Parents with responsibilities at work and at home commonly struggle to find balance between these two often conflicting sets of obligations. Surveys have indicated that working professionals who work less are more likely to be happy with their work-life balance than those who burn the midnight oil at work, but for many adults, working less is not always an option.
A 2012 report from New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development found that the percentage of working professionals who were very satisfied or satisfied with their work-life balance declined as their hours worked increased. Canada’s General Social Survey discovered similar results, noting that, while the majority of working parents were satisfied with their work-life balance, those who were not most frequently cited their dissatisfaction at not having enough time for family life as the main culprit behind their discontent.
Creating a better work-life balance is an ongoing commitment, and even working parents who employ the following strategies may find they need to periodically tweak their routines so they can fulfill their obligations at home and at the office.
Schedule family time.
- Since working professionals unhappy with their work-life balance often cite lack of family time as the reason for that dissatisfaction, finding time for family may be the key to changing that outlook. Schedule time for family just as you schedule the rest of your daily commitments. Listing family dinners or activities in your daily schedule will ensure you don’t mistakenly schedule other activities during family time.
Employ technology where possible.
- Some working parents may feel as though technology has made it harder than ever to leave work at the office. But while smartphones, tablets and other devices may mean you’re never too far away from work, technology also can be used to create more time with loved ones. Employ an app such as FaceTime to eat lunch with your spouse or chat with your children each day. Such interactions may not be as enjoyable as face-to-face interactions, but building them into your day can help you stay in touch with family and provide a welcome respite from busy workdays.
Use your vacation days.
- A recent study from Project: Time Off, a national movement aimed at highlighting the important role that time off from work can play in the lives of professionals, 55 percent of Americans did not use their full allotment of vacation days in 2015. That translated to 658 million unused vacation days, 222 million of which could not be carried over into 2016. Professionals who want to create a better work-life balance can examine their vacation day usage and resolve to use them all if they are not already. Parents can use vacation days on national holidays when schools are closed so they can squeeze in family time even when they are not going on trips.
Parents who put their minds to it can create a more fulfilling work-life balance. WT175976
Few people want to face their own mortality when they are in the prime of their lives. However, thinking ahead and making advanced plans can save family members considerable heartache. Life insurance policies can help men and women make things easier for their spouses, children or siblings. Life insurance provides financial security in the event of a person’s death. Such insurance is a key element of estate planning and something all adults must consider. It’s smart to purchase life insurance at a relatively young age because the cost can be lower. Some people put off the process because it can be overwhelming. But Forbes magazine advises that once a person does a little research and learns the terminology associated with life insurance, choosing a policy is not so difficult.
Determine the amount of insurance you will need.
Make a list of expected expenses after you pass away. These may include any residual mortgage payments, school tuitions, automotive payments, or funeral expenses. In addition, approximate how much your family will need to live comfortably in your absence. Online calculators can help determine life insurance coverage needs. The New York Life Insurance Company says a quick way to figure out how much coverage you may need is to take your annual salary and multiply it by eight.
Decide on the type of policy.
Life insurance policies come in two broad categories: term and whole life. Term life insurance may be less expensive upfront, as it only provides coverage for a set number of years. It will only pay out if the policy holder dies during this “term.” Whole life insurance, also called “cash value,” usually costs more, but accumulates a cash value that can be borrowed against, and it pays out whenever a person passes away.
Choose among reputable companies.
You want to ensure the life insurance company you pick will be around for years and has a strong reputation, so give ample consideration to each company you explore before making a final decision.
Know the waiting period.
Many policies establish a period of time on policies wherein there is very little cash-out value and the company will not pay out the full death benefit. This may be a year or two after opening the policy. Discuss this information with the insurance agent. Life insurance can be a smart financial choice, helping men and women rest easy that their families will want for nothing in the wake of their deaths.
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Balancing work and family life is a major challenge for many professionals. Many established professionals find it stressful to juggle the demands of successful careers with the obligations they have to their families, and regaining that balance once it has been lost only adds to that stress.
Part of the difficulty of balancing work and family life is that the challenge is ongoing. The threat of losing your work-life balanceis never too far away, but there are steps men and women can take to regain that balance once it’s been lost.
* Start documenting your activities. No one operates at 100 percent efficiency all the time, but balancing obligations at work with those at home is especially difficult when time is routinely lost to trivial matters or tasks at work that can be delegated to others. These time-consuming tasks have a tendency to add up, but professionals rarely take note of the smaller tasks or distractions that cost them time. Start documenting your activities on a daily basis, jotting down how each hour of your day is spent, both at home and at work. Do this for several weeks, after which time a pattern will likely develop, and you can see where you are wasting time and where you are being most efficient with your time. When you sit down to examine your notes, look for ways to free up time without sacrificing the quality of your work or the quality of time you spend with your family. Don’t be afraid to make changes.
* Don’t go it alone. Teamwork is important at home and around the office and can help overburdened professionals regain their work-life balance. If you tend to go it alone in the office, reach out to your colleagues more often, seeking their help on projects and offering your help in return. This can drastically cut back on the hours you spend in the office, giving you more quality time at home. But you also can work with your family to free up more time. Assign tasks around the house so you aren’t doing chores during the time you do have at home. Split cooking duties with your spouse or even the kids if they’re old enough and delegate other household tasks as well. Such tasks can be tackled while you’re at work so the family can spend more time together each night and on weekends.
* Stop emulating Atlas. In Greek mythology, Atlas was condemned to standing at the edge of the Earth and holding the weight of Uranus on his shoulders. Many professionals can no doubt empathize with Atlas, even if taking such weight on their shoulders was self-inflicted. Regaining work-life balance may require taking some of that weight off of your shoulders by learning to respectfully decline extra projects around the office or in your personal life. You can still pitch in on special projects at work without spearheading them, much like you can still spend time with your kids at the ballpark even if you aren’t their coach. Cutting back on your obligations is a great way to reduce stress and free up time to focus on the things that mean the most to you.
* Think outside the box. If you have examined your daily activities and commitments but can’t seem to find any ways to regain your work-life balance, start looking for unique ways to make the time you spend at work and the time you spend at home more proportionate. Consider telecommuting one or two days per week to free up time to spend with your family. If moving is an option, consider moving closer to your office so you aren’t spending so much time commuting to and from work each day. Even if you have seemingly exhausted all options, chances are strong there is a solution to help you regain your work-life balance. But sometimes that balance requires a little creativity and some give-and-take with both your employer and your family. [LP143954]