Juggling the demands of work and family life can be a challenge for most families. Yet both are important for a sense of fulfilment and contentment.
There is no right way or magic formula. Work and family circumstances vary greatly. Working hours, childcare support, the demands of jobs, how many children we have and activities all are part of the mix. If you feel strained it may be worth taking a step back and making some adjustments.
External support: Who do you know who is juggling similar work and family demands? Are there ways you can pool resources, for example sharing the cost of childcare or baby sitting for each other? Do you have an emergency plan should you need to stay at work longer?
Clear boundaries: Whenever possible, ensure you have clear boundaries between work and family life, and ideally personal time. “Quality time” can mean switching off from work before we spend time with family. Some people listen to relaxing music on the way home, others take it in turns to switch off for half an hour at home.
Personal time: Research has shown that making time for yourself is important for your own happiness and will have a ripple effect on those around you.
Prioritise: Take the time to prioritise what really matters to you. This may sound fairly obvious, but it is easy to overlook.
Talk to your employer: Some offer flexitime, short or compressed work weeks, or working from home. Make suggestions that are positive, show initiative and are open to compromise.
Once you have looked at ways you can improve your work/family life balance, review and adjust them as your needs change. Accept that imbalance some time is inevitable.
Ultimately, we all need to find a solution that works for us.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. Visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk