If you’re a working parent, handling everything life has thrown at you this year, may the force be with you. Like Luke learning to be a Jedi master, balancing work with family at home is next-level challenging. Kids running behind someone or curiously joining a Zoom meeting may be the norm now, but with the extended nature of our situation, we are here to help you make a game plan.
2020 Brings New Challenges For Parents In A Big Way
Even parents that were used to working remotely are now experiencing more strain and demand for their time than before the pandemic. So, is it possible to be a parent, teacher, chef, nurse, coach, online learning expert, and do your day job? If you want a realistic answer, probably not.
That’s why we put together this list of ways to re-frame your thinking about balancing work with family time. These tips break down how to better prioritize your time, and handle the stress of a demanding job without letting it consume you.
Know You Don’t Have To Do Everything
First, make room for forgiving yourself. Creating a sustainable work-life balance is an ongoing process that must include realistic expectations of what you can accomplish. Finding and acknowledging your own threshold, where you’ve stared at the screen for so many hours you can’t think straight, is the first step in untangling yourself from the myth of 24/7 productivity.
The benefit of this pandemic being a global event is that everyone is experiencing the same challenges, and we are building a road map together. Afraid to ask for extra time on a project because it should have been done already? This is a part of re-adjusting our expectations to match what is feasible. Honest communication with your team and your manager becomes a bridge for managing burnout and finding balance. Plus, discussing a realistic timeline is a better approach than thinking you can handle something alone and not delivering due to stress and work overload.
Get Strategic About Focus And Working Hours
Getting strategic about focus means planning your days ahead of time. More companies than not are acknowledging a need for flexible work schedules, and employees should be open and creative about what works best for them. Scheduling your “on” and “off” hours during the day can be hugely beneficial. This way, everyone from your team to your family will know when you can provide them your undivided attention.
For example, if you know you can work more effectively after 8 PM when the kids are asleep, express to your team when you will and will not be online or answering emails. If your family needs you at the start of each day, allow yourself that time each morning, and then pick up where you left off at a later point.
You can also make focusing a more rewarding experience. Notably, the Pomodoro technique recommends fully focusing for 25-minute blocks, then taking a short break to refresh. After four blocks of “pomodoros,” it’s time to take a longer break to refresh your creativity. Try the new focus app, Flora, that gamifies the Pomodoro technique and pushes you to avoid scrolling when you’re trying to focus.
Organize, Organize, Organize
Commenting on work-life balance, Founder of MetaLab Andrew Wilkinson said, “you don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful. It’s natural to look back and mythologize the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success isn’t about working hard, it’s about working smart.” With regards to working smart, we all have a threshold for maximum productivity that is less malleable than we would like to admit. This is where organization comes in to save the day.
Have your child help build a list of activities they like to do and a few chores they are capable of doing on their own. Each day, ask your child to choose four or five of these tasks that they will do while you are working. Be aware of overloading their list, it should be manageable, not endless(this goes for adults too). Use fun colors, stickers, anything that makes the process engaging.
When your child completes their chosen tasks, come up with a reward system or end-of-the-day special time with you to celebrate their independence. Even older kids may need more attention than usual. Understanding that this time is also hard on children, missing their friends and their extra-curricular activities, expands our sense of empathy because they need support too.
The Biggest Takeaways From Balancing Work With Family
Balancing work with family may be the ultimate multi-tasking challenge, but with some intention and organization, your time at home can be less frantic. When there are a million distractions from our home life, pulling us different directions, outlining your intention for the day/month/year will make it easier to block out the noise.
In summary, while it may feel like life is hurdling by, take a moment to breathe. Writing out how you work best and creating structure for your family will benefit everyone in your household in the long run. Don’t forget to plan time for fun and just enjoying your family. Also take the time to acknowledge how much you have accomplished as a parent so far this year, and know you are not alone.
And finally, although we did not extensively cover it in this piece, self-care is the underlying foundation of balancing work with family. No one can manage children and a household without space for recovery, relaxation, and rest. Find your time for peace, your outlet for exercise, whatever it may be that keeps you grounded, and hold onto it. As we enter a new school year, all of us at BWBacon wish your family to have a smooth sailing, healthy year.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!