To achieve a healthy work–life balance, I would advocate the following tips and tricks to ensure you dedicate your precious time in the best possible way.
1. We all feel guilty at times.
A quote I often relate to is: ‘The obligation for working parents is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.’ That’s from The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb. Be realistic and be kind to yourself: you have to work, because you have to provide for your children. Dispel the guilt and you will become more productive. Positive mantras and mindfulness techniques do help to shift your mindset. Check out our mindfulness blogs for tips and practical exercises.
2. Turn your phone and laptop off when you finish work.
Be strict with yourself. This will ensure you’re not tempted to check your work emails and become distracted from your kids. Ensure good habits by packing your laptop and phone away at the end of a working day, and at the weekends.
3. Take regularly spaced annual leave from work.
Plan trips ahead of time to maximise the fun you can have with your children. Plus it’s always great to have time off to look forward to.
4. Set aside time to exercise.
Involve the kids. I love running and find it essential for clearing my mind. I often take the kids on the bikes. Everyone benefits from being outdoors, and you are teaching your children good habits.
5. Eat well.
Enjoy a balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables to boost your immune system. Again, teaching your children about the benefits of healthy eating at an early age will instill good habits in later life.
6. Keep hydrated.
Ensure you drink plenty of water. Hydration has a major effect on your energy levels and brain function. This will help you remain focused and productive at work and at home. The official recommendation is six to eight glasses every day.
This isn’t always easy with night terrors, teething and general toddler antics. As parents we often feel the evenings are our time and we want to stay up late. I actually find going to bed early more beneficial. I wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the day. Plus you can get a head start on the housework before work!
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Nurture a good network of friends and family around you for support. When you do feel overwhelmed and drained, it’s good to talk to someone you trust, especially if it’s a working parent experiencing the same struggles.
9. Be organised.
No one wants to be running around at 7.30am trying to find their nurse fob watch, laptop, the school project on lighthouses, packed lunches or spare pants for accidents at daycare. Prepare as much as you can the night before. Believe me, your toddler will know when you are weak and that tantrum over the purple tutu is best debated when you don't have a list of jobs to do.
10. Use the art of negotiation.
You survived the purple tutu debate, and now you are presented with the dire need to wear sparkly pink wellies on a hot summer day. A good friend and mother once said to me: 'choose your battles.' Wise words. Let your daughter wear the wellies, and pack the sensible shoes to take with you. Negotiating and influencing are also transferable skills in the workplace.
Finally, don't forget to smile. It releases endorphins, which helps you feel less stressed and more able to cope with the day ahead. What's not to smile about, look what you've achieved? You've managed to get three human beings up, dressed, fed and watered before 7.30am. You've made it into the office before 9.00am – and no one has noticed you forgot to brush your hair.
Be kind to yourself and good luck.....
The Imperfect Parent guide
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