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Jan 10
2002

Maintaining Balance Between Work and Family

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Trying to balance work and family is a major source of stress for most people, especially when both parents work. Some stress is inevitable, but the rest can be managed successfully if you will observe a few basic guidelines.

 

First, recognize that the pressure is real. Trying to ignore the stresses and strains of life only makes matters worse. Facing the pressure head-on, and developing a workable plan, is the best way move forward.


Start by setting aside a regular time each month with your spouse to discuss the current balance between work and family. No matter how busy you are, make time, write it on the calendar, and stick to it. As King Solomon says, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5 NASB). Make a list of all home and work obligations and divide the household tasks and child-rearing responsibilities evenly. Share the household chores with your children, based on age and ability.


During your planning time, identify sources of tension, determine where you are out of alignment, and devise steps to restore a proper balance. Update the family calendar and coordinate your schedules to avoid last-minute conflicts. Finally, identify three action steps that will make a fifty percent difference in your lives over the next month. Be sure to consider items from both work and home. Then focus on those priorities for the next thirty days.


For example, Mary's priorities one month were to complete her departmental budget, hire an administrative assistant, and complete her Christmas shopping. Identifying these priorities helped Mary to stay focused, and allowed her husband, Rick, to support her with prayer and encouragement. Meanwhile, he was pursuing his own top priorities of spending a half-hour per week playing with the children, writing a marketing plan for the upcoming fiscal year, and organizing his workbench in the garage. At the end of the month, both Rick and Mary had made significant progress with a lot less stress.


Family communication is critical. Sharing appropriate information with your spouse and children keeps everyone's expectations in line and becomes the basis for mutual understanding and cooperation. "Through presumption comes nothing but strife" (Proverbs 13:10), and discord is a major stress producer. Children have a way of demanding attention when they feel pushed aside, so plan to give them adequate time and attention, absent from distractions, and focus entirely on their needs.



One-third of all workers report a significant level of job-related stress. The key is to find a way not to take this stress home. At the end of the day, take a few minutes alone to decompress and make the mental shift from job to home. If you are frustrated on the job, seek to develop effective coping skills to manage your anger and avoid bringing your problems home with you. Consider a job change if you are consistently frustrated at work. 



Regardless of your job, it is important to establish and maintain work-time boundaries. Bringing work home, or regularly working extended hours, will add stress to any family situation. Keep in mind your proper priorities. If the Lord comes first, followed by family and work, don't let your job sneak into first place. If it requires extensive hours on an ongoing basis, either find a way to restructure your responsibilities or start looking for a job that doesn't demand as much time. "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness- and all these things [food, clothing, and shelter] shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33 NASB). 



Of course, changing jobs will create some stress of its own, as will a promotion or demotion, added responsibility, or a new boss. Anticipate these stress points and work out family solutions during your monthly planning time. If you take time to plan, work cooperatively with your spouse, and keep your priorities straight, you'll find success with a lot less stress.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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