With each new baby brought into a family, time often seems to fly by faster.
There is just so much more to do on a daily basis. For most of us who balance work and family life, each day is jam-packed and exhausting.
Many parents report feeling guilty at home from work pressures and guilty at work from home pressures. It's easy to feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities and not enough time and energy.
A recent study from the Families and Work Institute discovered that though more than half of Americans felt "overwhelmed" by the workload at some point, one-third still did not plan to take the vacation days they had available.
Stretching yourself to the limit with no breaks can increase the stress you are experiencing. Constant stress can mentally and physically drain you, leaving you irritated, worried, or depressed. Physical symptoms like headaches, backaches, or upset stomach may also be present.
By trying to simplify your life, setting reasonable goals for yourself, and taking time for yourself every day, you will have a greater chance for health and well-being.
Most people feel more rushed than ever with too much to do in too little time. This holds especially true for two-career couples, full time working parents, and single parents.
When you are overwhelmed, it's easy to be hard on yourself and to expect more from yourself. You have so much to do! However, this is actually the best time to pause for a moment and give yourself credit for all you're already doing. Many parents are already doing a wonderful job, in spite of difficult circumstances.
Pausing to take note of how much you're managing can serve as a reminder that you may have a lot on your plate--and you are already doing a good job trying to manage everything.
Limit the Stress - Simplify
It's easy to respond to stress by accidentally creating more stress with unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking too much, eating unhealthy foods, skimping on sleep, and giving up exercise. These "solutions" are temporary fixes that in the long run will actually make you feel worse.
Instead, it's better to foster healthy habits such as meditating, exercising, getting enough sleep, eating well, and even taking short breaks to breathe deeply. You will be a better parent and more productive at work, with better life fulfillment, for taking this time each day. You deserve it!
Control what you can and let the rest go. Avoid negative thinking. Negative thinking focuses on what is going wrong and results in false conclusions about your life situation. For instance, if your child is sick and you have to miss another work day, you may conclude, "My child will probably be sick several more times this year and I'll miss even more work. My boss will be furious and consider firing me if I keep missing work." This is a dangerous cycle and induces more stress.
Instead, look for a creative solution to your problem. Take some time to brainstorm on paper different ideas for how to improve your situation in spite of a temporary difficulty. Maybe you can speak with your boss about working extra on an evening or weekend. Consider asking a family member to watch your child so you can still get a half day in at work. Make the best of your scenario. There are always solutions.
Tips for Balancing and Coping
- Try to get seven hours or more of sleep at night. Lack of sleep increases stress and makes it harder to make good decisions and think clearly.
- Create boundaries, particularly with technology. Being available to both work and family all day with no limits is not healthy for anyone. Unfortunately, due to technology, most people feel like they are working around the clock, even when spending time with family at home. Or at work, they may be interrupted with non-emergency texts, which makes productivity even harder to achieve. Let work and family know that you have limits for non-emergency messages and calls. Find a balance that works for you and your loved ones.
- Prioritize household chores according to what's necessary and let the rest go. Reconsider what really needs to be cleaned or organized around the house and be willing to ease up on the expectation that everything needs to be done.
- Talk to your family about sharing the load. Have a family meeting where everyone is able to discuss responsibilities and divide them more fairly. It's best to be kind, open, and honest about how you feel and how overwhelmed you may be. Consider if your children are old enough to help more. Perhaps reevaluate your budget and see if you can cut back in an area to make room for a lawn care or housekeeping service.
- Set aside time for self-care. Parents are often consumed with caring for their children's needs and neglect their own. Most people spend more time with their family and at work than they give themselves credit for, but don't spend enough rejuvenating time for themselves. Examples of self-care could be going to the gym, taking a walk in nature, reading a book, or enjoying a soothing bath. The result of making time for yourself is often that you are rested enough to continue tending to the needs of your family and the pressures of work.
Work-life balance is challenging! The scales will tip at times depending on what is happening at work or at home during a given time. However, it's called "balance" for a reason as the scales can always be evened. Find what works for you and your family remembering that moderation in all things in life is key.