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This is a topic that is probably not foreign to any adult, with or without children. Some might interpret it as no overtime, which is more commonly known as ‘OT’. Well, if you spent most of your time in office doing work, that is definitely not work-life balance, but what exactly does ‘work-life’ balance mean?
‘Work life balance refers to an individual’s ability to balance work and personal commitments. Those who find a healthy balance between work and life achieve a sense of wellbeing and feel that they not only have control over their working life.’ (myVMC, 2010).
The pleasant news is that these days, daddies get paternity leave too! So daddies can be more involve with the growing up process of their children. It is a plus point for mummies, who often wish that the daddies could help alleviate their busy schedules as well.
There are more new-age companies now that wants to bring work-life balance to its employees these days. They may introduce new facilities which contribute to the well being of their employees. Perhaps sports rooms, sleep capsules, table tennis, table soccer machines, free food and drinks. One classic example that has been featured in the theatres is the movie that features Google Inc. Companies are also introducing work from home hours, as well as more flexible working time in order to cater to their staff with family commitments.
Picture Credits: Google
When we are single and leading our seemingly carefree lives, with minimal worries except for money, it seemed easier for us to allocate more time for ourselves. For parents who are raising children, work and children are both commitments. Raising children is a challenge that parents encounter because with children, there are many more commitments that parents have to work into their schedules. Recitals, parent-teacher meet up, sick child, toddler staying up, school holidays, the list could go on. According to Morin (2014), parents often have to make sacrifices in order to maintain a balance between work and family time.
Why Work-life Balance?
Apart from the financial benefit, working parents also have company benefits, be it childcare leave or maternity leave or perhaps subsidised medical fees. Being trained in skills also leaves parents with a sense of satisfaction and achievement and often leads to a individual who possess more self confidence.
Working non-standard may result in behavioral issues in the children as shown in a study in Canada (myVMC). If you think about it, it all comes down to time management. Non standard hours may grant a Never bring back work stress and temper home, as it will carry over to the family.
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Achieving Work-life Balance
Procastinating about work and work-life balance is a vicious. Many people believe that it is unattainable, with constant dissatisfaction or irritation at work, or perhaps feeling fed up with matters constantly revolving around the family. Parents need their ‘Me’ time too. Dinner dates out with the spouse or friends, with the child in the care of a trusted friend or family would offer parents a time to relax and let loose.
Support is definitely on the ‘Must Have’ list. Spousal and family support is important as these people make up your closest confidant in the day-to-day battles with work and raising children. For single parents, the support from family and friends will be important. Parents may need to find a child care, or babysitter in order to manage their time away from home. Having children doesn’t mean that you are abandoning yourself.
Unfortunately, sometimes you do have to give up some things in order to obtain others.
Some sacrifices to be made include the following (Aragona):
There will be times when favours are required so as to reduce a little workload or maybe help at babysitting.
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- Equality May Not Exist
While we have a common belief that balance means equality, it doesn’t exactly fit into parenthood and work. Sometimes it is more of a give and take situation, a little more of this, a little less of that. The key is to see which one requires more of your energy or attention. It is good to remain flexible as trying to make all the ends meet will eventually lead to burnout.
Quoting Barker from Time, on some interest points:
- The happiest people are not people who don’t have a care in the world. Those people are bored.
- Research shows the happiest people are busy — but don’t feel rushed.
- Anxiety is reduced by a feeling of control. And what do studies say about work-life balance? Same thing — a feeling of control is key.
- Deciding on what is important by asking yourself, “What’s The Most Important Thing For You To Do Right Now?”
- The main problem people have is they try to do it all and treat everything as important.
- Neglecting Oneself
By being able to care for yourself, what you are essentially doing is maximizing your efficiency and productivity. Yes, we all know that newborns do keep us up for a pretty tired period of time. While it is unavoidable, what we can do is to maximize what we can get. Snippets of sleep, rest time, exercise, self pampering. By keeping ourselves mentally engaged and satisfied, we are providing mental energy for ourselves to keep up to day-to-day activities.
- Responsible Children to Adults
All parents want their child to grow up successful and happy. It is a noble cause and no one would say that it is wrong. However, in order to achieve work-life balance, parents have to take note of one thing.
‘The world DOES NOT revolve around your child’s happiness’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they should be unhappy but a parent should be working towards grooming their child into a responsible child and not just at keeping them happy. A parent is a role model that loves unconditionally and grows along with the child, and not a 24/7 nanny who nags or over coddles their child. Children learn through disappointment and failures and always picking them up after a failure is not advisable. By learning to deal with disappointment and failures, children are developing emotionally and this helps to let them learn how to prepare for future challenges.
The wonderful thing about working is the extra financial support. However, working does take up commitment of not just your time but also energy. Some parents come back drained from a whole day of work and may not be able to concentrate on family matters.
Too much time away from home and away from the children may leave you feeling like a bad parent. When you leave the office for the day, do leave office matters behind. When you come home, put your mind on the family. Similarly, when you are at work, concentrate on work matters. If you do lose your temper at home from something that upsetted you in office, don’t fret. We all make mistakes from time to time. Instead of staying stagnant at the point of time when the mistake was committed, why not make up for it in other ways such as spending exclusive one-on-one time with the children?
Some food for thought, no one is perfect, and being perfect parents is just an ideal notion.
Work-life balance is something that individuals can practice for the benefits of not just themselves but for the people around them.
Amy Morin. (2014). The Five Things Successful Working Parents Give Up To Reach A Work-Life Balance. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/01/20/the-five-things-successful-working-parents-give-up-to-reach-a-work-life-balance/
Eric Barker. (2014). How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in 5 Steps. Retrieved from: http://time.com/43808/how-to-achieve-work-life-balance-in-5-steps/
Kara Aragona. Work-Life Balance Tips for Single Parents. Retrieved from: http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/balancingworkandlife/a/work-life-balance-tips-single-parents.htm
MEGAN ROSE DICKEY. (2014). Most Google Employees Can’t Separate Work From Their Personal Life. Retrieved from: more: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-employees-work-life-balance-2014-3#ixzz30uMCgsae
myVMC. (2010). Balancing Working and Parenting. Retrieved from: http://www.myvmc.com/lifestyles/balancing-working-and-parenting/#c1