Are You a Work From Home Parent? Here’s How to Develop a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Maybe, like me, you are a parent who does much of your work from home. If so, you are intimately familiar with the difficulties of managing a family and a career in the same location. The Pew Research Center states that up to 52% of parents having kids younger than 12 years report difficulties in striking a balance between work and childcare duties. Fortunately, guest author Jason Kenner reached out to share helpful strategies to support you in achieving the elusive work-life balance.
1. Plan Each Day in Advance
Instead of waking up and facing whatever comes next, take the initiative to get organized the night before. Here’s a list of things I try to complete before going to bed each night:
Keep Meals Ready: This involves meal prepping in advance and portioning food in microwave-friendly boxes, making them ready to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Schedule Emails for Early Morning: Whether there’s a plan to be submitted or received, I schedule emails to the respective stakeholders the night before. This reduces the need to spend an hour sending emails first thing in the morning. The time saved can be used towards breakfast, getting kids ready for school, exercising, and other healthy activities.
Create a To-do List: With a list in hand, I’m ready to attack the day from the get-go rather than having to chase deadlines.
Maintain a Routine: While it took some time to form good habits, once I did, it made everything easier. Completing the same task at the same time each day provides me with some much-needed predictability and control over actions and expectations.
2. Hire Professional Help
One thing my experience working from home has taught me is that working long hours and managing childcare together is not sustainable. Most of the time, I ended up giving each of these things less attention than they deserved, as there were simply too many things to do at once.
The best way to get things off my plate was to hire professional help. With a babysitter, things become much easier to handle. Whether it be picking up kids for school or ensuring they each are on time, I do not need to worry about any of these tasks. As a result, I was able to focus solely on my work leading to an increase in productivity and stress reduction.
Finding a good babysitter can be a long process. But, the go-to place to start was my network of family and friends. Once I received references, I set up interviews, requested trials with those I felt were the right fit, and then went with the option I thought was the best for my family.
3. Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Being disciplined is key to developing a healthy work-life balance. However, even during my busiest days, I noticed that I wasted precious time on unproductive activities such as scrolling for hours on social media, watching YouTube videos, texting friends in between work, and more. Cumulatively these activities significantly delayed my work activities resulting in me working late on a daily basis.
Here’s how I was able to cut down on distractions:
Investing in a separate phone for work. Keeping my personal phone in a drawer away from my workstation notably reduced my time scrolling social media during work hours. The result? Faster completion of work and more time to spend with the kids.
Minimizing electronic use an hour before bed helped me to sleep on time and wake up early. As reported by Sleep Foundation, the blue light emitted from electronic screens such as mobile phones, laptops, etc., signals the brain to stay awake, making it difficult to fall asleep. But, getting an early start to the day helped me avoid immediately rushing into work and spending more time with family.
Rather than trying to put one responsibility over the other, I assign ample time to each activity to avoid being overwhelmed. During work hours, I try to isolate myself from distractions. Post-work, my goal is to disconnect from work-related activities by spending time with kids, enjoying a hobby, and getting some much-deserved rest.