Does this sound familiar?
Your day starts early, getting lunches packed and children off to school. Then you head off to work all day. You arrive home just in time to oversee homework and get dinner on the table. Once that is done, or even in between, you might need to answer some emails or take a phone call; work often bleeds into home life. Every day is a juggling act, and some days the stress is overwhelming.
Here are ten ways to push back.
Set limits on working at home. If you find yourself checking and answering emails or taking phone calls during times when you are with your family, it might be time to set some strict limits. When you clearly separate your work life and limit it to working hours, you can relax more during your off hours. When it’s family time, shut off your tablet or laptop and put away your phone. If necessary, use two phones: one for family and one for work. When the work day is over, shut off that phone. Let your boss and coworkers know that you won’t be interrupted when with your family.
Talk to your employer about flexible hours. Can you work from home a few days a week? Would it help to come in an hour early and be home before dinner? Or would the reverse be better? Think about what would work best for your family and your schedule and talk to your employer about your options.
Use a family calendar. Organize your family’s schedule on a large calendar in your kitchen or use an app like Cozi Family Organizer that allows everyone in the family to add plans and know exactly what is going on each day. When your teen plans a sleepover or has to stay late at school, she can immediately update the schedule. When your partner plans a dinner meeting with clients, he can put it on the schedule. Everyone stays updated.
Say “no” more often. Whether you are asked to stay late, host a dinner, organize a school party, it’s okay to say “No, not this time.” Your time is valuable. If you can’t fit something in or it is going to add more stress to your life, respectfully pass.
Delegate. It’s easy to try to do everything (especially if you want it done right) but it’s okay to delegate. Can your teen start a load of wash every day when he gets home from school? Can your partner pick your daughter up from practice on his way home from work? Can your coworker pitch in on big projects at work? Think about ways other people can help.
Findways to cut time. When you do cook, make twice as much and put one meal in the freezer. Put a load of wash in before leaving for work and then put it in the dryer when you get home. Hire a high school student to do yard work or organize your paperwork.
Schedule family time. With everyone in the family often going in different directions, schedule one night a week when everyone plans to be home for dinner or movie night. Small family traditions, such as playing cards together, can help you all feel more connected.
Allow for transition times. Add an extra five minutes before you rush out to work or when you come home in the evening to relax. You might take ten minutes to sit quietly in your car and listen to music or stop for a quick walk in the park. Or you might spend the time in the quiet of your room (with the door closed). Giving yourself a few minutes to settle your mind can help you more easily move from one activity to the next.
Schedule time for yourself. Each week, set aside some time for just you. You might feel guilty doing this, thinking you should spend the time with your children or your partner, but alone time helps you regenerate. That way, when you are with your family you are more focused on them.
Zero in on your priorities. What is most important to you? You might miss some of your children’s activities or fall asleep while your partner is talking to you, but make sure you’re deciding what is too important to miss. Is it your daughter’s dance recital? Your son’s concert? Know what you aren’t willing to give up. Once you do that, give up the guilt over the things you do have to miss.
For more information on managing stress in your life:
Managing the Stress of Life's Transitions
Managing Stress at Work
10 Tips for Managing Stress at Work
Easy Ways to Manage Stress
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.