I'm a Working Mom: Leaving Work at Work
Finding a work-life balance isn't a new thing. In fact, people have been struggling with it for a long time. Just look at the problems Hercules had. I mean, between saving the world and looking out for his lady Meg...well, you get the picture.
Something as old as the work-life balancing act can't be solved in one blog post, or even one day of trying really hard. Luckily, certain things can help you leave work at work so you can enjoy home and time with the family when you have it.
I personally work from home, so leaving work at work can be pretty difficult. The main thing I've noticed is that I have to separate my work time from my me time, but also from my family time. When you can keep these arenas separate, it's that much easier to focus and give each piece of your life the attention it deserves. You'll also find yourself feeling far less scattered and stressed as a result.
Here are my "time" tips:
- Schedule time for work and play
- Allow for flexibility within your schedule
- Make time for just you, and for just you and your spouse
- Leave time to do absolutely nothing
Everyone Needs 'Me' Time
If you think "I don't need 'me' time. I don't have time for it!" you might be right. But then, suddenly one day you'll snap. To avoid breakdowns and blowing up at people close to you, take time for you every once in a while. I'm not talking about a week in the Bahamas. Something as simple as giving yourself a pedicure after your little one is asleep, or taking a long, hot shower can do the trick. Even reading for fun for a half hour is sometimes all you need. Although countless emails might be waiting to be answered, you'll be much more motivated and energized if you stop and take some time for yourself.
As for time with your spouse, this doesn't have to be complicated, either. Strive to have regular date nights of course, but also take moments to put your phone down and connect. This could be talking about old memories, future goals, or just discussing your children and their talents. Play scrabble, or give each other foot massages. Whatever floats your boat, just make it happen at least once a day. If your child is old enough, they definitely benefit from some special "mommy and me" time, too--even if it's only for an hour before you have to start dinner.
Making time to do absolutely nothing is hard to come by--I know. Our culture has socialized us to think that "doing nothing" is lazy, useless, and a waste of time. But mindfulness and yoga aren't just becoming popular because the pants make your butt look good. Stopping the constant go, go, go is helpful because it gives you time to assess, recharge, and take a mental break. Even if your mind is wandering, it can be useful to just unplug and be alone with your thoughts. And those emails will wait, trust me.
Unpack and Check Your Stresses at the Door
So yes, although your day might be filled with getting breakfast on the table, hurrying through a morning commute, kicking butt at work and maybe staying a little late before you rush home to put a frozen pizza in the oven, if you take little 5-10 minute breaks of "you", "you and yours", and "nothing" time, you'll make it, I promise.
I like to have a time each day where I have to stop working and it's "home time." This might not be possible for everyone, but the principle remains the same. When you're at work, focus on that as much as possible, and then turn it off when you get home. If you happen to work from home, do your best to have a dedicated work space that you don't touch when you're not working. It might even help to have a separate browser profile on your computer or phone so you don't get distracted by work things when you're browsing the web (and vice versa). Meditating after work to unpack your brain and leave your work stresses at the door can also be very helpful.
NSFW and NSFH
You've seen the "NSFW" acronym meaning "not safe for work." Well, think of certain thoughts and actions as "not safe for home." You wouldn't want to view a video that makes you sob like an injured animal at work because it's embarrassing and disruptive to the ideal work environment. Likewise, try to avoid reading work emails or proposals when at home as it's disruptive to the ideal home environment. Your family can sense when you're not fully engaged, or when your thoughts are focused elsewhere. Do your best to be in the moment and contribute to an ideal home environment where you're engaging with and enjoying your family.