Busy Schedule? How to Balance Work and Still Have Quality Time with Your Family
Does your day start and end with a mad rush of preparing your kids for their days? Do you feel exhausted and maxed out much of the time? Does it feel like just one more thing will throw you over the edge?
If so, you aren’t alone. Today’s demands of families are great. With both parents working, kid’s extracurricular activities, and commuter traffic, it can be a stretch just to exist some days.
While there’s no easy fix to the demanding world we live in, we’ve compiled some tips to make it a little easier for your life to be amazing.
Say No and Set Limits.
One of my good friends used to share “if you can’t say no, what does your yes mean?” It’s a poignant point. If it’s our kids, our boss, or even ourselves, we need to set limits and say no once and awhile. Sometimes guilt can get in the way of our health.
For your kids, understanding you aren’t a demand-fulfilling engine may be new. Helping them understand and meet some of their own needs may be in order. Consider assigning them some chores or other tasks to relieve you a bit, and perhaps to earn something special they have been wanting. This teaches them responsibility and what it’s like in the workplace.
If you are feeling stretched, you may to say no a bit more to allow yourself to recharge. Make sure you create activities for this – whether it’s a long bath, relaxing with a good book, taking a nap – do an activity that recharges you.
Create and Update Your Calendar.
With multiple schedules and a face-moving world, a calendar can help your busy family life out. Ideally, use a calendar many can access, like Google Calendar. This can help answer questions like “when is the next soccer game?” After you put an event in, you can now “forget” it and like the calendar do the work for you. This also makes planning your week out a bit easier.
Pro-tip for your calendar – schedule in downtime for every family member and make sure it happens.
Thriving with a busy family, school and work life, while keeping up a home, is a monster task for any one person. Make a list of all the basic duties that have to get done – house cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc. Consider which tasks your kids can do. You may want to schedule a couple hours one night (or weekend) for the whole family to clean. Put on music and make it as fun as possible. You may also want to look at your budget and see if you can afford things like grocery delivery or house cleaning. The sanity may well be worth it.
Empathy and Extra Communication.
It’s okay to be honest with your kids, and let them know (at times) that you are exhausted. You can also say things like – "we can do that Saturday" – or “no” (see the first tip). Your kids will see you modeling this and use it later in their life to set limits and communicate.
Another part of communication is upping your listening game. Instead of sympathy or thinking you are getting another item on your “to do” list – hear your kids out. Really listen. Then let them know you heard them and understand them (“I can understand why you are upset that we aren’t buying you that new video game.”). While it might sound simple, brain science has shown that empathy helps us get out of anxiety and achieve calm – both for the listener and speaker.
Apply these four tips a little bit every day. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your family (and your life) a lot more. Remember to always be kind to yourself!
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Chris has worked in tech for 30 years, and healthcare tech for 8 of those. He's on the advisory board of Harvard-Based Think:Kids, and runs Rad Dad Rules. He is the proud Dad of two awesome kids, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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