Balancing the responsibilities of your family and home life with work and other obligations can be a tough task for any parent. This is especially true today since both parents are now working full time in close to half all of two-parent households, according to an analysis of current population survey data conducted by the Pew Research Center. These households with two parents working full time are doing better economically than other families, but 56 percent of parents working full time say balancing their job with family obligations poses many difficult challenges, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. These challenges can interfere with career advancement, personal relationships, and raise stress levels. It is important to remember that work is not your only obligation. For parents who are working full time, raising kids, and running a household, it is important to share the load that is the day to day responsibilities of parenting.
During the school year, a family’s schedule can fill up and it can become incredibly difficult to manage the multiple commitments, which can feel overwhelming for some families. These are a few strategies to help you cope and manage all your family life and home responsibilities.
With so many family life and home activities to juggle, it can become incredibly difficult for you to be there for everyone, including yourself. You are probably already juggling a few roles, goals, and other demands of your time, including being successful at work, maintaining healthy relationships, being an involved parent, furthering your education, upkeeping a home, sticking to an exercise regimen, and being involved in your community. Furthermore, you may be involved in other family issues, such as taking care of aging parents or someone with an illness. If taking care of a parent becomes too much to deal with, you can look into senior housing to help out. Juggling all these roles, goals, and other demands consume massive amounts of your energy and time and often conflict with one another.
Caring For Your Aging Parents
The task of caring for your aging parents can be a lot easier or harder depending on the proximity in which they live. If your parents reside out of town or even out of state, caring for them over such a long distance can become a heavy burden. Traveling to their home will become expensive, plus you will be away from your own family, and daily phone calls can become time-consuming. If you have siblings, you can lean on them throughout the process. If your parent or parents eventually develop the need, you may have to consider hiring a professional geriatric care manager. You can ask your family law attorney for recommendations for a senior home or caretaker for your parents.
Prioritizing Your Kids First
With only so much time in one day, you might have to carefully consider your values and think about what priorities you want to set based on your values. For instance, if you decide being an involved parent is a top priority for you, you should set aside time each day to play with your kids in the house or the backyard. Just make sure these areas are safe for small children. For indoors, be sure to block off any dangerous area with baby gates, put foam padding over any sharp table corners, and make sure there is a proper fire sprinkler system installation. For an outside play area, contact tree services to trim or remove any worrisome trees.
These are tough choices to make since spending time with your kids may have to take priority over working overtime hours to help finance a larger home for your family. However, setting priorities is essential to juggling family life and home activities.
Planning In Advance
During the workweek is when most people are the busiest. If you plan ahead and prepare for the start of each workweek, you can begin to manage your family life and home activities and ease the stress of each workweek ahead. Hang a dry erase calendar on the fridge for the family and write down any family life and home activities on their corresponding days. At the start of the week on Sunday, look at the calendar to see what is in store for the week ahead and begin to plan and prepare. During the weekend you can prepare for the week by cooking meals and saving leftovers in the freezer or refrigerator to quickly heat up during a particularly busy evening. This can be a home activity that involves the whole family, especially your older children.
Negotiating Flexible Hours
If you are able, try negotiating with your employer for flexible hours that mesh better with your family life and home activities. If you cannot negotiate for flexible hours, try asking your employer about opportunities for job sharing. Having flexibility in your work life can bring much-needed stress relief to your family life and home activities. If it is financially feasible for your family, you can consider working part-time. This may result in less income or financial freedom for your family, but it may increase your quality of life and come with other everyday benefits. This is another matter of deciding what you value and want to prioritize in life.
There will be a lot of special moments in your kids’ lives that you may have to miss work for, whether it is a big soccer game, a school speech, or concert. Most bosses, employers, managers, or clients have families of their own, and will likely understand these family obligations. Discuss these situations ahead of time with your employer and plan for your absence.
