All of us with families have the constant struggle of balancing our work and family life. Even when we are passionate about and consumed by our work, it is something we continuously think about and consider how to maximise, to focus on the important aspects of both. Here at Akoni we have the same dilemma and thought we would note a few helpful tips in navigating this lifestyle.
1. Family and business can work – don’t give up on your dream
Focus on the positives - think about how your career or your business is benefiting your family. As long as you prioritise what you need to achieve and mange your time and to get the balance right, you will feel more confident with yourself and your decisions. A happy mom or dad means a happy family.
2. Prevent chaotic mornings and evenings
You don’t need to be in your office every morning before sunrise, in fact most entrepreneurs say having morning breakfast with the family helps the children to feel happy. If they aren’t happy then you may feel frustrated and this will have a knock-on effect throughout your day.
3. Perfection is not expected
Particularly for women, the perfect house you had before children doesn’t need to still be perfect, rather keep on top of you household chores with some of the tips below and allow yourself time to be with your children, the condition of your house can take priority once your children have gone to college and when you will have time to appreciate it more! For all us, don’t worry about perfect time keeping take 5 mins on the way into work to stop and get yourself a latte or a juice, or just walking to work instead of driving or taking public transport can give you a chance to recharge.
4. Consider hiring help
Hiring help in the home is a great alternative to bringing balance back into the work-life scale we all battle on a daily basis.
A survey recently found that one in three British Households now employs someone to help with chores, spending £26 billion a year on help in the home. Not everyone can afford full-time help - even a bi-monthly cleaner will help you feel a little more in control. You can also devise a system for tackling housework to help you handle this seemingly never ending task. Get your children to pitch in - small children as young as 3 can help with household chores. Share tasks with your partner - you have both had a long day, share the workload at home.
5. Spend quality time with your children
Making time for your family and children is crucial and allows you to nurture your family dynamic. Create activities that regular fit into your schedule and avoid talking about work or checking emails and messages during these times. Ask older children for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs. In the end it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you are enjoying time together.
6. Designate a “no work zone” in your home
Depending on the layout of your home – find a no work zone. The lounge is usually a good place to relax with a glass of wine or cup of tea after a long day, put your feet up and chat to your partner, play with your children, or watch a movie together. If you have a strict no work zone within your living room, it will stop the need to bring your laptop or phone with you leading to you not completely relaxing or engaging with your partner or children.
7. Create time boundaries
Be disciplined and set time limits to check emails and make phone calls, things you can do whilst your children are sleeping. Try to avoid multi-tasking, especially when spending time with your children. A good rapport with co-workers is great and beneficial, however you can have this without numerous email exchanges, extended lunches and casual internet surfing. Focus on your tasks at work and use breaks and lunchtimes for chats with co-workers, thus enabling you to have more time with your family once you are at home.
8. Don’t overlook the benefits of childcare
There is no way you will be able to do your job properly if you are worried about your child’s wellbeing whilst you are at work. Find childcare that both you and your child will be happy with. Obtain recommendations from friends and families or online forums, write a list of important criteria and schedule time to meet carers or visit nurseries.
9. Be fully engaged
Your priorities and time management rely on you to be fully engaged. If you look at your email whilst you are having breakfast with your children, this will create a half-heartedness engagement with both your children and your work. Ideally aim for your complete presence in all situations. Rather use the time you have specifically set aside to check emails, speak to colleagues and spend time with your children, helping you to be more focused and more productive.
10. Know when to unplug and how to relax
Limit your screen time to first thing in the morning or intervals during the day which you have decided are the best for your daily tasks. Again rather have time allocated to checking emails and working so that you know you can be 100% focused on these tasks and know that after that is done you allow your self to action anything that requires immediate attention. Do the activities which relax you - sports, running, having a long bath, spending quality time with your partner. If you don’t unplug, you will find your daily tasks will then overlap important family time and you will not be fully engaged in either.
It is important that we all feel we are spending the most possible time with our family. We hope the above pointers helps you to balance out your business and family over this festive season. Enjoy the seasonal break! If you have any time off, focus on presence and if you don't, remember that your children and partner will appreciate any time you are able to give them. Aim to fully recharge during quieter moments, reflecting on moments of priority and importance, in order to start afresh in the new year.
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