There’s such a load of pressure on people today to have a “balanced” life, especially if they have a family. We’re scared to pieces that if we work too many hours a week we’ll lose our families. At the same time, if we don’t work enough, we won’t be able to support our family. And then, in all of it, we let our physical and mental health go to crap because we are so busy trying to balance work and family.
It’s Time to Re-Define Work-Life Balance
When you think of a work-life balance, you probably visualize two rocks balancing on a longer rock or a balancing scale. Why do we think balance has to mean equal? In life, you can’t possibly give equal time to everything you have to do.
What if we looked it more like a healthy balanced diet. A healthy diet isn’t eating equal parts of each macro. In fact, depending on your lifestyle and health goals, your plate will look very different during different seasons of life. If you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t have the same portions as when you are trying to build muscle.
Set Your Life Goals and Divide Your Time Accordingly
For me, building relationships with others is my main goal in life. This is with my husband, kids, friends, and other people that come into my path. Everything I do in a day helps me to accomplish that goal. Whether I’m being mom, wife, or business owner, volunteer, I’m finding ways to invest in the people around me.
At different points of the year, my plate is going to look very different. For example, Austin’s and my workload had to take a backseat in July so we could figure out where our family was going to live. It affected our weekly paycheck from R5 Website Management, but it was temporary. Right after that, we spent a significant amount of hours doing the back to school stuff, band camp, and football games. Now, we are putting more time and energy into our clients.
Each time I change up what a healthy work-life balance looks like, it is to allow me to invest in people; including myself.
How to Know When Your Work-Life Balance is Off?
A few weeks of an unbalanced diet won’t destroy your health, and neither will a few weeks of a bad schedule. However, if it becomes a long-term pattern, it’s going to have negative effects. Here are a few things that will tip you off that something needs to change:
The people closest to you are upset with how little time they get with you.
Your health goes to crap.
Stress overwhelms you.
Sleep becomes a problem.
You aren’t happy with life.
Your paycheck drops.
You and your spouse aren’t having sex regularly.
When you see these warning signs, it’s time to change up your diet. Each of these warning signs needs a different allotment of time. If your paycheck isn’t as high as it needs to be to pay your bills, you’re spending too much time on other things; potentially good things. But either way, you still have to work enough to provide your family. It’s just as important as spending time with them.
How to Balance Work, Life, and Relationships
Honestly, I think a lot of people ask if entrepreneurs can have a work-life balance. My friend Ryan Cote’ shared things he is doing to keep his family a priority. He’s an entrepreneur that knows the struggle to shut down productivity and invest in the people he loves.
Here are other things you can do to balance work, life, and relationships.
1. Identify The Time Drains
All of us have those things in our life that just drains all of our time and we walk away empty-handed. Maybe you spend way too much time on social media or watching television. It could be that you are allowing your hobbies and leisure activities to overtake your life.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break and doing things for yourself. However, we have to make sure that we aren’t spending so much time on those time wasters that we will regret it later on down the road.
2. Let Things Slide
I gave up a long time ago on the idea of keeping the kitchen clean all day. If you walk in there right now, it’s piled with dishes. It’s not for a lack of trying. Our kids run 2 loads of dishes a day and Austin and I both handwash at the end of the night. But, regardless, there are always dirty dishes and I’m ok with that.
3. Double Up Two Areas of Your Life
This is my favorite way to balance life. You can’t possibly gain more time in a day, but you can hit multiple areas of your life in one shot. Here’s a few ways we do this:
We eat dinner together every night and have intentional conversations. (We use these conversation starters.)
The kids work a side job with me.
We all go to the grocery store, divide the list and grab everything as fast as possible.
Once a week, I have one of the kids help me make dinner. On Saturdays, Austin has them help him make breakfast.
We go to church together on Sundays and do service projects a few times a year.
One of us works from home every afternoon when the kids get out of school, on holidays, and during the summer.
Ultimately, we just aim to do life together, whatever that looks like in our season. Recently, we added football games and I’m taking the oldest kid to the gym with me.
Help For Those Married to a Work-a-Holic
But, what if you have a husband or wife (I’m that wife, btw) that is a work-a-holic? How do you address it? My friend Sheila over at To Love Honor and Vacuum has some great advice on how to talk to your spouse if work is consuming their lives.
How to Keep Relationships Even if You Work Excessively
My dad worked out of town, Monday-Friday, my entire life growing up. When I think back to my childhood, I don’t even remember all of the things dad wasn’t there for. All I remember are the times we were together. And, my fondest memories are the ones of us doing basic stuff. Sure, we traveled a lot and those times were fun.
But, what I remember the most is polishing chrome for dad’s 57 Chevy, going to Lowe’s, home improvements, and handing dad tools. Even though he was gone the entire week, he connected to all of us. Here is how he kept the connection:
Called home every night- this was back in the day when you paid for long-distance, so he had it built into his contract that the company would pay this bill. We were always talking on Henry’s dime.
Took us on the job site with him- on occasion, dad would take us out of town to work on the job site with him.
Let us help him in the garage- dad was always working on little projects, the cars, or building stuff. He’d let us hand him tools, ask questions, and taught us how to do all kinds of things.
He made it to the important things- and I’m not talking about every game we played or concert. I’m talking about the truly important things like prom, graduation, and big birthday parties.
Took mom on a date every weekend- mom and dad went out on a date every Saturday night that he was in town.
Never once did I feel like my dad was choosing his job over us. He worked hard to support our family financially and I was so grateful. Dad let us know he loved us and wanted to be with us, so we felt sad when he was away. It’s completely possible to work a lot of hours and for your family to not feel neglected.
How Do You Keep The Balance?
Share some of your life-balance tips in the comments. I’d love to hear how you are doing it or areas you think you could do better.