From a Mother: 4 Ways to Help Integrate Your Family and Work Life
Contributed by Rochelle Rodney-Massop
So I came across an opinion article titled ‘my generation has to choose between a child or a career. We can’t afford both’. This resonated with me so much as a parent as its is a day-to-day battle trying to balance these two vital parts of my life. The article really put things into perspective, but I was not going to let it discourage me as I felt it would for some. And it was Tony Robbins who said it clearly, that there is no such thing as a home and work life balance. There is only work-life integration. You cannot separate the two, or they will both suffer. No-one said it would be easy, but one thing I hope I can assure you is that it is not impossible!
And here I would like to show you the four best ways how you can manage the two.
1. Ensure you dedicate some ‘me’ time
If mummy or daddy isn’t happy no-one is happy, that is how it goes.
The kids can always feel the stress and tension coming from you, and so it’s essential that we take some time out for ourselves and recharge. Whether that be soaking in a hot bath, reading a book in bed or drinking some wine and watching TV whilst the kids are asleep. We tend to always try and control everything around us; dealing with the kids’ day in and day out; taking care of everyone else that we tend to forget whether we ate properly that day. Or even get enough sleep. We need to make sure we eat right, and try and take some time to exercise and release that stress. This allows us to better handle our responsibilities. For me personally, someone that battled with postnatal depression, I found keeping a journal really helped alleviated the anxiety I was suffering from and clear my mind.
Mummy/daddy time is so essential for this balance, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. But of course, it is easier said than done. Which is why no. 2 is so important…
2. Try and create a support system around you
Isolating yourself from everyone is only going to affect you dramatically. Don’t they say it takes a community to raise a child? You can’t be afraid to ask for help; if you have people around you, there is someone that can help ease that burden, even just for a little while.
For me, I am lucky enough to have babysitting offers, which I gladly try and take advantage of; but also, making friends with people who have kids is great by joining baby clubs at your local community centre and making arrangements with them if possible. Having that support in place will help you to get things done.
3. Dedicate some valuable time to spending with your kids
They grow up so fast that you don’t want to turn around and they’re eighteen years old, and you only have vague memories of raising them. With or without money you can always find things to do. For me, the rare weekend I will take my kids to the library and read to them. A simple trip like that can mean so much because they are spending quality time with you; despite how busy you are; this is essential.
4. Develop better organisational skills
One key way I personally have successfully integrated both work and home life is through keeping a diary. You know from the beginning of the week when your free time is, and what needs to be prioritised; as well as what can be left till later. Being able to also get up in the mornings and ask yourself what is it you need to achieve that day, and consider what can realistically get done. The key word being realistically. There are only 24 hours in a day, and writing a lengthy to-do list is only going to make you feel exhausted and achieve nothing.
So, to those without kids that have had this question, kids or career? I would tell you that you should not have to choose. You can have both if you really want it. It is not guaranteed you’ll be living in the fanciest of places, and you might have to compromise a lot of the time. It comes with many obstacles, and self-discipline to achieve all that you need to achieve, but from my experience and many others. It is possible with all the above included.
And I hope this can in some way motivate other parents in the same boat, to encourage you to keep pushing; and providing for your families. You are doing an amazing job so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.