• Sue Doo

How to find balance within our busy family and work lives

As mums and dads, the different roles that we fulfil each day can make quite an extensive list: cook, cleaner, laundry attendant, lost property officer, chauffer, forgotten items clerk, alarm clock, hugger, plumber, therapist, counsellor, nurse, carpenter, doctor, united nations peacekeeper, accountant, gardener, valet, sports co-ordinator and so on, the list is varied and endless and this is before we start our paid work!!

It’s not surprising that many of us are feeling like we just can’t do it, as though we have too many plates spinning and we aren’t able to keep them all turning.

I am always banging on about the oxygen masks on a plane, we are told to put them on ourselves first!

It’s the same in life, we need to find that balance that allows us time to ‘put our oxygen mask on’: Whether that’s doing yoga, walking the dog, baking a cake, or reading our book.

When we take time for ourselves then this gives us the capacity to be there for everyone else, juggle our jobs, kids after school lives and to find time for a quiet night with our partner or friends.

It’s a balancing act and one that we can only do our best at, some days will be great and only a small number will be pants!

It’s learning not to dwell on the bad ones, acknowledging that there are 3, 4, 5 or more people involved each day and it’s not going to be 100% smooth sailing.

Make a stand and choose to let the down bit’s go – have a bit of reflection and then get back up and start juggling again with new insight, determination, and knowledge.

Image by Yi Liu from Unsplash

Top 5 Tips To help you Juggle your life

Ditch the guilt

Guilt is not one of the automatic emotions that we would go to like anger, sadness, or surprise, unless we have conditioned ourselves!

It’s an emotion much like shame and pride and to elicit these we need to engage our cognitive thinking, using our intellectual abilities to rationalise our behaviour using self-reflection and evaluating the situation.

Its man-made/ human made – we make it ourselves so let’s say NO! If you start off down that rabbit hole, pull yourself out and say something positive that resonates with you!

“I am doing a great job!” “I love my work and my children, together this makes my life.” I am a fab mum/dad, sometimes I forget things and that’s ok”

Make the morning & evening routines run easier

Get organised, plan lunch boxes, clothes and bags the night before.

Ensure that everyone has a job to do so that you can all feel part of a team and be proud to achieve together.

Let others take the lead, as the children grow up get them to make the list of jobs that need to be done or plan for the lunches.

Remind yourself why you are doing this!

Maybe write a list of pros and cons on a big sheet of paper to show yourself why you are working and have a family. Start it one day, leave it for a bit and then go back and have another look, you may be surprised by what comes up.

Often it’s a financial need along with a desire to earn money and help provide for the family.

For others they have to be at home whether due to illness or lack of funds to cover childcare, don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing what’s right for you and your family.

When we can see it clearly we are able to get out of our primitive brain, the emotional one that likes to pick fault and then we can get back in our intellectual brain, this usually has the answers and is able to sort out solutions to the problems or even recognise that it's not actually a problem at all!

Image by Kelly Sikkenna from Unsplash

Accept you are juggling

You can't change your situation, you have children and you work so stop banging your head against a brick wall and accept that sometimes even the best jugglers drop a ball!! – It happens, and you will feel stretched at times.

When we remind ourselves that it's ok to make a mistake, drop a ball or miss a phone call, we take some of the pressure off ourselves. Stop, breathe, refocus.

Don’t dwell on what’s gone wrong – It’s a speed hump, a blip in the road.

Ask yourself “What do I want instead?” And then go out there and get it!

Find the small step towards that goal, it may mean breaking it down, writing a few lists and talking it through with a friend or loved one until you get that aha moment!

Touch base

Taking time to talk to each other is essential, make dinner times a routine round the table and get everyone involved in some way with helping with the meal.

From planning the menus for the week, setting the table, cooking, and clearing away. This builds your family as a unit and helps our young ones develop some of those necessary life skills.

Another great idea for the evening is to ask, “What’s been good?” You can talk about this, get a jar and everyone pops a note in to be read at the end of the week or find your own family way to incorporate it.

Make time at the table open, relaxed, and social.

Play silly games, what food would you want to be, and why?

Where in the world do you want to travel to?

What’s your favourite song?

Play the music, critique, laugh and relax together.

Overall, as parents we have forgotten how to play because we are bogged down adulting! Yes, it's important enough that I'm making a new word!

Sometimes it’s ok to let our hair down and be playful with our kids and family.

The three words I associate with how to balance work and family life is we need to have Compromise, Communication, and Consideration.

When we learn to compromise as a family unit we all have each others back, we are looking out for each other and we will adapt and be supportive.

Families mean having more than yourself to contend with. This means that there are many heads with many minds and lots of chatter and assumptions, allow open, clear communication so that you can all be heard and listened to.

Consideration is something we can teach our children as they grow up. Being thoughtful, kind and showing care for others are essential characteristics that can build and grow within your family unit.

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