How to Balance Life and Work

Parents love spending time with their children, but work-related pressures can complicate the work-life balance. Smartphones alert us of work concerns at all hours of the day and night. The family's needs don't stop when our workday starts. In between the push and pull of work and family life, we've got to find time for self-care. If you're feeling your work-life balance slip out of place, use these tips to regain your equilibrium.

Pace Yourself

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As the adage goes, "life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon." Like a marathon runner, a successful work-life balance depends on the ability to pace yourself. You've got to push yourself to put in the effort your family and work deserve, but you also need to know when to tap out for the day. Set limits for your work hours, and ignore any work-related notifications that come in after the deadline. Schedule family time into your week, but schedule some alone time as well. If you feel yourself getting burned out, don't hesitate to clear your schedule and recharge.

Say No to the Unimportant

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Work-life balance cannot be successful without effective priority setting. Learn ways to set priorities on the things that matter most and to say "no" to the things that matter least. Determining your priorities is a bit of a balancing act in and of itself, but the key is to constantly evaluate your use of time. When is the deadline for this project? How much does this matter to me? Who benefits from this effort and how much do those people mean to me? Those are questions that can help you start your priority list.

Take Care of Yourself

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Sometimes the best way to tell whether your work-life balance is out of whack is by measuring your waistline. As our schedules fill up and the pressure grows, the temptations to skip out on the gym and run through a fast-food drive-thru increase. Fast food is a convenient way to save time, but regularly eating fast food will quickly lead to weight and health problems. Combine that with a lack of exercise and you'll notice a decline in your quality of life, which could ultimately lead to depression and lost productivity. Investing a little extra effort for food and exercise every week will greatly pay off in the long term.

Get a Checkup

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Speaking of the importance of health and wellness, it's important to stay in touch with your physician as well. Preventative care is another investment that pays off exponentially in the long run. Whether it's catching a serious condition in its early stages or offering a simple lifestyle tip, physicians will help you achieve a sustainable quality of life. Review suggestions related to your age before your next checkup so you can prepare questions and anticipate tests.

Stop Being a Workaholic

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Work can be addictive, especially for people who work in demanding, high-stress jobs. As you try to relax with your family, you may feel your workload piling up. You may tell yourself you simply can't afford to take any time off. That's the workaholic in you speaking. No reasonable job would expect you to be "on the clock" all day and night. If you struggle letting go of work, talk to your boss about taking a vacation. At the very least, unplug—literally and figuratively—over a weekend. It'll prove that leaving work aside from time to time won't be as catastrophic as you feared.

Simplify Your Life

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Life is complex, especially for parents trying to balance the demands of work and home. While complexity is inherent to all lives, you can strive to simplify your life. By scaling back your belongings, schedules, and commitments, you can make more time for the things that truly matter in life—like your family, your career, and your well-being. Clearing the clutter and freeing up time in your life will help you achieve peace of mind and allow you greater mental stamina to maintain your work-life balance.

Find a Family-Friendly Workplace

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The best workplaces recognize that their employees are real people with real needs—they are "humans," not just "human resources." If you need to strike a healthier work-life balance and your job isn't cooperating, it may be time to seek out a better workplace. Search for a job that promotes its respect for work-life balance, one with flexible hours, or one with generous vacation time.

Eat Together

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Set a goal as a family to eat at least one meal together every day. It won't always work, but as long as you strive for family meals, it will continue to positively impact your work-life balance. Even if your work schedule doesn't allow you to spend much time with your family, sitting down for an hour to share a meal will allow you to meaningfully connect with your partner and children. It's a chance for you to get to know them, and a chance to show that—even if you can't be home as much as you'd like—you care about them.

Start Having Family Night

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If family meals don't work out (or even if they do) set aside one night a week to be together—no interruptions, no excuses. It might mean tweaking your work schedule, but these nights will do wonders for your work-life balance and your family relationships. Family nights allow you to share fun memories with your children. Play games, enjoy music, or pop in a movie. The key is that you're spending downtime with the people you love. Even one night per week can give you the recharge you need to deal with a stressful workweek.

Join a Support Group

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Everyone needs a little emotional support sometimes, and if your family and friends can't relate to what you're going through, find people who can. Support groups exist for almost any lifestyle or scenario you can imagine, so finding one for workaholics will be easy. You can get even more specific by searching for a group of working parents struggling with work-life balance. These groups offer two major benefits: an opportunity to vent to people who truly understand what you're going through, and the ability to strategize with a group about how to improve your situation. Both of these aspects will reduce stress almost immediately.