Work and family are central to our daily lives. Trying to balance ever-increasing family and work roles is a source of stress for many of us, not least because it causes tension and side effects. Tension arises when you are not able to fulfill your role properly. Side effects occur when your work situation and relationships impact the family side of your life. Finding a good balance between work and family life is not easy, but the benefits are worth the effort to find it.
1. Choose your values for you and your family.
A value is a principle, standard or quality that is considered worthwhile or desired. Values guide our actions and structure our lives.
Areas where values are strong often include the maintenance of the home, the meal to be prepared and shared, the care of children, the relationships between parents, with their children, education, money, politics, religion, etc.
Defining your values is the key to managing work and family demands. They tell you what is important in your life and what matters. Too often we don’t ask ourselves enough about our values until a problem arises.
2. Think carefully.
Most of us have a general sense of our values, but it’s often vague. Many remain unconscious. These values, which we are not always aware of, often contribute to our stress. This stress can be understood and dealt with once we are in tune with our values.
3. Consider the conflicting values.
For example, you think you need to be at work early, but you also think the kitchen should be spotless before you leave. How do you do it? This type of conflict is stressful and can impact you until you reconsider and think about how to make these two values interact.
Modify or prioritize your values perhaps an idea to avoid having them clash. Which is more important? Getting to work early or leaving once your house is spotless? Decide and act accordingly.
4. Set goals.
They are important and allow us to decide how to spend our time.
Goals can also be “to have my own business by the time I’m 40” or “to finish my education before I start a family.” Our core values shape our goals and drive us to accomplish them. The values underlying these two goals have a high regard for initiative, achievement and education.
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5. Distinguish between concrete and more abstract goals.
Some goals are specific and concrete, such as the examples listed above. Others may be more general, dealing with relationships and your well-being and place on earth. For example, you may aspire to maintain strong friendships, educate your children to become enlightened and responsible, or cultivate a deep spirituality of yourself.
6. Rank your goals.
To avoid tension, you may choose to prioritize your goals, drop others, or change them as needed. Think about what matters most to you as you rank your goals.
7. Consider social and individual expectations, perceptions, attitudes.
Everyone has their own idea of how things “should” be done and how people “should” behave in certain situations. Often these expectations, perceptions and attitudes come from a mixture of our individual values and socially accepted norms.
Identifying these “assumptions” is more complicated than finding one’s own goals, as the origin often lies beneath the surface. However, holding expectations and attitudes that don’t match us can generate a lot of stress and anxiety. Many of us want to “have it all”, be “everything to someone” and be “perfect” in every area of our lives. In trying to achieve these unrealistic goals, we become exhausted and find ourselves unable to fulfill any role in our lives. Rather than getting to that point, stop and think about your expectations and attitudes and adjust them to fit your needs.
8. Be flexible and malleable.
Make allowances for yourself when you miss or forget to do something. In other situations, accept the fact that unforeseen circumstances will arise that will change your goals. Negotiate with your spouse, co-workers and boss based on what you need.
Be open to change. Don’t be too comfortable, because once everything seems to be under control, it can suddenly change.
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9. Set priorities.
Prioritizing is essential in time management. Juggling work, family, and finding time for friends and yourself is not easy. Even if we use our time effectively, it is not a given. In other words, we can do the right things, but we shouldn’t do them. We often don’t schedule the time to accomplish these abstract goals. It’s about prioritizing and deciding what is most important, in the short, medium and long term.
Once you have decided what is most important to you, focus on those goals first. Don’t lose sight of the others, but focus on those that need your immediate attention.
You might also want to remember to leave work at the office…
10. Assess your goals and available time.
Ask yourself what you need to do to achieve the goal at any given time.
Set a benchmark for yourself. How will you know when you have reached your goal?
11. Set limits.
They determine how you use time and space and allow you to manage and feel your emotions. Boundaries reflect the extent of your responsibility, power and office. They also tell others what you are willing to do and accept.
Be prepared to say “no”. Remember that your prerogative is to be willing to say no when pressed to accept new responsibilities. In fact, it’s the key to balancing work and family life. For example, if your boss asks you to stay late when you promised your child that you would attend an activity at school, you can say that you are already committed elsewhere and find an alternative solution that allows you to keep your promise  .
Set limits on your time. Break down the daily tasks you have to complete into increments. How much time are you willing to spend on each one?
12. Get organized daily.
Have daily tasks and a structured plan each day rather than reacting to what comes up. Organize ahead of time and anticipate your needs.
It’s good to have a plan B, in case of an emergency and to be prepared for any eventuality.
