The title is a misnomer because balancing work and family life can never be achieved with ease. This takes a lot of juggling, planning, experimenting, emotional upheavals, professional compromises – among others. In other words it is one of the toughest things an adult would ever have to do.
It does not matter how self-sufficient your children are at home. It does not matter how much “quality time” you put in – if these two spheres are not well balanced it would spell disaster in the long run.
When these two areas are not evenly matched – the person and often this emphasizes women, though men too feel increasingly the need to spend time with their spouse and children – the person develops a guilty complex that would stunt his/ her motivation to reach out and grow professionally. This is because they would fear that with more responsibility they would loose further control of their lives and their families would be the worst sufferers.
At the same time the person would tend to overcompensate at home by being over indulgent, by offering money (to children) when they should offer guidance and by allowing themselves to be blackmailed into saying ‘yes’ when as responsible parents they should have said ‘no’. As a result, the children usually grow imbibing the wrong values, they tend to neglect the important things in their life like good education, hobbies and the like for ‘hanging out’ and binging on unhealthy things – and this does not refer only to food.
The spouse too after feeling neglected for a long time, would build a world of their own where the much-necessary interdependency of spouse become minimal. There would be one time when both the partners might stop and ask, ‘Why are we still married and living under one roof? We are living two completely separate lives.” This is where the family might disintegrate further damaging the morale and the feel-good factor of the working person.
It is true is very hard to maintain a balance between your professional life and personal life. However, it is definitely not impossible. The most important point is that you should first accept that there is a problem. Then take a step backwards and look out for options. You might be inspired by one or more of the following points:
1. Dump the guilt complex – the most important thing about the process of finding a balance is that you would need to dump the guilt complex, if any. You are not at fault that you are not a superman or superwoman. Guilt would invoke negative emotions and this in turn would ring a host of other problems. So, first of all get rid of that guilt complex you are nurturing.
2. Delegate – understand you cannot possibly be in two places at the same time and since you would need to spend at least eight hours at work, you need to work out alternatives for the time you are not there at home. Whether you are a mother or father – or wife/ husband – the equation is the same. You would just need to make a list of the chores that are needed around the house that could be delegated and do delegate them. Get a driver to drive your children/ spouse to where they need to be taken; get a cook, a relative, a friend or a neighbor who could supervise your children meal time (usually lunch) or leave them with their grandparents. Work out viable alternatives so you would not worry about whatever it important in your family life during those eight hours you are away.
3. Alternative work – in case things really do not work out – say you have children who are very young, or a spouse who does not keep well or feels too neglected by your prolonged absence – check out telecommuting jobs, flexi hours, working from home options and so on. You could still lead a very productive (read this as earning) life while you would spend more time at home where you are needed.
4. Learn to say ‘no’ – particularly at your boss, though sometimes even co-workers can be pretty painful. The ability to say ‘no’ would buy a lot of time that you would otherwise had to spend in doing things that you would not have wanted to do/ did not have time to do/ were not really qualified to do. Doing overtime is great when you have some project to finish and this would definitely come up sometime or other in your career. However, if this becomes the standard practice and you are doing mostly things that others should do, you need to reconsider your ability to say ‘no’.
5. Be very organized – you will be amazed how much time you could save is you spend just 15 minutes every morning to prioritize and plan your day’s tasks. Ensure that you impose on yourself to be organized – both in your personal and professional life. A lot of time is wasted by doing things haphazardly.
Overall these are some points that could help you. In the end, you would need to find that balance by working on it one issue at a time and building the right priorities in your life. Your job is definitely very important as it pays the bills – yet so is your family. Hence, look carefully at what you are doing and try to reach out for that precarious balance. Once you achieve it – and it will take some effort – you would be thrilled with the way you feel about yourself, your relationships and the increase in your productivity. It is a win-win situation for everyone.