find some examples below:
- Family Lives – a national charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life.
- National Childbirth Trust – the largest UK charity for parents that provides practical and emotional support.
- Parent Channel TV – a set of video resources from Family Lives that offers free parenting advice by topic and age range.
- Gingerbread – a charity that provides expert advice, practical support and campaigns for single parents.
- Contact a Family – a national organisation that supports families of disabled children.
- Family Fund – the UK’s largest provider of grants to low-income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people.
Working from home has become an increasingly common practice to accommodate a healthy work-family balance. You can read our blog on how to work from home with kids to learn more.