Accepting Help From Others
In your family and home life, you should learn to accept help from others and build a support system. If you do not have any extended family around to help out, you can look to close friends, neighbors, or co-workers to lend a hand. Try to have a few lined up to help with tasks like babysitting or just being on call to help your child with their homework when you or your spouse are unavailable. Before your kids are of age to attend school, you can choose to rely on day care programs which can provide a positive influence on your child’s development.
Connecting With Other Similar Families
Find other families, friends, or neighbors who are facing similar issues and challenges trying to balance family life and home activities. By connecting with them, you can share your ideas and methods on how to manage and cope with a busy schedule. You will both likely benefit from the mutual support. This is also an opportunity to share certain parental responsibilities. You can take turns walking or driving each others’ kids to and from school, to after school activities, and babysitting for each other.
Sometimes running your kids back and forth from everywhere they need to go can be a lot. This includes school, after school activities, sports practices, doctor’s appointments, and childrens dentists. This can be a lot to handle between you and your spouse. You can work out a carpool schedule with other family members, close friends, or neighbors. Sometimes your child’s physical exam or dental care needs to be taken care of urgently, since plaque can begin turning into tartar within 24 to 72 hours.
Limiting After School Activities
Every parent wants to provide their children with the opportunities to learn a variety of different subjects, skills, abilities, hobbies, or sports that they may not learn at summer camp. While you may initially have good intentions, you can easily get caught up in all the extracurricular opportunities available to your kids at school and unintentionally create an overwhelmingly busy schedule for you and your children. Therefore, it is a good idea to limit your children’s after school activities to one at a time. This will also leave more time to do activities as an entire family, like bike riding or ice skating.
It is also important to limit your own activities after work, including your involvement in the community. This includes activities like volunteering at your favorite charity, sitting on the school board or a church committee, and coaching your kid’s soccer team. All these activities are respectable and important to the community, but can easily become overwhelming if you try to commit to them all. Do not forget about the essential after-work tasks, such as grocery shopping, going to the vet if necessary, and running other chores .
Just like your children’s after school activities, try to limit your after-work activities to one. This is another important decision that must be made by considering your values and choosing what to prioritize in life. Sometimes it is easy as learning to say no and not feeling guilty because of your time restraints and other circumstances.
Implementing A Routine
Establishing a consistent routine, including scheduled mealtimes and bedtime, will help add structure to your family life and home activities. Dinner time should be a mandatory and non-negotiable family time in which everyone sits down together to discuss and reflect on the events of the day. During this time, you should share your experiences away from home with your children. Let your kids know they are a priority in your life, but it is also important to talk about your other priorities in life, whether it be work or other commitments in the community. Your children are much more likely to react positively to your other commitments if you let them in on that part of your life.
Once you establish a routine, you should stick to it. Do not forget to schedule time for fun activities with your family, including a family game night or movie night.
Making Time For Yourself
Although it may be difficult or you may feel selfish, making time for yourself must be a priority, no matter how tired or burned out you are. During this time, you should do whatever makes you happy. This could include a yoga or fitness class or a favorite television show you watch once a week. You may be hesitant to take time for yourself, but afterward, you will likely feel better and be happy that you did. If you take care of yourself by making this time, you will be better prepared to take care of your loved ones and tackle all your family life and home activities. If you cannot find time for yourself at home, try going for a walk during your lunch break at work.
Making Time For Your Significant Other
In the midst of all your family life and home activities, it can actually be very easy for you and your significant other to slowly drift apart from one another, even if you are living in the same home. Any relationship is hard work which requires time and attention. While you may be spending all your attention on your children, you may forget to pay attention to each other and your relationship. It is important to frequently set aside time for each other. Every Friday night, arrange for a baby sitter whether or not you have plans to go out. Even going out for a one to two-hour walk together can be a valuable time for maintaining a healthy relationship.
Today, with everything involved in balancing work, family life, and home activities, it can easily become too overwhelming and stressful. It is important to have some strategies to fall back on and help you cope with and manage all your commitments. One of the most important tips is to take care of yourself to best be able to care for your significant other and your children. If you do, you will foster a healthy home environment for your family.