It’s every parent’s dream to create a happy home and amazing experiences for their family. Every day, as a parent, you do your very best to make it all happen: you cook, tidy the house, clean the little ones, drop them off to school, go to work, take them to their football practice or whichever extra curriculum activity they do, and sleep. You basically strive to be on top of everything to make your family happy, but being able to balance work and family life can be like mirage in sandy deserts for many busy parents.
The truth of the matter is that this is not easy! You know it, and every other parent out there knows it– unless they live in their own perfect little bubble. When, every day, you’ve only got 24 hours to complete a long to-do list, including work and your own sleeping time, creating a happy home and lovely memories for your family can become a real challenge or even weight on your shoulders.
You need to balance work and family life, and you need it now
Sometimes the more you push yourself to complete the mammoth tasks you have, the more tired and stressed you get. But, the parent in you tells you to keep going. So, you play down the signs of fatigue and stress around you. At times, your life can feel like a race against the clock. Your days are about doing this or finishing that for your work, your home or your children, and the weight of achieving it all at all cost can leave you feeling irritable and constantly worried. As you spend less time relaxing with your little ones, your partner or just yourself, you miss on opportunities to create the same lovely memories that you want everyone to cherish, and nobody likes that!
So, you’re eager to change things, to get the work life balance right. If you could, you would probably pay for someone to lighten your workload. Getting a cleaner to clean your house and do your laundry at least once a week would no doubt make it possible for you to balance work and family life. However, the majority of families out there cannot get this type of help.
You’ve got to come up with other ways to find the time for what really matters in your life. You’ve got to find a way to better balance your work and your family life as a parent. This may be hard, but one thing is certain, you don’t need to break the bank to be more present for your family, and less stressed about life or work. Being super-organised may just be what you can look into to solve your time equations.
Find the work life balance that works for you and your family through planning
Being organised brings plans and order in your life, giving you a clear vision of what you need to achieve and how you will achieve it. Your well-organised plan can be the map that gives you direction and a sense of control over your life and your home. And it allows for flexibility, because like having a map you may get lost in your journey, but thanks to your map you can find your way back on track. So being organised is not synonymous to perfection; it’s a way to find clarity and some level of control when life feels overwhelming. Ultimately, it will help you to feel more relaxed with a good work/life balance.
When you are super busy, thinking about a well-organised plan in itself can feel like another demanding task. You may not know where to start or may not find the time to do the research to inspire your plan. But this is an alternative that can bring the balance that you need to create those happy moments in your family life. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
1) Start by writing your overarching plan
This is your map. A lot of times, we have ideas or light-bulb moments. But we often forget them because we don’t write them down, and therefore miss the chance to try if they could have worked out. So, take an hour or two to think about the key tasks and responsibilities you have, and how you can break them down across days, weeks or months to achieve them.
Think also about the activities that you would like to do together as a family, your children’s extra curriculum activities and your own personal activities. Put them all in your planner. This will ensure that most of your family’s activities are clear to everyone and will avoid the stress that can come with preventable timetable clashes. This plan is not set in stone. You can always go back to add or remove items to make sure that you achieve the most out of it as a planning tool.
2) Create your meal plans
Cooking and eating are an integral part of our lives, but they can also be sources of stress in our day-to-day family lives. The idea of not knowing what your family will have for dinner, for instance, can really stress out a working parent with limited time in their hands.
Like the overarching plan, a meal plan can be a good guide to relieve some of the stress that comes with top family tasks. Whether we like it or not, the food thinking process, including working out our dinners, lunches and breakfasts, makes our brain work and therefore uses some of our energy. A meal plan can reduce the energy we spend on this particular thought process.
Your meal plan is simply a list of dishes that you plan to have on a weekly or even monthly basis. This is not set in stone. You can always modify or review it whenever you wish to. When you have one:
a) you will spend less time thinking about planning meals on a day-to-day basis (that time can be allocated to something else
b) your food shopping will be done according to what you plan to eat rather than what you think you will eat (this can help to save money and reduce food waste), and
c) your cooking can be faster as you will know exactly what you are cooking.
3) Choose your weekly laundry day (s)
This never goes away; it’s many parents’ nightmare. You can set up a dedicated laundry day every week to change your bedding and collect everyone’s dirty laundry to clean. Once your clean laundry is dry, you can spare an hour to fold, iron, and put them in their respective places. This can help you to have less piled up laundry baskets (clean and dirty) that can be daunting to think about and sort out.
4) Cleaning and tidying up
Doing these two as you go is no doubt the most ideal scenario, but it never always happens every single day for most people. It is surely understandable to have a messy home from time to time, especially when you have children. The challenge is, however, to ensure that the occasional messiness remains just that, and does not go out of control.
Having a weekly cleaning day, where every member of your family can lend in a hand, can help to overcome this challenge. Depending on the size of your family and home, this may take one to two hours, especially if it’s done on a regular basis. Making this day a fun day by playing your favourite music out loud, and preparing a treat for everyone involved can do the trick, and may see this day become a tolerated family routine.
5) Last but not least, get your work clothes/children’s clothes ready the night before
With this planning method, you will know where everything is, and the morning rush will be more manageable in your family. This can save you so much stress in the morning.
Remember that when life starts to feel overwhelming and stressful, you can try to plan more and be consistently well-organised. This can help you balance work and family life, giving yourself some control over your life and your home. While trying this, bear in mind there is never a one-size-fits-all solution for most problems we face in life.
These four types are preventative methods that can help you manage the day-to-day stress that can emerge from juggling family life and work. However, sometimes, regardless of the protective mechanisms that we put in place, life can be just very demanding to the point of really stressing us out. When we reach a very low point, seeking help is paramount for own and our family wellbeing. (if you know someone who is dealing with stress, this article on how to deal with stress can be helpful).
Finally, if being well-organised and having plans for meals, outings, and so on can help you feel less stressed, more present for your family, and in an overall better mood to create happy memories for your family and yourself. This can become a sustainable lifestyle choice that can bear many positive fruits in your working parent life. If you have any more ideas on how to balance work and family life, please share them in the comment section.