Balancing Work and Family

700 426 David DeWolf

It’s a struggle so many of us face: balancing work with family life (or is it balancing family life with work?).

Here are 12 tips for balancing work and family more effectively, which I’ve taken from the handout we received at a recent Men’s Leadership Forum at Reston Study Center. A big thanks to Bill Bowman for pulling this resource together.

1. Get your priorities right.

The order should be: God first, then your spouse, then children, and then all the others.

This attitude is reassuring to children, and it’s also reassuring to your spouse.

It’s also good to schedule dates with your spouse. How about lunch out every Saturday or dinner on Friday nights?

2. You can’t be a producer at work and a consumer at home.

When you walk through the door, your attitude has to be, “I’m ready to help,” not “How can you serve me?”

You’re part of the home team just as much as you’re part of the work team, and your work doesn’t stop when you get home.

3. Parents working full-time inside the home are doing professional work.

They need professional tools to do the job effectively. Don’t scrimp here! Remember that you are both working for the family. Support each other. What your spouse is doing at home is every bit as important as what you’re doing on the job.

4. Weekends require good communication.

Otherwise, your expectations can be missed. Sit down Thursday night and plan what is going to be done. Plan chores for each child over the age of 4. And don’t forget to allow for some relaxing time together, doing whatever your family enjoys doing together.

5. Simplify life.

Don’t overschedule children. It’s OK for them to have downtime. Research shows that what kids really want is for parents to hang out with them in their home.

The same is true for parents. Sometimes you have to say no to be able to say yes to what really matters.

6. Keep your needs as simple as possible.

Then you’re free! Don’t create needs: a big house, fancy car, etc. Teach children the “virtue of poverty” when they’re young. “You need shoes, but not those $200 Jordans.” Try to live beneath your means.

By doing that, you’ll be teaching your children a valuable life lesson.

7. When you’re home, be with the family, not with your laptop.

Turn off email, voicemail, etc. It’s possible to be at home and be totally at work.

Schedule screenless time for everyone in the family: practice spending facetime together. This is how you get to know the members of your family.

8. When you’re at work, promote the family.

Work to create acceptance of families at your company. Have events where the whole family is invited. Younger workers need to see how good family life is lived. Young families also need to know they are welcome and supported.

Be an example! Be sure to have a picture of your spouse on your desk and not just pictures of your children.

9. Invite family to visit your work.

It’s very important for children to see the work environment of their parents working outside the home. Involve them in your professional lives: talk to them about what you do, why you do it, and how you discerned what your career would be.

Discuss your goals for the future and even start talking about what their goals might be. Point out how God has used your life in ways you didn’t envision, how you’ve been surprised by what’s happened in life.

10. Choose jobs that shorten your commute.

Dedicate that saved time to helping your children do their school work. Be involved in the daily activities of their learning environment. If you can’t shorten your commute, try to include your children in your commute by dropping them off at school or picking them up.

11. Choose jobs that permit flexible schedules.

It’s important to be at sporting events or school plays. Attend conferences with teachers. Don’t delegate this to the other parent: go together. Be a team!

12. Live one life.

We don’t have four lives (work, family, friends, spiritual). We live one life. Put God at the center, and do everything for his glory. Schedule the time for committed prayer and conversation with God; that is as important as any business meeting you will have.

What tips do you have or use for balancing work and family? Share your thoughts in the comments.