From juggling upcoming events and travel plans to managing housework, your spouse, children and pets, finding work-life balance can be a struggle. It can be equally difficult to find personal time or a moment to visit with friends. Consider these tips to keep your home life—and your sanity—intact.
1. Create a family calendar.
Meredith Martini, CEO of PlayWorks Group (a teambuilding company in Atlanta) and a work-from-home mother to 7- and 10-year-old daughters, has a shared Microsoft Outlook calendar with her husband. All four family members have a different color, so it’s easy to track each person’s activities and discover any gaps in transportation or child care.
2. When possible, incorporate family into work and travel.
For David Jacobson, father to a 2- and 4-year-old and president of TrivWorks, a New York City-based teambuilding company, that means having his wife join him at some of his events, or having his children pose for a silly photograph he posts to social media while he’s preparing for events. “Find creative ways to involve your family in your work,” he says. When it comes to traveling, Martini says she and her husband will “divide and conquer” trips so one of them is always home with the children. If it’s a great destination, such as Puerto Rico, they bring the kids along.
3. Let go of perfection.
“It’s a myth that you can do it all,” says Patrice Trusdell, mother of three and vice president of Boggs Chung Incorporated, a Pennsylvania-based meetings, conferences and events management company. “Just as you set priorities of what you need to do for a program or an event, be realistic if you set a goal at home. If you want to do two things when you get home from work, do them; rejoice; and then stop.”
4. Divide and conquer.
Martini partners with other work-from-home mothers to share responsibility for picking up children, which helps when she’s on the road. She also created a supper club with another family with four children, and they alternate cooking once a week. “It sounds crazy, but it works out with big-batch cooking,” she says.
To manage her work and still be involved in her teenager’s activities, Trusdell partners with a co-chaperone for their church teen group. Trusdell chaperones events August through December, while other parents handle events January through May during her busy season.
5. Plan ahead.
When her children were younger, Trusdell would get everything in place before she left on a business trip, from school permission slips to grocery shopping to purchasing birthday gifts. “I’d try to do all that because I wasn’t there to physically run them around and was asking my husband to do it all,” Trusdell says.
6. Be creative with couple time.
Since Martini and her husband are co-owners of their company, they have breakfast dates when they are both in town. “We get the kids off to school and bring our to-do lists, but it is still time for us,” Martini says. Jacobson adds it’s essential to be in constant communication with your spouse and to plan date nights so you don’t get lost as a couple.
7. Schedule friend dates.
To make time for her best friend who lives 40 miles away, Trusdell says she now schedules a friend date four times per year. To make it happen, Trusdell says they stopped giving each other presents and opted to give each other the gift of time instead.
It’s easier said than done, but planning time to disconnect from technology can help you better connect with others. When Trusdell gets home, she charges her cellphone and tablet on silent. “It took me a long time to believe this,” she says, “but you don’t have to respond to every single email immediately. If it’s a real emergency, my clients have my home phone. Otherwise it can wait until the morning.”