By Jamie Leboe
Since our less-stressed summer schedules are about to end and beat-the-clock demands of the school year are just beginning… let’s talk about family and keeping the balance.
In today’s society, more families than ever before are made up of all adults in a household working full-time outside of the home. Therefore, it is so important to have a good work-life balance. We have to balance family, leisure activities, house chores, and so much more. It is hard to fit in time for everything that we need to do and that we want to do. While it is important to get a great deal of gratification from our career, it is equally as important to have a fulfilling life outside of work. Carving out time for family, friends, and fun boosts our health – physical and emotional – and actually makes us more productive when we are back at work.
I have found that there are some things that can help keep that balance intact.
- Remember, location matters. It’s helpful to find activities that are close to home or work so that, geographically speaking, they don’t add to your stress. Say you enjoy yoga, find a studio on your way home from work and sign up for a class that starts shortly after your workday ends.
- Use a calendar. Write everything down or use the calendar on your phone or computer. Combine your work and family calendars so you can quickly and easily see what’s on your plate each day or in the week ahead. Set pop-up reminders that factor in travel (and traffic) time so you are prompted to leave work with the leeway you need to get to your destination on time. The stress we feel from running late wreaks havoc on physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Decide what’s important, then make it a priority. For me, participating in my children’s activities both in and out of school is extremely important, so I make sure to fit that in as often as I can. For other people, it may be date night with your spouse, a visit with your parents, or a weekly get-together with your best friend.
- Be realistic. Accept that you’re not going to be able to do everything. I have started to realize that I may not make it to every single activity, but I get to as many as possible. Manage expectations – yours and others’ – of what is reasonable and do-able. Again, coordinating the calendar is key!
- Determine if there is any flexibility to your work schedule. Ask whether your job offers the option of flexing your time so that if you take off an hour or two during one workday, you can make it up on another. When necessary, I have been able to shift my schedule so I can attend a special event at my children’s school.
- Enlist help from family or friends. Consider carpooling and other options. I pick my kids up two or three days a week and I am lucky enough to live within minutes of my parents, who are my greatest support. They pick my kids up the rest of the time. My husband works a variety of hours, but he and I touch base every afternoon so he can share the driving when he is home. If family isn’t available, perhaps other parents would be interested in setting up a carpool or even rotating afterschool childcare coverage.
Sound complicated? It can be. But thinking and planning ahead can go a long way in helping you find a comfortable balance in your life. Granted, it isn’t always easy, but with creativity plus your best problem solving skills, it is usually achievable.
Jamie Leboe is a Career Coach for the JCS Career Center.
Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, the JCS Career Center helps you sharpen the tools you need to succeed. Our professional staff provide job seekers of all abilities and skill levels with customized services including career coaching, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation, job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance.
For more information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbalt.org.