Balancing your working life with your family’s needs is surprisingly hard. Because how you manage your time affects everything. Including your income, your career prospects and even your health. So there are never any easy solutions.
But there are some very good strategies. Like discussing everything with your partner and planning well together. You’ll also need lots of determination and some good attitudes to ensure you have enough time for your family.
Start by thinking through whether it really makes sense for both of you to work. Obviously if you both have jobs you’ll have more money, but you’ll also be far more tired, spend your weekends doing chores, and find it harder to cope when things go wrong.
So think about the net income from the lower paying job after deducting work-related costs, and then decide whether it’s all really worthwhile. Consider also the possibility of one of you working part-time, or options like working online, freelancing, consulting and job-sharing. It also helps to find work which minimises commuting, travel and long hours.
Successful couples enjoy their work, but set limits to it. They live simpler lives in order to reduce their financial pressures and working hours. And they’re focused and professional, confining their work to a realistic schedule. They also prepare for family emergencies by training subordinates to cover their responsibilities when needed.
They protect their family time carefully and are well organised. They know which activities are the most important and safeguard them by refusing requests or invitations that would interfere with the essentials. Because if you don’t actively put aside some time as a family, then it just won’t happen. Plan in time for your individual interests of course, but put your family before everything else. And include plenty of time alone as a couple.
The secret is looking ahead and keeping everyone in the loop. So be systematic, have a routine for how you spend each week and set aside a few minutes every evening to talk through the following day’s schedule.
Make lists to help you to stay focused and discuss how you’ll share the load between you. Agree areas of responsibility that mean you each do the jobs that are easiest or most enjoyable for you and completely let go of the responsibilities your partner has agreed to take on.
If you’re both working full-time, then your family life will be more successful if you always make decisions together, share the chores equally and are both involved in child care. That may sound like wishful thinking but even the most workaholic husbands can become enthusiastic carers so long as their wives avoid being controlling around issues involving the children!
We all struggle to spend enough time together as a family because just about every other demand on your attention feels more urgent. But in the end, the time you spend together is the only thing you do that really matters. So give it your very highest priority.