Time Management: Making Family a Priority
As a working mom, people often ask me: "How do you balance your personal and professional lives—fulfill your responsibilities as a mom and work a full-time job? How do you give equal time to both?"
The answer is: I don't give equal amounts of time to both.
I hear people talk a lot about balance. Somewhere in this discussion, the topic arises about how you need to give equal time to those things that matter most to you—work and family, for example. The fact is, at least in my life, that all of my roles and responsibilities do not demand the same tasks or carry equal priority.
The reality is that work and paying the bills is a priority, one that takes about 12 hours of my time a day. Given that reality, I have had to figure out how I can still make time for what matters most to me—family, friends, volunteering, "me time"—while still accomplishing those things that are absolute musts right now in my life—like working full time.
Tips to Spending More Time With Your Family While Working a Full-Time Job
Here's some things that have worked for me or that I'm trying out (always a work in progress, right?):
- Schedule work hours around your kids' schedules. Assess your work schedule and if possible, work while your kids are gone at school, activities, sports; are napping; or have gone to sleep for the night. Sometimes, this requires sacrifice, but the results way outweigh the cost.One of my friends wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every day so she can get work done before her daughter wakes up. She also works during nap times. I can't imagine waking up at 4:30 a.m. is easy for her, but she's able to put in nearly full-time hours, as well as place a priority on her family.
- Carve out time on a regular basis to interact with your kids. Spend your lunch hours volunteering in their classrooms. Make dinner as a family and/or eat together.Recently, I decided to take Friday afternoons off from 2-5 p.m. My kids have early out day that day, so after school, I take my kids on outings. The result is one-on-one time, doing something fun with my kids. It requires scheduling in advance and blocking the time off on my calendar, but has proven to be valuable bonding time for us.
- If work overlaps when the kids are home, take time off to be present with your kids. You can always make up an hour after they go to bed, but you can't make up the time to be with them when they are grown and gone.I work a 12-hour work day. I have found that taking off time from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. to make dinner, help with the kids' homework, and read with them before they go to bed goes a long way in bringing us closer and adding an element of consistency into our relationship.
- Ask for help on tasks that get in the way of spending time with your kids. If house cleaning, administrative tasks, making dinner, driving kids to their activities, or other tasks are getting in the way of placing a priority on your family, get help! Hire out the tasks, carpool, do trade with a friend or neighbor, or divide up the responsibilities with your partner so you each are able to devote the time you'd like to spending time with your children and each other.I just hired a housekeeper to come in 2 hours a week. I know! It's not a lot. But, it's amazing the difference 2 hours worth of cleaning makes and the freedom it gives me to spend time on my important priorities.
What are tips that have helped you balance your most important priorities?Photo courtesy of Cecily West Cook.