Since the recession began, the financial pressures experienced by families means that in many cases, both parents are forced to work in order to make ends meet. But having it all isn't easy and finding the right balance between the workplace and family life is tough.
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If you are struggling to combine your working life with quality family time, here are a few tips to help you do both without sacrificing your sanity.
Identify what 'the right balance' means to you
What works for one person may not for another and since hitting the right balance between work, family and play is a very personal thing, it is essential to work out where you feel you are missing out.
Once you have identified where the problem lies, then you can begin to set yourself some goals. It may be as simple as switching off the laptop or the office mobile when you leave the office, or getting the whole family round the dinner table for the evening meal.
Changing your priorities
When you can see the issues clearly, making a change will be a whole lot easier but it is doubtful you'll find an instant fix.
Changing your priorities is a must - in between the workplace, the household chores and the kids, there are things that simply have to be done. Try making a to-do list to help you achieve your daily goals as efficiently as possible. And don't be afraid to delegate!
The perfect job
Admittedly these are hard times for job-seekers but British businesses are increasingly keen to become family friendly. Many offer part-time or job-share opportunities to accommodate parents and the number of firms allowing their employees to work from home is also on the rise. Some larger businesses may even offer onsite child care or allow staff to take career breaks.
If you have worked for the company continuously for 26 weeks and have a child under the age of 17, you can also ask for flexible working.
There are many different types available - flexi-time, for example, allows you to choose the hours you work given that you are on site during a mandatory core period; compressed hours, on the other hand, mean you can work your allotted hours over fewer days, while staggered hours allows employees within the same workplace different start and finish times, which can be particularly useful if you are committed to the school run.
For more information on applying for flexible working, visit www.direct.gov.uk.
Maximising your family time
With your perfect job and flexible working (hopefully) allowing you to spend time with your family, it's essential to ensure that it's quality time. It's no use having extra hours in the day if you end up doing chores or taking the kids to the supermarket while you do the weekly shop.
Your children will understand much better and appreciate that your job is important if they have your full attention when the family is together. Planning ahead is a good way to make sure that there is always time set aside for your home life. Get together with your partner to discuss what you can do as a family and share out the tedious chores between you.
It might be that you organise family time for a Saturday afternoon but whatever you decide, let the whole family know so that everyone is looking forward to the day. There's no need to go for big expensive outings, even it is a trip to the local park or a family DVD, it's the being together that counts.
Not only will it strengthen the family unit but every member of the household will appreciate the time together. And when you are enjoying your home life and know that your children and spouse or partner are happy, the stress of the working day won't seem half so bad.
Have you recently re-evaluated your work/life balance? What did you change and how? Leave a comment below...