The past few years I have been balancing life as a work-from-home mother, which to this day, I never take for granted. It’s not something that every parent has the opportunity to have; work-from-home jobs are scarce dependent on your field and for many organizations, proves difficult. You would assume that in this digital age, the opportunity to telecommute would be more readily available and embraced by most companies, but unfortunately not everyone has jumped on the progressive route to mobile work.
Being a mother, I understand fully well the challenges parents face each day having to juggle work and parenthood and still find time for themselves (and also with their significant other). The disadvantage of a non-flexible work culture isn’t just disadvantageous to parents, this applies to most people. I think of my husband who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last year, and for those that don’t understand this condition, it can be extremely debilitating some days/weeks/months making it almost unbearable to get up some mornings or even walk. Many people suffer from invisible health conditions that make commuting to work and sitting at a desk for many hours at a time extremely challenging. Not only can this affect work quality and morale, it can also be detrimental to your health – mentally and physically.
Taking many of these factors into consideration, this is why it’s so crucial to find that balance in your work-life that works best for you and your family. This means, putting your health and happiness FIRST.
2 months ago, I threw in another job in the mix that included me working out of the home for a few hours a day, but thankfully was able to establish a great routine that didn’t affect my ability to drop and pick up my children from school and then be home with them the remainder of the day. My new job is located only a short drive to and from home and their school. This was perfect because I didn’t have to worry about the cost of daycare/babysitting and still focus on my freelance work at home. I’m so grateful to be able to have this available to me, because again, I know that this is not feasible for many parents.
I chose to create this balance for myself. I knew this was the path I wanted to take and the healthiest option for my family and I. I love my work and what I do, but I love my family and myself much more. Maintaining a fulfilling work-life balance is about separating your personal and professional lives without allowing one to impinge upon the other. Both are important, neither should be neglected. Like many great achievements, it takes time and organization—but it’s well worth the effort.
So as a parent, how can I work towards achieving this balance?
Tips for Finding a Fulfilling Work-Life Balance for Parents
1) Find the Right Job Fit
Your work-life balance planning begins before you accept your next job.
First, take the time to determine your real needs from the broadest perspective. You may be surprised to discover that a lesser paying job with proximity to great daycare (if needed) is preferable over another option, for example.
Parents should think carefully about job location: the commute to daycare/school can make or break your ability to spend invaluable bonding time before, during and after work with your children. The satisfaction you get from seeing your child more often will make you much more relaxed and productive at work, and reduce your stress significantly. Make quality of life an aspect of your job criteria before you commit.
In the job interview, keep your ears open to the company’s view on telecommuting, work culture, time flexibility, and so on.
2) Eat and Spend Quality Time Together
A brief, morning family meal—even for 15 minutes—cuts down stress for everyone. It also assures your children that they are your priority. In case you can’t get together for dinner because of other commitments, then you at least have this meal.
If your mornings are like mine (a whirlwind!), in the evening, designate quality time—especially at dinner. A little extra time with your children now will prove enormously beneficial as they grown up.
Instead of letting the TV, YouTube, or computer games fill up the evening, plan pre-bedtime family activities. Even if you have to catch up on work, keep them somewhat engaged and nearby.
3) Manage Your Time
Work-life balance for anyone means having great time management skills. If you allow your workday to drag on, you’re stealing precious leisure and family time.
The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is incredibly true in time management – creating personal timelines & deadlines is a great way to manage time effectively and efficiently. It is important to make a clear list at the start of every day of what you need to get done, give yourself timelines to get these tasks done. Ensure to take breaks so your productivity when at the desk is at its maximum.
Schedule family vacations when people aren’t going to be around.
If you’re a manager, and you tend to be an overachiever, encourage your staff to take breaks—even if you don’t. (You really should, though.)
Make sure that you aren’t holding back the reigns when it comes to your employees’ work-life balance. Learning to let go will pay dividends in building a dedicated, motivated staff.
4) Set Priorities
When creating your list at the start of each day, ensure your most important tasks are at the top of the list and work through these first. This should go for home life as well – if you have a number of tasks to get through at home try to prioritise what needs to be done first and ensure you’re allowing yourself time to sit down and switch off. Don’t be afraid to simply say no. If you’re swamped with a number of tasks that are high priority and your boss or colleagues are giving you a number of tasks on top this, don’t be afraid to let them know you are incredibly busy. It is incredibly easy to say yes all the time, but you have to ask yourself ‘is being a yes-person really good for productivity’?
5) Pro-Tech Yourself
If you have the option to telecommute, ensure that your tech tools are state-of-the-art.
If your cell phone usage limits you to certain times or areas, then you might rethink your plan. Make sure you can video conference with ease.
I’m a fan and long-time customer of TELUS, and they offer some great plans for personal and business including The TELUS Family Advantage™.
Let’s not forget TELUS’ amazingly speedy LTE network! I couldn’t be more pleased with it having worked in many remote locations plenty of times. There’s nothing worse than having no or weak service when you’ve got an important Skype meeting or report due.
I hope that there will be a day when all workplaces will embrace and utilize more digital work flexibility. I strongly believe this will be monumental for not just employee productivity, engagement and health, but for the organization overall.
TELUS, once again, is a perfect example and trailblazer for a company that values a fulfilling work-life balance.
Leading the way in support of future friendly workplaces, TELUS’ own Work Styles® program has realized multiple financial, social and environmental benefits:
- $63.5 million in projected savings over 13 years from reducing travel-related expenses through investments in collaborative technologies
- Employee engagement of 85 percent in 2014, ranking TELUS #1 globally amongst all employers of their size and composition**
- 16% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2010
For more TELUS Work Styles results, check out their Work Styles Infographic.
When your work day is done, let it be done. It’s important to log out of your work emails or any other applications related to work that you may have on your phone, tablet or laptop. You need to make quality time true quality time. Try not to reply to work emails while out socialising with friends or family. Your productivity levels when in work will be much stronger if you have taken that all-important time to recharge and switch off.
The journey and achievement to a fulfilling work-life balance as a parent doesn’t just happen overnight any more than does a great career. It takes strategy and thought. Remember that achieving a good work-life balance often comes down to your own ability to prioritise according to what’s most important to you.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Telus as a Team Telus Ambassador; however, the opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.