Making time for the family
Making time for a healthy family, work and social life can be challenging - to say the least. We have this advice and some useful links to get you started.
Find balance in your life
Ask most parents about their work-life balance and you’re likely to be answered with a hollow laugh, followed by the question, “What work-life balance?”
The ‘work’ side of the equation is demanding enough, never mind that under ‘life’ we have to cram in time with our children, time with our partner, housework, sleep and something resembling a social life! It’s no wonder that many of us feel as though we are living life in fast-forward and we rush around looking for the pause button.
And whether you’re a parent who stays at home full-time, or one who goes out to work each day, we are subject to so many conflicting pressures that it’s easy to feel guilty about the way we spend our precious time.
What is Work-Life Balance Anyway?
A healthy work-life balance would be one in which we have some degree of control over how much work we do and the kind of work we do. Nobody else can define what your balance will be – that’s for you and your family to decide. For one person, a fulfilling work-life balance might mean working ten-hour days, five days a week in the job they love, for another it might mean no paid work at all.
Make Work Work For You
Some of us feel we have no choice – either we have to work to pay our bills and mortgage, or perhaps the cost of childcare makes work financially impossible. However, this is a good moment to be a parent, with employees now enjoying the legal right to request flexible working practices from their company. These include part-time work, flexi-time, working from home or job sharing. After all, the positive changes in the world of work are not all one-sided. Many employers are coming to see the benefits of respecting their employees’ work-life balance, with advantages such as increased productivity, better retention of staff and lower rates of absenteeism.
Why not sit down with your partner to see if you can make both your working life and your non-working life more organised? For example, could you use your lunch hour more creatively, perhaps for study or socialising or even doing your weekly shop online? Why not club together with other parents and arrange a mutual childcare circle so everyone gets a break occasionally without having to pay for an expensive babysitter?
The complicated and ever-changing needs of family life can actually make some things easier. Many parents say having children has sorted out their priorities and made them more savvy about time-management. As Lucy, 32, mother of two and part-time administrator reckons, “It’s easy to be nostalgic about the amount of time I had for myself before I had children, but if I’m being honest, I was no happier then. These days, I’m definitely never bored, I use my time better at work because I’m not there as long, and if I get the odd night out, or an uninterrupted conversation with an old friend, I appreciate every second of it!”
- Planning a Holiday with the Kids: Even planning a holiday with the kids can be stressful. The Supernanny website guides you through the decision process of what kind of break your family needs and where you could go…
- Exercise for Busy Mums: Exercise - we know we should, but where would we find the time? Personal Trainer Melinda Nicci has some practical and realistic ideas to help you get into shape for 2007.
- When a New Child Breaks Your Routine: When a couple become parents their lifestyle is turned upside down. In this article, Paula Hall describes what can be done to ensure the bond isn’t broken by the new arrival…
- Resolving Your Discipline Differences: Relationship Counsellor Paula Hall from Relate has these practical tips for moving on from the one thing you and your partner may never agree about.
Find out more
- Detailed information about the Government’s commitment to help working parents can be found at the Department of Trade and Industry website.
- The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) can be a good source of free advice on your employment rights.
- Direct Gov has useful information on Work-Life Balance and the government support available for families.
- The Work Foundation has some good information about Work Life Balance.