Keeping Your Sanity While Juggling Work and Family: Work-Life Balance Tips

As any parent on the quest to achieving the perfect balance of work and family, there are no easy solutions. One of the best places to start, however, is to make some simple adjustments to your mindset. The tips below can help put you in the right frame of mind to face the challenges that come with juggling work and family and give you the confidence to make difficult, but necessary, choices.

Realize That There Is No Easy Solution. Since at least the time women began to enter the workforce in large numbers, they have struggled to balance work and family responsibilities. With fathers now playing a bigger role at home, they, too, are stretched thin. Accepting that working and parenting are difficult tasks to juggle – and that no one does it perfectly – can help you to realize that you’re already doing a pretty darned good job and to be easier on yourself when you’re feeling inadequate.

Stop Feeling Guilty. By realizing that achieving a perfect work-life balance is an elusive ideal, you can stop feeling guilty about missing the occasional school or sporting event. No one, and we mean no one, can do it all. So stop beating yourself up when you can’t.

Accept That There Are Tradeoffs. It’s impossible to spend 100% of your energy on your kids and 100% on work. You might decide to work part-time or forego a promotion while your kids are young. Or you might decide it’s important to take that promotion and rely more on outside help so you can provide greater financial resources for your family or a strong career role model for your kids.

Stepping back from your career doesn’t mean you’re a failure at work; it means that you’ve decided to dedicate more time to your family. It may, however, make it more difficult for you financially. Realizing that your tighter finances are the tradeoff for spending more time with your family will help you to weather having to forego the latest designer bag.

Likewise, maintaining a demanding career doesn’t make you a bad parent; it simply means that you’ve decided that it is in the best interest for you and your family. Remember this when you have to rely on more outside help and aren’t able to be there for every school event.

There are no right answers – just difficult choices. No one can have it all, and pretending that you can is a recipe for disaster.

Focus on the Positives. Instead of focusing on the things you’re NOT able to do, focus on the things you are. If you miss a baseball game, remember the ones you were able to attend and how wonderful it is that your child has the opportunity to play. Be thankful that you have a great nanny to make sure your child gets to practices or family and friends who are willing to help out.

Stop Comparing Yourself. Your best friend may be the perfect stay-at-home mom. She makes organic baby food, heads the PTA, and even makes homemade, award-winning Halloween costumes. Meanwhile, the thought of staying home full-time makes you nauseous, frozen dinners are the mainstay of your family meals, and your kid has been a ghost for the last three halloweens. Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to feel bad. What’s right for one person is not right for everyone. Find what works for you and own it – your kids love those frozen chicken fingers anyway!

Prioritize Relentlessly. Because you can’t do it all, it’s important to identify those things that are most important to you and commit to them. When you identify your priorities, it becomes easier to say no to other things competing for your attention. If you have to decline an invitation, you will feel better about saying no if you can see it in the context of other, higher, priorities in your life.

Allow Time for Fun. We all need to have fun. Fun triggers positive emotions, and those emotions can easily spread to those around you. Positivity leads to resourcefulness and flexibility. It also makes you better at problem solving. Take the time do something fun to raise your mood and boost your positivity and productivity.

 

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About the Author

Shannon McNulty

Shannon McNulty is the founder of Savvy-Parents.com and a lawyer in New York City who provides legal planning for parents with young children. Shannon received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her LL.M. in Taxation from NYU School of Law. She has also earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) designation. You can learn more about Shannon and her firm at www.cityparentslaw.com.

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