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Balancing work and family

by Kim Jacobs

Posted on October 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 19 at 7:59 AM

Working women try hard to strike that perfect balance between work and family. We spend either too much time focused on work and our home life suffers or we spend too much time relaxing with the family and our work life suffers.  It is necessary to know how to balance work and family.  Here are a few tips that will help you minimize the spillover effect between work and home:

#1. Assess your current situation.  Get a piece of paper and start outlining what you do from the time you get out of the bed until you go back to bed at night. Be as detailed oriented as possible. Track your activities for 5 days (Monday – Friday). This will tell you clearly where you are spending your time. By doing this exercise, you may discover you're dedicating too much time to activities that aren't important, and you can make immediate adjustments to your schedule.

#2 Family First.  Remind your family that they are the most important part of your life. Don’t forget to show your family that you love them and value them.  Devote your weekends and any free weekday evenings to things that involve them. Have a designated family night where you all enjoy an outing together.  Even when you aren’t able to physically be with them, call them to let them know you are thinking about them.

#3 Have cut offs.  Put a limit on the amount of time you will spend on work each day.  Share your time limits with your family and co-workers so that everyone is on the same page.  Your family will know when they can expect your undivided attention and your co-workers will know when you are no longer in work mode.

#4. Stop Multitasking during family time.  When you are with your family focus on them.  I refer to that as “Being here Now.”Turn your computer off during family time.  Please put your cell phone on vibrate and allow all non-emergency calls to go to voice mail during family time. Fully focus on your children and their needs during this special time.

#5. Include your family in your work.  Let them be a part of your success at work.  Share your rewards and recognition for your performance at work.  Put your trophies in the case with their awards. Take them to work with you whenever possible.  This will allow you to spend time with your children and work at the same time.

#6. Telecommute when allowed.  Ask your employer if you can work from home one day a week in the morning or afternoon. That will allow you to see your children off or be home when they return home from school. Seek out other cases within your company where this was allowed.

#7. Use One Master Calendar.   By using one calendar, you will not double book engagements.  You will be able to quickly at a glance see your children’s extracurricular activities and your work schedule on one calendar.

#8. Let everyone help.   Make sure that you are letting your spouse and children take on some of the responsibility. You have to recognize that you won’t be able to do everything yourself. You will burn out if you try. If you are serving in a supervisory role at work, delegate some portions of the projects to other members on your team. Encourage them to develop new skill sets. 

#9. Do what works for you.  Don’t worry about how another working mother balances her life.  If you put two people in the exact same situation, I believe you would have 2 entirely different outcomes.  People think differently and respond differently in situations.  There is no magic balance pill. You have to prioritize your own commitments. Ask yourself what is most important to you? How important is your career to you? What makes you successful?

#10. Plan some “Me” time.  Everyone needs to plan time for themselves, even if it’s just 30 minutes out of a 24 hour timeframe. You can take a bath, read a book, take an exercise class, and get a manicure/pedicure.

#11. Barter with a friend.  When you are trying to balance a family, career, and all of the other to dos, you can really need a break.  Barter with a friend to watch their children while they get to go on a date. In return, they will be required to watch your children when you want to date your spouse. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy your spouse and give him your undivided attention. You can also use this system when you need to run errands.

For women who work from home:

Set work hours. If you work from home, you have to set office hours so that your family knows when you are unavailable. There are added pressures when you own your own business, but if you stay on top of it you can develop a set routine. When you leave your home office, you should not keep going back into the room throughout the evening.

Take advantage of the flexibility.  One of the biggest advantages to being your own boss is the ability to choose your own hours. If you desire to spend a morning volunteering as a chaperone on a school field trip, you can. But that means you will probably need to block out time somewhere else to get your work done on time.

You can watch our Telly Award Winning Television Talk Show, Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs, on PBS - WTVI every Saturday at 10:00 AM.  To learn more about Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs please visit You can also follow us on Facebook at Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs. If you would like to hear more tips from me, you can see me as the Daily Balance Expert every Wednesday for a segment on Charlotte Today (WCNC – News Channel 36) between 11:00 AM -12:00 PM. Thank you for your continued support.