We all do it.
We all want it all, but what does that even mean? I’ve learned in the last few years that ‘having it all’ is just not possible—or is at least a phrase that needs to be redefined.
The inevitable is this: whatever your focus is consistently on is what will thrive, so concentrating only on work will produce an undesirable family outcome, but doing the opposite will produce lackluster results in the workplace. While we all try to ‘win life’, we become stressed and exhausted, which produces health issues, feelings of frustration, and more.
We need to breathe, while also feeling productive and fulfilled at work, and happy and centered at home. Unfortunately, more often that not, work wins and family life suffers the consequences.
So what can we do to try and achieve balance, while creating our own individual versions of ‘having it all?’ Here are 5 practical suggestions to creating more time for family during the workweek:
Wake Up Earlier
This especially applies to those who (like myself) are mostly unable to be productive after 6pm. I mean, let’s face it: once the kids are in bed, who wants to go back to work? Not I. I want to crawl in bed with a cup of tea and a book, take 2 sips, read half a page, and pass out until morning.
Fun fact: my family doctor actually told me to “start sleeping like a grown-up.”
I was complaining of insomnia and he asked me what time I went to bed at night, and what time I got up in the morning. I told him I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 7:30. He looked at me and was all, “you try and sleep for 10 ½ hours?! You know you’re in you’re in your 30’s, right? START SLEEPING LIKE A GROWN-UP!”
I started going to sleep at 11 and waking up at 7, and my problem was solved. Still amazed…
Anyway, if you go to bed early (before 11), set your alarm for 6. Between 6 and 7:30 (when my kids typically wake up), I can usually workout, shower, and return emails. This frees me up for better quality time in the morning with my kids, and I don’t feel the pressure to fit in a workout during the day.
Work out Monday-Friday
If you’re working out at 6am Monday to Friday, you don’t need to worry about it on the weekend. This means better quality time with the family, and you don’t feel like you’re playing catch-up on your fitness routine.
And exercise should definitely be emphasized! Besides the physical benefits that staying fit has, it lends to increased mental health, too.
People who exercise regularly generally have more patience, energy, and are more likely to produce better creative results.
Set Family Time between 6-8:30pm
This means no work between those hours! Instead, focus on eating together, helping your kids with their homework, and having real conversations. By doing this, you avoid the stress of not knowing about school projects, you’ll know whether or not homework is done, and you’ll be giving yourself time to take an actual break.
Meal Plan + Grocery Shop
This is so major. If you want get into the routine of meal planning and buying your weekly groceries accordingly, you’ll save not only time, but also money.
How many of us, when we don’t know what we’re making for dinner, say screw it and either order in or go out? When you’re feeding 5 mouths (your family might have more or less), it can really add up! It’s also way less healthy.
Instead, pick a day that you know you’ll be free to plan out weekly dinners in advance.
Then write a grocery list with all of the ingredients you’ll be needing. Round out your list with things you’re out of or low on, and take that list with you to the grocery store.
If you’re thinking you’ll have no time for this (I’ll be honest, it’s usually a 2-hour time investment), then read the next point:
Stop Working Sundays
Because honestly? If you have good time management, you shouldn’t need to. Instead, spend the day meal planning, shopping, doing school projects with your kids, going for a family hike, and cooking together.
If you can manage one really great family day a week, you and your family will be doing well.
Turn off your phone, and leave it in your bedroom. Or, of you can’t do that, check your phone only 2-3 times during the day. Make a significant effort to make Sunday family day, and you will never regret it.
And then, at the end of each and every Sunday, maybe take 5 minutes to meditate. It will set the tone for the following week, and remind yourself how grateful you are that you can achieve a better family/work balance.
We all struggle with this! But there are solutions, starting with the 5 in this article. Good luck!