Balancing work and family life is always a struggle. If you’re in a fast-paced career, running as fast as you can just to stay where you are, it can seem impossible.

Dividing your time between your profession and parenthood can cause guilt and stress.

What will help you strike a balance? Consider these tips.

Tip #1: Managing Your Time

Managing your time means tracking it, creating a calendar, keeping work and family life separate, and allowing time with your children and your partner. Good time management is central to balancing work and family life.

Track your time

Write down how you spend your time in chunks of an hour or half-hour. Watch for time wasters like extra trips to the grocery store.  Ask: How much time do I spend checking email or watching TV? Can I find ways to be more productive at work so I don’t take work home?

Create a Family Calendar

Establish family priorities.

  • Kids’ activities
  • Due dates for bills
  • Chore chart
  • School events
  • Family events

Share the calendar with the family, babysitters, and caregivers. Use Google calendar or another online calendar.

Stick to Your Schedule

The basics:

  • Organize work and family times and keep them separate.
  • Make compromises that fit your family.
  • The kids can help.
  • Trade services with a friend or neighbor.

Ideas to try:

  • Plan meals, grocery shopping, and errands ahead of time.
  • Run all errands on the same day if possible.
  • Get up early.
  • Do morning preparation the night before.

Time with the Kids

Focus on the kids when you’re with them. Remember, quality is more important than duration. Tuck “together-time” into your daily schedule.

  • Have breakfast and dinner together.
  • Schedule a regular family night with games or movies.
  • Stay connected during the day with calls, messages, notes.
  • For young children, record your voice singing or telling a story so they can play it when you’re gone.
  • If you must miss an event, have someone film it so you can enjoy it later.

Time with Your Partner

Don’t let your relationship with your partner suffer. You need time together.

  • Set up a regular date night. If you can’t afford to go out, do something together at home: watch a movie, share a glass of wine, or work on a project.
  • Check in with each other daily. Share things that aren’t about the kids.

Tip #2: Setting Boundaries and Standards that Work for You

Setting boundaries shows that you’re responsible. So, talk to your employer about when you’re expected to be available. Try to find a workaround for the unrealistic 24/7 expectations. And decide what’s reasonable for you and negotiate.

Also, set clear work hours for yourself, especially if you work from home. And honor them.

Finally, don’t forget to set boundaries within the family. Are you happy with how you and your partner share family duties? Discuss it if you’re not.

Tip #3: Getting Competent Help

Build a Network

Ask for help when you need it. Independence can be overrated. Recruit friends, family, neighbors, colleagues. They can help with backup, emergencies, and contingency plans.

Encourage your network to tell you when you seem stressed, when they feel stressed, or when the kids seem unhappy. It will help you address problems before they get out of hand.

Seek Quality Childcare

Look for babysitters and nannies with experience, references, and a track record. Seek caretakers who’ve shown competence and long-term commitment to other families and experience with children the age of yours. You might schedule a paid “play date” of a couple of hours to evaluate how the babysitter or nanny interacts with your children.

Check daycare centers with attention to detail. A good one has flexible hours, space (including outdoor space), the necessary licenses, and a low child-to-teacher ratio. Also, make sure employees have had background checks.

Tip #4: Setting Realistic Expectations

Remember to be flexible when balancing work and family life. Things can change in a minute. Forgive yourself if you can’t get everything done. Give up the illusion of perfection.

Balance doesn’t mean everybody gets attention all the time. Sometimes, there’s a crisis at work and that’s your focus. Other times, you may be traveling on business and your partner needs to pick up the slack at home.

However, at times, family just takes precedence. It’s your son’s birthday, you’re celebrating your anniversary, or a child or a partner is sick.

Your kids need you for love and stability. But they don’t need a lavish gift or a spectacular vacation. A fun day with you one-on-one will do much to make them feel safe and loved.

Tip #5: Saving Time for Yourself

Are you trying to give 110% to your job, 110% to your partner, and 110% to your family?

Let’s face it. Even if that were possible, it would leave no time for you. And without you, someone else will do the job, your partner will be alone, and your kids will be orphans. Besides, you’ll be better at work and a better partner and parent if you’re a complete person instead of a frazzled wreck.

So chill. Take a deep breath. And plan some time for yourself.

The basics:

  • Exercise for health and stress relief.
  • Take breaks, including vacations.
  • A game of golf, a yoga class, a day at a spa, a movie, a dance date, an evening with a good book. Do whatever renews your spirits.
  • Eat well.
  • Get enough sleep.

Ideas to try:

  • Take a few minutes to shower and change before you join the kids after work.
  • Stretch every 20 minutes or so when you’re at your desk or on your computer.
  • Use affirmations to encourage yourself.

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

Balancing work and family life when you’re on a fast-paced career track is not for the faint of heart. But you’re up to the job if you manage your time, set boundaries that work for you and your family, get competent help, lower any unrealistic expectations, and save time for you.

If you would like help sorting out your career stress and balancing work and family life in a productive way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.