Trying to juggle your job and your household can seem like a thankless, impossible task. While a perfect balance may never be possible, there are things you can do to help ease the stress both at home and at work. You may be tempted to just go with the flow, but taking control of your time and energy is important. Even when you are overwhelmed, knowing that you are actively working to improve the situation and that it is only temporary can make things much more tolerable. It isn’t indulgent to work on creating a successful work-life balance. If you don’t, you face burnout, health problems, and a host of other complications. If that isn’t enough to convince you, you should know that when you are overworked and overstressed, you will never perform your best, either at work or at home.
Having strong boundaries makes it much easier to say no. Understand exactly what your job duties are and if you are asked to take on additional tasks, consider the outcome. Do you have the time and energy to devote to the project? If not, you should pass on the opportunity. Boundaries at home can be even more challenging. These are the people that you love, and saying no or making arrangements without them can be hard. To be the best partner and parent, you need to pencil in time to recharge, whether it is going for a run or taking a hot bath.
Another important boundary setting exercise for the home is with domestic tasks. While you hopefully have the division of labor ironed out, other issues crop up. If you have kids in school, you have ended up at the drugstore late one night looking for a poster board for a project that is due the next day. Or maybe you end up getting take-out multiple evenings in a row because no one went to the grocery store. Managing your time and boundaries means saying no, but it also means proactively planning so you aren’t overwhelmed. Make a habit of staying up to date with your child on school assignments. Develop a plan for planning and shopping for the week’s meals over the weekend.
Have Financial Breathing Room
It can be difficult to have strong boundaries at work if you are constantly worried about your job. If you don’t have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building one. If your monthly expenses stretch your budget, look for ways to lower them. Consolidating your student loans into a single private student loan allows you to lower your monthly expenses. Check your budget for other areas to cut at least temporarily.
Life can be hard. Work can be a struggle, and even your family can be challenging at times. Finding something that provides you with a sense of fulfillment can go a long way in supporting your mental health. What you choose depends on what you find appealing. Consider volunteering, mentoring others who hope to break into your field, or take a class in something that interests you. It seems counterintuitive to pile more on your plate when working on work-life balance, but the benefits of finding fulfillment outside work and home are tremendous.
By Nick Wolenta