Choices about careers and families are much different for women now than they were 50 years ago. Many women today don’t want to have to choose between family vs career. They want both, and society tells us we can have both. But both often means burnout and feeling like you’re not giving enough of yourself to one or the other. So how do you find some sort of balance so that you don’t feel burned out and you can enjoy your family AND your career? Here are some tips for finding the right work and home life balance.
The Choice of Career vs Family
As a woman, I know first hand the choice I made between career and family. I went to college and got my B.S. degree and then I started working and moving up the corporate ladder. I was reluctant to start a family because I knew I wanted to be able to stay home with my babies. That meant that we needed to be in a good stable place financially without too much debt. I hated to lose my place in the work world and I wondered if I would be able to get it back when I was ready to return to work.
I am not the only one choosing career and delaying family. As Money Under 30 points out, “More so than preceding generations, millennials are waiting to start a family — or skipping marriage and kids altogether. Financially and otherwise, there are definite pros and cons.”
I chose career over family until I was 27. Then I got pregnant and my husband took on the main bread winner title while I tinkered with ways to bring in a part time income and be at home with my baby. I knew raising my kids was my priority but I also knew I wanted to earn money. I also missed that feeling of pride in my work. I was searching for family vs career balance.
Finding Balance Between Family And Career
Define Balance For You
First, we need to take a look at what balance even means. It means different things to different people, so what does it look like for you? It can mean limiting your work hours to 40 hours a week and being home for dinner every night, or it can mean working 10-12-hour days 4 days a week so that you can have a long weekend with your family every week. It can mean going into to work early and missing your kids going off to school but being there to see them come back home. Or going in late so you can have family time in the morning. To find the right balance you first need to define what balance means for you. What would be ideal? What are your priorities and non-negotiables?
Create A Schedule
Next you need to work to create a schedule that will give you the balance you need between career and family. It may mean talking to your boss about a flexible schedule or telecommuting. Or maybe it means starting your own business and being your own boss so you can work when it’s right for you. That is actually, how I ended up starting a blog.
It also means asking for help. Why? Because let’s face it, none of us are Super Woman no matter what we think we can handle. Get help from your family by assigning chores for everyone that will alleviate some of your workload at home, giving you more quality time together. Let someone else fold the laundry or empty the dishwasher. No, they might not do it the way you like it done, but at least they’re doing it so learn to accept it. Plus, when everyone pitches in, they learn valuable skills towards their independence.
Enjoy Family Time
Now that you’ve worked out a schedule that gives you quality time with your family, don’t waste it. Enjoy family home evenings together. Create a “no electronics” rule for at least an hour or two a night and enjoy the time together. Plan a family game night or movie night, cook dinner together, help your kids with a school project, or have an ice cream sundae night.
The most important rule to finding balance is to be in-the-moment. When you’re working, being in the moment will make you more productive. When you’re with your family, being in the moment will help you feel you’ve spent quality time together. Don’t stress about your career when you’re with your family. Don’t think about all the chores you need to do at home and what’s for dinner when you’re working. You have to get good at releasing things and focusing on what is in front of you. Practice mindfulness and be in the present.
Lastly, don’t forget about self-care. Taking care of your own needs will help you have the energy you need for both your career and your family. Remember to schedule in some “me time”. Treat yourself to a bubble bath, a massage, or a cup of tea and a good book. Something that makes you feel rested and recharged.
It doesn’t have to be family vs career. We are fortunate enough to get to do both. It is possible to have both a family and a career all while having balance, but it takes some effort, planning, and adjustment. Your work home life balance may shift from week to week and that is natural as things come up. That’s okay, balance is also about being flexible. Only you can decide what matters most and what a balanced life looks like for you. It is ok to say not to some things and to reconsider you schedule when needed. I hope you find the perfect work life balance for you.