How to Balance Work and Family

Tips from women who've been there

balance work and family

I went back to work 30 hours a week a couple of months ago after being a stay at home Mom for 10 years.  I have two grade school age children and a supportive husband.  I am having a really hard time balancing work and family.  Any tips for me?  Asked by Julia – Portland, OR


heidiJones1I am almost there myself so I feel your pain and your struggle!  One of my biggest fears of going back to work after being home so long is the balance and being used to being there for it all with my kids.  I think it is a constant adjustment for the first year.  You have to give yourself grace and know that it won’t be perfect but that you aren’t doing any harm either.  Looking forward to hearing others weigh in on this one!  Heidi – 30 something


Amy C.That’s a big life change, and I am not surprised you are exhausted as you get into a new groove. I’ve found that planning in advance (even planning quiet time for me) helps tremendously. Every week, I look out for the next few weeks and review my list of what I want to fit in. I then slot in my plans specifically, and confirm with my partner that we don’t have conflicts such that he is available. This helps me a ton, giving me things to look forward to and also helping me prioritize what is most important.  I’d also suggest that you check your own expectations. I can imagine that it would be hard to let go of the ‘doing it all’ mentality when in fact you and your husband are now in a much more ‘sharing the load’ situation. Good luck on this new chapter!  Amy – 40 something


Life CoachAs a coach for working women, I can let you know that you are not alone – and that it is possible to find the balance you are looking for.  I would start by asking each member of your family what they need from you.  Ask them how you make them feel special and what you do that lets them know you love them.

Once you have that list, take a look at all that you are doing for your family.  Are there any items that you could delegate or let go of knowing that they are not most important to your family?

For example; one of my clients used to work in her daughter’s classroom every Thursday morning.  It was not easy for her to make this happen, but she did it because she felt it was important for her daughter.  Once we started working together, she asked her daughter what was important to her and learned that her daughter’s FAVORITE thing is when her mom helps at the monthly “bake sale.”  She likes to help her sell the items and bake cookies.  The Thursday volunteering was fine, but it didn’t really fill the daughter’s need.  My client gave up her weekly Thursday commitment and took on bake sales – a monthly commitment.  She got her Thursday mornings back at the office and was better able to meet her daughter’s needs.  Jamee – 40 something


annGlaserFirst-congratulations on finding a job after 10 years and especially in this job market!  That being said-it is awfully hard to work full time and run a family.  I suggest it is time to start having weekly family meetings.  It is also time to start spreading the wealth of work around the 3 other people in your house.  You first will want to sit down with your husband and get him on board with the need for his and the kids’ help.   Spend time talking about what chores are age appropriate for your children and how much you think they can handle doing. Also, how much is he able/willing to do around the house?  Which chores does he want to do and which chores is he good at accomplishing well.  Then there are always chores that no one wants to do-but someone has to.  Those should also be spread out evenly.

Teaching your children chores around the house is a chore in itself-until they become self-running.  You will need to first model how you want the chore done by doing the chore with your child, then monitor the chore for a few weeks before giving them the sponge and cleanser and sending them to the bathroom alone to clean.  But the joys of having helpers in the house is immense.  And remember-this is just another gift you are giving your children.  The ability to keep their own house clean someday. Good luck!  Ann – 50 something


margeGiuntoliGive yourself transitional time to adapt to this lifestyle change so you don’t go crazy or fall into bed drop dead tired every night.   Take the “want to” out of your vocabulary and lower your expectations as far as what is possible to accomplish.  The 30 hours is not a variable, and will significantly cut into your previous flexibility.  The key to staying sane is organization, so delegate chores out to your family, be more efficient about time spent in the car and on your cell phone (including texting!), but make sure you do everything you can to retain family recreational opportunities and valuable time to yourself.  And be aware that the 30 hours really translates more into 40+ as there is now commute time to be considered, sitting to be arranged, etc etc.  Unfortunately, your primary focus may change from your family to your job.  It’s simply a fact when an impersonal element such as an employer enters the family picture.  Marge – 70 something