For many it can be about the perceived idea of work and life balance; often believing a fixed state between work and family life, striving for a some ‘pitch-perfect’ balance.
But the reality is far different. Many parents get stressed and anxious thinking they’re not getting that work life balance. So it’s about recognising that to achieve the ‘balance’ you need to get clarity on what work life balance means for you.
When I’m talking with a client, it can often feel that work is the first to be sacrificed. We get caught up in the idea that we need to be out at a certain time and work has to wait. The expense of doing that is leaving unfinished tasks or projects.
An important first step to resolving this conflict is owning this side of your work aspirations. There needs to be a point where we give ourselves permission to finish the work we enjoy, and step aside the guilt we can feel by staying late.
It’s so useful to recognise to achieve harmony both at home and at work, we understand that it’s ebb and flow rather than perfect pitch. There are some sacrifices, there may be some modifications to your lifestyle, but it’s important to have the self-awareness to say, “I need this” when it comes to your job. And that’s ok. Comfort yourself knowing that balancing will look like 30/70, 60/40 but not always 50/50.
To those of you who know my content, you’ll know that communication is central to family life success. This is as true as ever when discussing revising your business schedule and the impact it can have on your family. Long gone are the days when a last minute text to say you’ll be home late ‘cuts the mustard’.
Having acknowledged that you will want to work late, it will be time to talk through with your partner how best to accommodate that. What additional support might they need? What can you do to help put that in place? Find solutions together to make it work. I appreciate that it can be challenging to ask for something you want when you may feel like the last priority of the family but there is an upside, a positive to this.
Being a little bit of selfish will allow you to be more selfless. If the idea of leaving projects and tasks unfinished at the end of the day leaves you feeling frustrated and tense, what quality of parenting do you bring? What kind of support can you offer your family or your partner? There is a pay-off that needs to be realised.
Possibly you’ll check your devices less with the work done. You’ll be better able to help take of the children or be a supportive ear for your partner. This all contributes to a better, healthier family environment.
So really audit yourself on what you enjoy doing. If you love your work, but find yourself struggling to get out at a certain time, take a moment, acknowledge the fact that you prefer to stay late some days to finish some work.
Then communicate that with your partner. How to achieve that? Recognise that the reason behind all of this is to make sure that you can be a happier parent, a more present parent. And one that actually supports and nurtures a more positive, happier family life.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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