By Jendayi Harris
A few decades ago, it was pretty rare to have both parents working full-time, but now, nearly half of all U.S. households have two full-time working parents. Moms and Dads are putting in full work weeks, and still trying to make enough time for their kids and themselves, which can feel impossible at times. To help take some of the burden off of your shoulders, here are seven things that working parents can do to feel more balanced and in control of their own lives.
- Schedule 1:1’s with each household member like you would your colleagues.
1:1s are time you set aside to connect with your key relationships at home and at work. While they don’t have to be super long, it’s important to make sure they aren’t missed. Your children need your full attention to connect with you about their thoughts and feelings.
Clients tell me all the time that a 1:1 with a spouse can help manage the business side of the relationship, which makes the rest of the relationship more satisfying. These spousal 1:1’s allow you to get the household issues out of the way, so that you can focus on each other’s well-being the rest of the week.
- Schedule a date night with your spouse
Date night doesn’t have to mean going out somewhere fancy, it can be a private dinner at home to really connect. Forget what you have going on at work or the chores that need to be done, just take time to reflect and enjoy one another. These dates night are worth the time it takes to plan and commit to them, with such a high divorce rate, use this time to support the health of your marriage in the long run.
- Make time for fun on your calendar
Yes, fun! Fun is severely underrated these days. Plan a fun event or activity once a month that you’ve always wanted to do. When your fun time is scheduled, you’ll have something to look forward to on weekends rather than the same old TV or movie night. Get active, watch a live musical, go on a hike, take a long walk, host a dinner party; whatever you do, be intentional about enjoying your health, family and friends.
- Plan focused work time during the week
At least once per week, you need a solid 2-4 hours to hammer out project thinking and highly analytical tasks.
Grab a conference room on a floor your team won’t find you, or shut your office door if you’re lucky enough to have one. This necessary time block can be postponed to an early morning or late night if you don’t want to commit to it during a work day.
Make sure it’s an uninterrupted time for you—no messenger, no email, no texting. Turn everything off and get the work that needs to be done, done, ideally during the week, so you can go into your weekend relaxed and emotionally available for your family.
- Commit to daily family time
Commit to certain hours that are “work free” each day. One of our clients, who is a Fortune 500 Marketing VP, did this—she had an agreement with her work peers, team, and SVP that she would be MIA from 5pm to 8pm. During this time, she and her family would have dinner together and get caught up on the day’s adventures. Once 8pm hit, she could complete any unfinished work items Monday through Thursday, complaint free. She also made it clear that Fridays and weekends were only to be interrupted by truly urgent matter, which she also defined exactly what urgent meant for her team members.
According to her, this family time commitment helped her have a better sense of work-life balance, and made her family happy, too.
- Prioritize your sleep
Shawn Stevenson, in his great book, Sleep Smarter, proves a healthy night of sleep is the most productivity thing you can do for your health, mood, and productivity. I always say, a lack of sleep is the root of all evil – evil attitudes that is. Figure out an evening regime that works for you, and make sure to do it every single night to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sleep isn’t a luxury or an option, it’s necessary to feeling and staying healthy, both physically and mentally. One of the biggest ways to improve your sleep is by shutting off computers and cell phones at least two hours before bed time. This nightly routine will signal to your brain that it’s time to turn-off for the night, and it will be calm and relaxed by the time you lay your head on the pillow.
- Honor yourself with 5-10 minutes of solitude per day
Enjoy intentional quiet time and turn off all of the background noise that’s happening for a few minutes daily. For example, I’ll turn off the radio and drive in silence—so I can discern my thoughts and emotions. If you don’t give yourself the chance to listen to your needs, you’ll never be able to meet them.
Trying to balance working and parenting may feel like an uphill battle, but focusing on these seven strategies will make your day-to-day life a little easier. If you need help implementing these strategies in to your life, or have any questions about increasing work-life balance, feel free to contact me any time.