Find balance in your life
Ask most parents about their work-life balance and you’re likely to be answered with a hollow laugh, followed by the question, “What work-life balance?”
The ‘work’ side of the equation is demanding enough, never mind that under ‘life’ we have to cram in time with our children, time with our partner, housework, sleep and something resembling a social life! It’s no wonder that many of us feel as though we are living life in fast-forward and we rush around looking for the pause button.
And whether you’re a parent who stays at home full-time, or one who goes out to work each day, we are subject to so many conflicting pressures that it’s easy to feel guilty about the way we spend our precious time.
What is Work-Life Balance Anyway?
A healthy work-life balance would be one in which we have some degree of control over how much work we do and the kind of work we do. Nobody else can define what your balance will be – that’s for you and your family to decide. For one person, a fulfilling work-life balance might mean working ten-hour days, five days a week in the job they love, for another it might mean no paid work at all.
Make Work Work For You
Some of us feel we have no choice – either we have to work to pay our bills and mortgage, or perhaps the cost of childcare makes work financially impossible. However, this is a good moment to be a parent, with employees now enjoying the legal right to request flexible working practices from their company. These include part-time work, flexi-time, working from home or job sharing. After all, the positive changes in the world of work are not all one-sided. Many employers are coming to see the benefits of respecting their employees’ work-life balance, with advantages such as increased productivity, better retention of staff and lower rates of absenteeism.
Why not sit down with your partner to see if you can make both your working life and your non-working life more organised? For example, could you use your lunch hour more creatively, perhaps for study or socialising or even doing your weekly shop online? Why not club together with other parents and arrange a mutual childcare circle so everyone gets a break occasionally without having to pay for an expensive babysitter?
The complicated and ever-changing needs of family life can actually make some things easier. Many parents say having children has sorted out their priorities and made them more savvy about time-management. As Lucy, 32, mother of two and part-time administrator reckons, “It’s easy to be nostalgic about the amount of time I had for myself before I had children, but if I’m being honest, I was no happier then. These days, I’m definitely never bored, I use my time better at work because I’m not there as long, and if I get the odd night out, or an uninterrupted conversation with an old friend, I appreciate every second of it!”