Establish a support plan that you can draw on. Connect with friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and professionals. Be prepared to ask for help if you need it.
13. Take breaks from your daily routine.
It’s good to have other activities outside of work to keep your days balanced, enjoyable and complete.
Develop healthy habits, such as diet, physical activity, meditation and other forms of quiet time. You can find gym classes during your lunch hour, and the rates may be better during these times.
14. Block out time on your calendar for family and friends.
You do it for your meetings at work, why not do it for your family too? Planning this family time in advance will make it harder to cancel at the last minute. Treat your family members as if they are the most important people in the world and don’t miss “those appointments” with them under any circumstances.
Eat meals together as a family. Studies show that eating together as a family contributes to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all family members. Families that eat meals together are less likely to use illegal substances, have teenage pregnancies and depression. They also have higher self-esteem. Eating together helps everyone bond. It is one of the most enjoyable times of the day for children and parents.
Make time for life’s little moments and the big ones. Take time to celebrate milestones, accomplishments, graduations, birthdays and vacations together. Even the smallest moments (your child won his or her rugby tournament) punctuated by a small gift make everyone feel special.
15. Treat yourself to evenings of relaxation.
Do something simple with your spouse or family. It doesn’t have to be a special event, just something that allows you to be together, like watering the garden, tending to it, going for a walk, etc. As long as you are relaxed and listening, everyone feels they are getting the attention they need.
Enjoy bedtime routines if you have children, including bath time, reading, and taking them to bed. Spending this time with them makes them feel that you are available to them.
Use the rest of the evening to talk about your day with your spouse. Think of it as a debriefing session. Ask your partner how his or her day went, tell them about your day, or just listen. The day-to-day is just as important as the big moments in keeping the relationship healthy, lasting and mutually beneficial.
16. Stop wasting time.
We waste a lot of time in front of the TV, internet, video games, etc. Try to reduce these unnecessary distractions that don’t really add value to your life.
Set aside specific times for activities related to the web, TV or video games. Choose what you want to do and how much time. For example, if your favorite TV show is on Thursday night, watch TV then, but do something else before the show starts. Watching TV is a time-limited activity. If you have doubts, ask yourself the question “what is most important in my life?” Going back and reflecting on your core values is the best way to get you out of these unnecessary activities and use this time to do important things.
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17. Talk to your family and friends about your workload.
Ask them how they feel about the balance you are trying to strike between work and family life. Keeping the lines of communication open will help you avoid the resentment that your actions may cause.
Explain to your family and friends why you can’t always do what they want you to do (for example, if you missed a show at school because of your work). Explaining the situation openly can help others understand and sympathize.
18. Reconsider what control means.
Often we think we can control things better if we do them ourselves. However, this prevents us from achieving our own goals. We are not extraordinary beings after all.
19. Delegate work to fulfill priority needs and wants.
Although many of us don’t want to delegate home or work tasks for fear of losing control, we benefit from distributing the work. This way, we are not overwhelmed and are more likely to succeed in important tasks. Delegating is not easy, because it requires trusting others with things that mean something important to us. However, it is also one of the keys to finding balance between work and family life.
For example, you can ask the babysitter to start making dinner before you get home or to do some cleaning. This takes a little bit of the pressure off your domestic responsibilities.
21. Make compromises.
Find ways to simplify your life when possible and under certain circumstances.
For example, if you’re tired of running errands every week, try online shopping. You choose online and have it delivered to your door. A few extra dollars are worth the time saved, depending on your situation.
Look for things in your environment that could help you save time, such as cleaning companies that pick up your laundry in the morning and bring it back to you, a housekeeper, etc.
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22. Take the guilt out of it.
Forget about the guilt that follows you around all day. Many people feel guilty about being at work instead of at home. The opposite is also true. This is an equal-sum game.
Accept the idea that having everything or doing everything is a myth. You do what you can, given your circumstances and limitations, and that is the most important thing. Rather than feeling guilty all the time, focus your energy on doing the best you can every day, in whatever role you have and in whatever time you have available
Build relaxation and downtime into your schedule.
Do something that relaxes you as an individual. A physical activity, a long walk, listening to music, reading, cooking or a yoga class. Take breaks for yourself. It is necessary for your well-being and will help you manage the stress of your daily life.
Meditation can help you find a good mental balance.
Once a week, give yourself and your family a night out. Watch a movie, play a game or go out. Everyone is caught up in their own routines and busy schedules and it’s a good idea to have one night a week where everything stops and the family gathers.
24. Avoid negative people in your life.
Surround yourself with stimulating people who reflect back to you the feeling of being positive, accomplished and established and avoid those who complain, grumble or have a negative attitude.