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Balancing Family Life with Work

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While we have focused on the workplace in many recent articles, it is important as well to consider how to balance life at home with your job.

Ease the Transition from Work to Home

* Give yourself a rest period when you come home (even if it's 15 minutes) to mark the end of the work day and the beginning of the family evening; change your clothes to mark this transition; and

* discuss with your spouse how to allow you both time to unwind while giving the children the attention they need (consider taking shifts with the kids).

Determine the "Problem" Times of the Day

If early morning is filled with conflict:

* try to get as much as possible ready the night before (get backpacks together, prepare lunches, lay out clothes);

* have a special calendar for important dates and events (list any requirements along with the activity);

* let kids help select and prepare breakfast; and

* decide on rules (who makes breakfast, can TV be on during breakfast?).

If after work is a problem time:

* plan menus in advance (be sure to include kids in planning);

* prepare meals in advance;

* decide how often to eat out;

* try to have everyone present for part of the meal since this is an important time for the family to communicate with each other;

* try to avoid doing errands after work;
have a place for everyone to do homework (make sure other family members respect the needs of the child or children doing homework); and

* for after school activities, try to car pool or trade another service in exchange for driving (i.e., making snacks, phone calls).

If bedtime leads to disruption:

* develop clear rules on bedtime in cooperation with children; and

* have consequences for disregarding the bedtime (i.e., getting up repeatedly, continuing to talk).

For single parents:

* develop a support system (relatives, friends, groups);

* arrange a "kiddie exchange" with friends, where you watch someone else's children for awhile in exchange for time off in return (can share tasks like running errands or all contribute to paying for a baby-sitter for a major outing); and

* gather names of reliable baby-sitters in your neighborhood from local organizations who offer baby-sitting classes and certification.

For all parents:

* make time for yourself. If you keep time for yourself out of each day, you are more likely be a better parent and a better employee.

Source:

Perry-Jenkins, Maureen. (1994). All in a day's work. In C. M. Todd (Ed.), Child care center connections, Vol. 3, No. 5 (pp. 4-5). Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service. [Internet: http://www.exnet.iastate.edu/Pages/nncc/Prof.Dev/ cc35_all.days.work.html])
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