In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to make everything about work. Increasingly, we’re expected to be responding to emails after we’re done for the day, or taking calls after hours.
It’s easy for those little concessions to encroach on time with family—something we all know we want more of, and yet we often struggle to make time for.
Work-family balance doesn’t have to be an unattainable goal or impossible ideal. Treat it like a process of setting out time for the things that matter through little steps every day.
Here are some of our tips for making sure you can balance the demands of your job with the joys of your family.
It’s easy to “never have time” for family activities if you don’t make time for family activities. Get that calendar out at the start of every week and plan an activity as a group. Or set aside one evening a week for a family play date. It can be something as simple as spending time bouncing on the trampoline in the backyard or playing a game together!
One study shows that kids who eat regular family meals do better in school, but the benefits of family meals aren’t just academic. Sitting down at the end of the day gives time to talk and reflect together, and is a great way to officially close the door on work for the day. Cook up a meal or order in and reconnect as a family unit at the end of a stressful day.
You’re your own first line of defense when it comes to protecting family time. As much as possible, set expectations at work that you don’t answer emails or take calls after you go home for the day. If you need to, set up an auto-responder when you’ve gone home for the weekend or taken a family day so you don’t feel the need to check in on things at the office.
How many times have you finally finished work for the day, only to remember you have to do the shopping and the laundry—plus cook and clean? The little tasks of running the household can eat up so much of the time we could spend with our kids. For younger kids, get them involved in helping you with chores. You’ll get more time together and teach them valuable skills. For older kids, consider delegating a few of the easier tasks, like doing laundry or cooking a meal once a week. They’ll learn responsibility, develop a greater appreciation for the contributions you make, and you have less standing in the way of stress-free family time.
It’s easy to want to close the door on work and go straight into family time, but sometimes we need a moment to adjust as we transition between the two. Otherwise we might carry the stress of work into the activities we do with our families. Take a few minutes to do breathing exercises or a mini-meditation before rejoining your family. You’ll come to them in the right state of mind to be joyous and present.
What you do with your morning sets the baseline for what you do with the rest of the day. Implementing a soft “no phones at the breakfast table” policy is a good way to make sure your family starts the day together at the breakfast together and you’re not distracted by work emails. It’s also a good chance to check in regularly and make sure you know your family is up to for the day.
Planning and cooking a group meal is a great way to bond with your kids and teach them life skills—plus it helps take another chore of your plate. Pick one night a week for a family-cooked meal, and decide after you’ve eaten together what next week’s meal will be so you can plan ahead.
Play is one of the best ways to connect with our kids when they’re young. It’s an invitation to share their imaginative world and see life the way they do! Plus, when you combine play with low-impact exercise, like bouncing on your Springfree Trampoline, it’s good for both your physical and mental health as well. Leave your worries behind and go for a bounce together!