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Finding the balance between family and work

For working women, so much of our lives are about juggling being a wife, primary care-giver and worker. This often means that we have very little time for ourselves and our families. If you’re a career-woman it’s very easy to get caught up in the rat race and find yourself working late at night and on weekends. But, it’s essential to find balance in your work and home life.

So says Robyn Farrell, managing director of 1st for Women Insurance Brokers and mother of two young children.

Breaking down the roles

Research suggests that adult’s roles become even more traditional when they add children to their family. So, tasks become delegated by gender rather than by interest or ability. Managing all of these roles is a great source of stress and often also guilt for women.

Farrell asserts, “Many families do need two wage earners in the family to pay all the bills - but there is a way to keep your career going and bring home the bacon without neglecting your own or your families needs.”   Some women are also the breadwinners or single parents increasing the stress of the situation.

Spillover is when the conditions and relationships in one area of our lives affect us in another area. For example, inflexible work hours, an overbearing boss, or a less-than-positive work environment can have a negative impact on your family life.

Family concerns, such as an unsupportive partner, inequities in the division of housework and child care, significant health problems in family members, or changing child care arrangements can have a negative impact on your work. “But, whatever the situation, there are some processes that you can go through to help you find more balance,” says Farrell, “for instance clarifying values, setting realistic goals and expectations, setting priorities, managing time and letting go control.” 

Finding the Balance

Make sure you manage your time properly. Disorganisation will lead to a less effective usage of time and neither part of your life will benefit from this. “Plan meals and shopping lists in advance so that you only need to shop once a week. Also, perhaps your partner can also do the shopping every other week so that you share this responsibility,” suggest Farrell. This would require you letting go of the idea that only you can do this task. Also, set aside any other chores that need to be done on the weekend which you can do together as a family.

A job that requires long hours or excessive travel will probably have a negative impact on a partnership or parenting role. “If this is the case, perhaps you need to ask yourself some serious questions,” says Farrell. Some of these questions might include: Is this job really that important to me that I am willing to perhaps sacrifice the happiness of my family? Is there a way to cut my working hours but still keep my job even if that means earning less money? Is this situation temporary or permanent? Prioritising is a key component of finding balance. Make choices that empower you and the situation.

Asking for help and allowing others to support you is a necessary step in gaining balance. Perhaps you can start a lift-scheme with another family who is at the same school. Or ask a granny to fetch from school and take to extra murals once a week. Make sure to have trusted help at home that you can rely upon to take care of your children’s’ needs when you are not around.

Family Time

“Being with family is not always about quantity of time but rather quality,” explains Farrell, “when you are with your children or husband, do your best to be present.” This means engaging with them and really listening to them without distractions so put your phone away and the television off. Also, don’t forget that all-important time alone with your partner—a date night is always a good idea. “Make the effort with each other even if you are tired,” adds Farrell.

Planning and communication are central to all change. Other ideas to help balance work and family include: holding family meetings; keeping weekly or monthly schedules that schedule time for both concrete and relational goals; being willing to revise plans when they don’t work or changes need to be made; understanding what you can control and what you can’t, keeping a sense of humour and remembering that finding the balance is a continually evolving process.

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