Do you struggle with balancing work and family? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey from the Center for American Progress, 90 percent of American mothers report work-family conflict. At times our work can feel overwhelming and become all-consuming.
So why do you work so hard? If you’re like most Americans, family is one of the biggest reasons. You want to provide a good life for your loved ones. Isn’t it ironic? Working long hours keeps us away from our family … the very people we’re working so hard to provide for. It’s a vicious cycle.
More important than money or a nice lifestyle, your family needs your time. Time is the most important thing you can give your loved ones. So how can we spend more time with family when we’re consumed with work? Here are some tips to help you focus on family.
- Schedule family time on your calendar. Just as you schedule important meetings, block out time on your calendar to spend with family. If you don’t make it a priority and plan for it, the time will get sucked up in other activities.
- Focus fully on your family during family time. Turn off your electronic devices, including your computer, PDA, and cell phone. Enjoy the time with your family without distractions.
- Enjoy eating dinner together a few times a week. Make it a priority to sit down to a family meal all together (and turn off the TV and cell phones). Dinner time is a great time to catch up with family members at the end of a busy day.
- Rearrange your work schedule. Take advantage of flex-time if your company offers it. If you want to see your kids off to school, come in to work a little later than normal. Or if you’d prefer to spend time with your kids after school, start your work day early in the morning, so you can leave work by 3:00 p.m.
- Hire household help. Rather than spend your weekends doing household chores and yard work, hire someone else to do it. That frees you up to spend leisure time with your family.
- Combine business travel with vacation. When possible, bring your spouse and kids along when you travel for work, especially if you’re traveling to a fun destination. They can enjoy time exploring the city while you work, and you can all have fun together once you’re off work.
Try out these tips in order to give your family what they need most – your time. You’ll all benefit from richer family relationships.
To learn more about how to balance work and family, read Passport to Priorities: Your Road Map to Balanced Living.
As a working mom, it’s challenging to manage both work and family. Sometimes we get so involved in work, that our family life feels disjointed. With both you and your husband working, and the kids going to school and participating in sports or other activities, it can feel like you’re all pulled in a lot of different directions. It’s hard to coordinate schedules with evening meetings, soccer practice, dance class, and youth group. And with everyone so busy, tensions rise, and quarrels erupt. How do you manage your family life, much less find time for family?
Family meetings can make all the difference! By scheduling regular time for family members to meet together, you can not only maintain effective relationships, but also become even closer as a family. Weekly family meetings serve four purposes: planning and coordination, problem-solving, teaching, and fun.
The first step is to commit to family time; make it a priority. Find a time when all family members in the household can spend time together. For our family, Sunday nights are family time. We’ve practiced this for ten years now. Occasionally, we need to reschedule to another night, but we try to keep it consistent.
During your family meeting or family time:
- Plan activities and coordinate schedules – Review the family calendar to see who’s doing what during the week. This allows you to keep informed and to coordinate car pools, etc. Also, use this time to plan your family vacation or holidays.
- Discuss and resolve issues – Allow family members to bring up issues. These can be any issues – from homework, chores, allowance, sibling rivalry, sharing a bathroom, time for TV/video games, etc. Then discuss and resolve these issues. At a past family meeting, my son negotiated a higher allowance!
- Teach your children – Use this time to share basic principles or reinforce your values. We do a short family devotion from the Bible. For example, we spent time each week discussing a “fruit of the Spirit”, such as love, kindness, patience, etc.
- Have fun together – Take time for fun too! After each family meeting, we participate in a fun family activity, such as eating dinner out, going to a movie, going out for ice cream or frozen yogurt, playing a game, etc. Each week we rotate who gets to choose the family activity. My kids always look forward to their turn to choose!
So, what are you waiting for? Schedule some ‘family time’ and get started next week. Over time, you’ll find that your household runs more smoothly, and you’ll enjoy closer family relationships!