It’s back to school week and along with the return to routine often comes a renewed busy-ness for families.
Kids are back and forth from school every day, activities are starting up again and work and other commitments seem to ramp back up too as we all shift out of the more relaxed summer schedule.
With all of this change, it is not uncommon to hear people complain about a lack of balance in their lives or feeling overwhelmed keeping up with it all.
A certain amount of this is to be expected given the season, but these sentiments are likely magnified by the way our lives are structured today.
A majority of families now function with both parents working at least part time and need to juggle the activities of children with two careers and still keep a household running.
Maintaining balance can be a daunting task—here are a few tips to help make it a little easier.
First, recognize that pursuing a career and caring for dependent loved ones are both demanding roles. If you are balancing between the two, something will have to give.
Although it is possible for us to do a bit of everything, we simply cannot be all things to all people all the time. That’s just reality.
Giving in to feelings of guilt for your inability to be in two places at once will not help anyone. In fact, it’s harmful to your own health and likely to your ability to successfully balance your responsibilities.
When you come up against conflicting priorities—perhaps an important work meeting takes place at the same time as a special event in your child’s life—you will have to choose one or the other.
If you later regret your decision, try to choose differently next time.
If you are pursuing a career even part time, invest in it when you can. Continue to develop your skills, improve your knowledge and network where possible.
This way you will be prepared if and when you decide to work full time.
If you have a partner—negotiate roles and responsibilities to do with family and household. Generally, it works well to divide tasks based on what each person is best at or prefers and then divide or take turns on the things neither of you particularly enjoy.
It is OK to enlist the help of your children—it is healthy for them to assist with jobs around the house according to their age and ability.
If you’re feeling swamped and you can afford to get paid help—get it. There isn’t any virtue in trying to be a super human. Ask yourself what things you really need to do for yourself and what areas you could use some help with.
On a similar note, try to set realistic standards for yourself. Perfectionism should not be your goal in all areas—an uninvolved or exhausted parent is worse for a child than a messy house, the occasional fast food meal or store bought baking. Be as organized as possible, do what you can, and don’t waste time obsessing about the rest.
Be realistic about what you can take on. If you are barely keeping it together with work and activities, it probably isn’t the best time to take on an added responsibility or volunteer job.
Above all—do what you love whether it’s working, raising children, continuing your education or some combination. Your surest route to happiness is to put your time and energy toward things you find rewarding and fulfilling.