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.