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Parenting Pep Talk: Seven Tips to Balance Work and Life

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Dr. Jaime Black
Dr. Jaime Black

Finding the right balance between work and non-work life is a challenge for many of us. People work long hours for all sorts of reasons. They might be worried about layoffs and trying to secure their jobs. They might be in a profession that requires them to be available at all hours, or they might just love what they do and want to be doing it all the time. The balancing act between work and life can be difficult, but it can be managed effectively. Both our personal and professional lives can be distinctly meaningful and fulfilling. Here are some tips for striking a reasonable balance between the two.

Don’t feel guilty.  According to major studies, children who have working moms grow up to be just fine.  They may even do better academically and have less anxiety and depression in later life than children whose moms didn’t work when they were young. In addition, children whose moms work may benefit from the extra income and have access to superior day care and schooling. Many moms report that their children thrive in day care and benefit from the socialization and connections with others.

Learn to say no.  Part of work-life balance is work load balance. If you say yes to everything, quality will diminish, relationships will suffer, and burnout becomes likely. When possible, drop activities and tasks that are not meaningful. Maybe you don’t need to be on every committee or board at this point in your life. Rethink what is most important to you at various stages of life. It just may not be possible to do it all right now. The same goes for child-related tasks. You may not be able to bake for every bake sale or attend every single game.

Set clear boundaries.  When you’re at the office, focus on work. Give your family your attention when you’re with them. If you work from home, create a workspace that’s separate from where you spend family time. Take advantage of flexible work options that allow you to have personal and family time when you need it. Decide ahead of time what work interruptions are acceptable and stick to that.

Be proactive about scheduling.  Schedule time with family and friends in advance. It will motivate you to manage time well because you’ll have something to look forward to. It’s just too easy for time to pass without spending quality time with those we love. Personal and family time can be reenergizing.

Take advantage of technology.  Online shopping can save a ton of time and often costs the same as shopping at the store. For example, many online grocery sites will save your orders online and deliver everything you need right to your door. Avoiding lines and crowds could free up time to enjoy with your family and friends or some hard-earned alone time.

Take care of yourself.  Exercise and a good diet will help you feel more alert and able to conquer your day. Whether you are doing yoga, hitting the gym, or simply running around with your kids in the back yard, make moving a priority in your life. Doctors recommend taking 10,000 steps per day.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You can’t be a perfect parent and an all-star professional every day. “Some days you will ace the work presentation, but feed your kid Cheetos for a snack. Other days you’ll teach your child to tie his shoes, but turn in a grant proposal with a typo in the first paragraph,” says Sarah Honaker, Ph.D., mother of two and professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Dr. Jaime Black is a licensed psychologist practicing in Westchester and New York City. In addition to providing general mental health services, Jaime works with individuals of all ages on the autism spectrum, doing psychotherapy, conducting evaluations, and facilitating social skills groups. Visit www.spectrumservicesnyc.com, e-mail JaimeBlackPsyD@gmail.com or call (914)712-8208.

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