Balancing work and family? It can be a struggle. In my experience, some weeks there’s no balance, just a constant juggle to handle the responsibilities of work and family life.
If you’re like me and are looking for ways to manage, here’s some of my tips and some from my lovely readers that might help.
Tip #1: Work part-time or job-share if you can. I know it’s not an option for some parents but it’s great if you can get it.
Reader tip from Peta T: Only working part-time while the kids are little, having quality care that is close to home.
Tip #2: Investigate if you can work from home some days or do extra hours at home to reduce work hours.
Reader Tip from Richelle A: One night a week reserved for late night work – that way I can leave every other day to pick up kids by 4 and have one night to keep on top of the “professional” hours.
Tip #3: Block out your calendar so that no one can book meetings in at the beginning or end of your day. You don’t need the added stress of trying to get to an early meeting when you are doing daycare or school drop-offs. Guaranteed something will go wrong.
Tip #4: Line up emergency childcare just in case you need someone to look after your child when they’re sick and you’ve got a day at work you can’t miss – such as an important presentation, meeting or job interview. Also, ensure that you’ve authorized someone to pick up your children from daycare in case you can’t make it in time.
Tip #5: Organise clean and ironed school and work clothes for the week on Sunday. Keep a spare outfit for you and your kids in the house and in the car in case of drool, Vegemite fingers or exploding juice. (Learned this the hard way!). This will save you the racing around the house to get replacement clothes. Also stash a hairbush, toothbrush and toothpaste in the car as well.
Tip #6: Leave enough time in the morning so you’re not racing around. My friend Di gets up extra early to have time to shower, eat breakfast, make lunches and gets changed in peace before waking her children and beginning the chaos of getting them ready and fed for daycare & school.
Tip #7: Put everything you need for the day in the car the night before such as daycare paraphernalia, school assignments and bags, work laptop and files.
Tip #8: Have a family calendar that everyone can access whether it’s on the fridge, online or somewhere else. Put all appointments, birthday parties, concerts, holidays, work shifts, work trips, etc. on it so it’s all there and not forgotten. Check the calendar daily and remind family members of what’s happening. Learned this tip from reader and local mum Marissa Roberts from Beautifully Organised. Check out her blog for other fantastic tips.
Reader Tip from Annie B: Online grocery shopping, having a cleaner, paying bills in automatic fortnightly payments so bills are always in credit are just a few things to make life easier & simplistic.
Tip #9: Plan your meals for the week so you know what you are having for dinner each day. Do meal preparation in advance so that’s it easy to come home and cook.
Tip #10: Cook and freeze meals in advance.
Reader Tip from Joanna T: Meal planning for the week ahead for sure.
Reader Tip from Jacqui S: Be organised, cook meals on a day off and freeze them.
Reader Tip from Jenny T: Use a slow cooker. I cook meals in it on a weekend to freeze.
Tip #11: Keep supplies in the pantry so you can always throw together a meal in a hurry. E.g. pasta, sundried tomatoes and marinated vegetables, cans of tuna, salmon, etc.
Tip #12: Have the phone number of your favourite takeaway place for those times that you don’t have the time or energy to get dinner organized.
Tip #13: Implement a housework schedule. Do it in bits and pieces over a week or just do it all in one go when you have time. I recommend Speed Cleaning book by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming which has great tips on saving time when you’re cleaning.
Reader Tip from Jenny T – Send dad & bubs out for an hour or two on a Saturday and blitz your housework in that time.
Reader Tip from Annie B: We have reduced toys & clutter in our house so less time is spent cleaning etc. Also really thinking about purchases and not shopping as often. Getting children to be creative in play & make use of what they have.
Tip #14: Make housework a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy.
Reader Tip from Nikki B: We have started a lucky dip chore game. All the jobs that need doing on a Saturday or Sunday get popped into a bowl, all scrunched up. Each child picks out a job and gets to work!
Reader Tip from Siggy L: Share chores with hubby, we identified chores the other partner dislikes doing less… And get kids involved with age appropriate tasks like empty dishwasher, setting table, empty school bag, water plants. You can make it fun!
Tip #15: Don’t stress. Sometimes your house will be messy and you won’t get chores done. This is life with kids.
Tip #16: Stay on top of it. Try to do a load a day if you can and put it away as soon as it’s dry. (I so need to work on this. I’m guilty of having laundry baskets of clean clothes hanging around).
Reader Tip from Jenny T: Do your washing in the evenings so it’s ready to hang out that night – in summer it will be dry by 10am and in winter if you put it on the airer in the house, you can easily transfer that outside during the day.
Reader Tip from Sally M: I sit on the ground & fold washing while my two year old plays close by. That way I can still sit & interact at his level while doing some needed housework.
Time for Yourself and Family
Tip #17: Make time to enjoy yourself. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you’re juggling work and family. Once in a while, go off and enjoy some alone time. Think dinner, movie or coffee with a friend. Maybe a yoga session or massage to relax. Just do something for you.
Tip #18: If you start to feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do, ask for help from your partner and kids. With relatives and friends, think of mutually beneficial exchanges you can do. E.g. trading babysitting, cooking, etc,
Reader Tip from Nicole R: Accept help when it’s offered and seek help when it’s needed.
Tip #19: Connect with your partner every so often. It’s easy to lose sight of your relationship when you’re a busy parent.
Reader Tip from Sieglinde: I feel better in balance if I have a regular date with hubby to reconnect, doesn’t always have to be a fancy night out but a quick coffee catch up, walk along foreshore or even have brunch together at home (put kids in front of TV or something for half an hour of uninterrupted conversation).
Reader #20: Cut back on activities if life is getting too busy.
Reader Tip from Nikki B: I have become better at slowing down our life, not as many social engagements.
Reader Tip from Annie B: Another thing is don’t over schedule yourself or the kids. Don’t agree to go to events you really don’t want to go to! Plan a day in your week to have time for busy periods (eg kids in daycare). Use this time to clean or catch up on work. Look after yourself eg. gym time etc … Keep yourself sane!