How do we find that work-life balance? It’s the eternal struggle: something we’ve strived for ever since the first day we brought work home from school. There must be a way, we say, a way to make sure the “need-tos” and “want-tos” are perfectly balanced. Better yet, we think dreamily, if the scales tip in the want-tos’ favor.
Well here’s the unfortunate truth, straight from the brainiacs at the Harvard Business Review: work-life balance is a myth. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news – now that you know the truth, you can focus on the making family time you have the best it can be.
So how do you make the most of your family time? Here are a few helpful suggestions:
Put it On the Schedule
I remember the first time I pulled out my day planner and wrote “family time” in it. I was horrified; I have to schedule time with the people I love?! Where was the spontaneity? Where was the fun? The act of writing it in my planner felt terribly grown up and boring.
But do you know what happened next? I spent time with my family. Scheduling the time gave family time a sense of officiality, making it just as important as a conference call with my boss (which, of course, is far less important).
If you’re balancing an overwhelming schedule – and let’s face it, most of us are – I firmly suggest getting pen and paper and making sure family time is on the books. Watch a movie together, play a game in the yard, or read a special book with the little ones – if you don’t make it a priority, the time is likely to slip away.
Make Cooking a Family Affair
One way many families ensure some quality time together is by insisting everyone be present at the dinner table. I love this idea! After all, we all gotta eat – why not do it together?
But last summer, while my kids were home on break and my husband was home early (he manages a golf course, so summer time means he works those crack-of-dawn hours), I decided to push the envelope a little further.
Encourage your family to get involved in meal preparations with you. If they’re old enough, have them help you chop the veggies or stir the sauces on the stove. If they’re small, send them to fetch ingredients from the fridge, or have them practice reading by telling you the recipe. You’ll make some memories in that kitchen and get a little more family time.
Take A Tip From Mary Poppins
The world’s favorite nanny once said that “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” Now, I’ll admit that, when I’m standing over the piles of laundry that accumulate in my house, I have a hard time believing her. But do you know who doesn’t? Your kids.
Kids are always in the pursuit of fun. If you say “let’s race and see who can sweep the floor the fastest,” they’ll have so much fun racing you that they won’t even notice they’re doing chores! When I’m overwhelmed with all the housework to may to-do list, I often invite my kids to join in the fun. We have a great time together, and we get the house clean in the process.
Watch Out For Time-Wasting Traps
Social media is so much fun. But it also sucks away so much of our time! I honestly didn’t realize how much time Facebook took from my life until recently. Ever since, I’ve cut down the time I spend staring at my phone, and I’ve discovered a ton of free time to spend with my family again.
Of course, social media isn’t the only time-waster out there. Do you spend 30 minutes looking for the keys every morning? Are you hitting the snooze button three times before rushing out the door in the morning? Take a hard look at your daily schedule and find the places where you can be more efficient. You’ll be amazed how much time is wasted!
Every one of us wishes we had more time – time to exercise, time to travel, time to spend with our families. But many of us fail to realize that the extra time we desperately crave is hiding in plain sight. With a little gumption and a little more organization, you can figure out a way to have quality time everyday.