Five ways you can make balancing your family and work MUCH easier
Finding it stressful trying to balance your family and work? Read five ways you can make it MUCH easier.
When you’re trying to balance work and a family, it can often feel there’s just not enough time in the day. And juggling the two can seem like an un-ending and un-winnable struggle.
But it doesn’t have to be hard. With some simple changes to your daily routine and your mindset you’ll find it easier to keep everyone happy – including yourself (and hold onto your sanity).
Five ways you can make balancing your family and work MUCH easier
To help you achieve this, here are five things that have worked for us. Please feel free to try one or all of them, and see what works for you too.
1) Get up one hour earlier
Let’s start with the most painful! As a mother, sleep is one commodity you just don’t have enough of. But trust us, if you can manage it, getting up one hour earlier a day will really repay your sacrifice.
Having that quiet hour before the rest of the house stirs (and chaos ensues) can help you to set your mind for the day. It’s also valuable quiet time, and gives you a sense of routine (or at least having some control over it).
Use this time wisely. You could spend it preparing for your day ahead to give you a head start – make school lunches, prep for dinner, do the ironing (you know, all the fun things…). Or you could get an hour’s uninterrupted work in.
Or, here’s a really crazy idea – spend it on you. Love yoga? Do that. Behind on your favourite TV show? Watch that. Or simply spend it quietly sipping tea while listening to the radio and getting your head around the day.
Think of it as your sanity hour. You can use it catch up, get ahead, or just be ‘you’ before the rest of the world wakes up and expects you to cater to their needs.
2) Set specific times for housework
A few years ago, we were struggling with balancing housework and our business. It felt like we were always behind on one or both, and the mental weight of the never-ending work backing up was exhausting.
But one simple thing changed this: we devised a housework timetable.
It was very simple. We divided up the key household chores between five half hour slots, Monday to Friday, making sure we grouped similar tasks together. Each half hour was to be done straight after the school run, before we sat down to work.
And the difference it made was amazing.
Having a half hour slot was mentally do-able. And we were able to power through the tasks quickly each day – often achieving more than we’d set ourselves. We could then mentally clear our head of housework and focus just on our business.
We also got the rest of the family involved too, allocating appropriate tasks to each member so they pulled their weight.
So if you’re struggling under the weight of housework, consider doing something similar. Set a time and routine for your chores, and forget about it for the rest of the day.
3) Create boundaries for your work – and stick to them
This advice comes up a LOT when we talk about working from home. Trust us, trying to please everyone, and do too many things at once just leads to stress and extra work.
Instead, define clear boundaries for your work – when and where you do it – and switch on and off accordingly. (If you work for someone else, you may need to sit down with them to negotiate when you do and don’t check in with work.)
This means turning OFF your phone (or at least work-based notifications – including social media) when you’re not working. It means NOT checking your email just before bed. And it means turning down ‘quick coffees’ with friends when you’ve set aside time to work.
The more you respect your own boundaries, the more they’ll work for you. And they’re worth protecting. When you’re clear about when you work, you’ll find it easier to switch off from everything else and work productively. And just as easy to leave work behind and really focus on the rest of your life when it’s not.
It also helps having a defined workplace you can close up or walk away from at the end of the working day. Having your unfinished to-do list taunting you as you try and relax on the sofa in the evening won’t help you get the mental space you need to come back refreshed the next day.
4) Plan meals and pre-cook
If you’re a mother and you have a stack of work to get through, you can’t simply grab a sandwich or takeaway and carry on. Unless your partner is on hand to help out, you need to stop and feed your family.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be chained to a stove every night. Or panic scavenging the fridge for something you can throw together into a heathy(ish) meal your kids will actually eat.
With a bit of advanced planning and prep, you’ll easily be able to whip up an edible meal every night – and buy some extra time to work or spend with your kids.
If you really want to win, get your kids involved in coming up with meal ideas every week, then plan out a meal schedule and shop for everything you need. Some meals you may make fresh every night, but others (like lasagne, cottage pie, and stews) can be pre-made and frozen, ready to take out when you need them.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it really can make a difference. Once you get into the habit of planning for your week ahead it takes so much stress and work out of meal times. Plus it makes shopping easier and cuts down on wastage.
5) Know your limits (and respect them)
You’re not a robot, you’re a human being. And this means that sometimes you just don’t have the will or energy to do something, or simply need to take time for yourself. So recognise when you need to slow down or stop, and do so.
Forcing yourself to work harder or longer will just exhaust you and make you resentful. You won’t enjoy your work or home life, and will manage neither particularly well (it’s difficult to be creative if you’re stressed and exhausted). Carry on in this way and you could start storing up a host of physical and mental wellbeing issues.
Be kind to yourself too. You can’t be perfect all the time (or even most of it!). Accept that you’re doing your best, and make peace with the times that doesn’t translate into perfection.
Burned dinners and unwashed school uniform aren’t disasters – and nor will they mentally scar your children. They’re just something you’ll deal with in the moment and get over. Life really is too short to sweat things like this; instead save your energies for bigger challenges and learn to laugh at the every day setbacks.
Read more advice on balancing work and family
You’ll find more practical tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance in these articles: