There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life, and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task. Technology that enables constant connection to work can eat into time at home. Work-life balance can be especially difficult for parents of young children; almost 60 percent of employed first-time mothers in the United States return to work within 12 weeks after childbirth.
Still, work-life balance isn’t out of reach. Start by evaluating your relationship to work. Then apply specific strategies to help you strike a healthier balance.
Consider the Cost. It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload — or simply keeping your head above water. If you’re spending most of your time working, though, your home life will take a hit. Consider the consequences of poor work-life balance:
Fatigue. When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer, which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.
Poor health. Stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition. Stress also puts you at risk of substance abuse.
Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you’re working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It’s also difficult to nurture friendships if you’re always working.
Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility, which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.
Find a Healthy Balance
As long as you’re working, juggling the demands of career and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. But if you can learn both to set limits and look after yourself, you can achieve the work-life balance that’s best for you:
Setting limits. You can’t manufacture time. If you don’t set limits, then work or other obligations can leave you with no time for the activities and relationships you enjoy.
Track your time. Pay attention to your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you the most.
Manage your time. Cut or delegate activities you don’t enjoy or can’t handle or You work hard in a high-stress job. You fight traffic to pick your kids up from daycare, school or sports. Then you go from chauffeur to chef at home. No wonder toddler tantrums, or teenage rebellion can push a parent over the edge. Learning to manage stress can give you the patience, energy and perspective to be the parent you want to be. And it will pay dividends for your health and ability to function well.
Here are some stress management tips for parents from pediatric experts:
share your concerns and possible solutions with your employer or others. Organize household tasks efficiently, such as running errands in batches or doing a load of laundry every day; don’t save all the laundry for your day off. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.
Make a list. Put family events on a weekly calendar and keep a daily to-do list at home and at work. Having a plan helps you maintain focus. When you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to be sucked into the plans and priorities of others.
Learn to say no. Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for activities that are meaningful to you.
Leave work at work. Whenever possible, try to maintain appropriate boundaries between work and home. While it may be unrealistic to think that work responsibilities will never impact your personal or family life, it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries between your work and personal life so that you are able to give your best to both.
Remember that your EAP is a resource. Whenever life’s challenges feel too difficult to handle on your own, consider calling your EAP for help. Your EAP provides expert guidance and valuable resources to restore and strengthen your health, productivity, and quality of life. All EAP services are free and completely confidential.
Source: SupportLinc EAP