Is Work / Life Balance Really all About Simplifying? You may or may not have heard of it, the KISS principle, or in gentler terms, Keep it Simple Stupid. Simplifying our life at home and work sounds like paradise, but how many working parents actually find the time to simplify and prioritize?
Most of us are too busy. Does life at work and home seem to gel together into one? I know you’re thinking right about now…The only time I get to talk to my mate is at night, when we’re sitting in bed, tapping away furiously on our laptops and getting ready for the following day’s work. Sure, you get a nod here or there, or you may get a “goodnight dear” but is that all there is to this life? We think not!
The term work/life balance has really taken a beating over the past several years. To different companies it means different things. Every organization has different views on work/life balance. This article will discuss what work/life balance means to you. You can in turn, take this information and use it in your life, tailor it to your own circumstances and personal needs. You’ll eventually find new delights in what your children have to say, and you’ll even find that your mate is just as concerned with the madness as you are, but never really knew how to make it better either.
Where Do You Start?
This is probably the biggest question. You have an insurmountable problem to tackle, lots of ideas on how to fix it, but really don’t know where to start. So we’re going to break this down into 3 simple steps. You will realize that you can get a hold on your life. You can achieve balance and get back the sanity that you thought you’ve lost. We’ll discuss the three most important steps now.
3. Organize & Simplify
We realize that working is a necessity, is it not? In today’s world, it’s almost impossible for the mother to stay at home and take care of the children while the father works outside of the home as the main breadwinner. Because of this, we have stressed out mothers, overworked fathers, and children who want more of their parent’s attention yet can’t seem to get enough. In turn, we have parents who feel guilty for having to work, and so the vicious cycle continues.
You must also realize that while working is a necessity, it doesn’t mean that you must sacrifice your sanity or the relationship with your mate & children. The most damaging & silent stressor of all is the inherent need for perfection. You want to work, have a nice house, nice car, polite and courteous children that are involved in many activities from soccer, to dance lessons, to violin lessons and of course we can’t forget that you are known by your friends as Super mom or Super dad. In fact, you also continue to volunteer at community events, all while juggling all of your other important responsibilities.
Ask yourself these though provoking questions: What is it costing me? How tired am I at the end of the day? Do I get to spend quality time with my children much less my mate? Do I even have time for myself to relax and unwind, or is my life all about sleeping, eating and working? You may seem to have the so-called “perfect” life to those on the outside looking in, but really how perfect is it?
Please take out a piece of paper. Now write down your schedule in detail from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Don’t leave anything out. Now look at your list. Does it seem daunting? Do you feel stressed just looking at your list? Don’t be, the next step is an important one, Prioritize.
What do I Prioritize?
Well, for starters, lets just say that you are going to prioritize everything in your life. Wait! Keep reading. It’s not as challenging as it sounds. You will find relief and happiness if you follow these steps. Not to mention that you’ll find your mate and children through all the clutter.
First lets take a look at your work schedule. Whether you are working full time or part time, you must learn a word that only has two letters. That word is NO! Many times, we become overworked and overstressed, not because we have too much to do, but because we can’t say no. We feel that we have an obligation to our employer to do exactly what they say, when they say it, at whatever the price. Most of the time, that “price” is time spent away from our mates and children. We have to keep reminding ourselves that even though we do have to fulfill our obligation at work, there’s no harm in saying no. You shouldn’t beat yourself up or feel guilty for saying no as many parents do. If you are working for a company that overloads you with so much work that you are working non-stop, then its time to reevaluate your position and ask for the help that you need. No one is ever expected to be a slave, and I’m sure you’re not getting paid for all of the headaches and stress that are put upon you. Now’s a good time to look at your company’s work/life balance policy. See if you can incorporate any of their benefits into your own schedule. Saying no may seem like a scary thought at first, but by saying no and delegating responsibilities to those who can help, can literally change your life at work. It can relieve stress and will put you into a better frame of mind. This new found attitude of refreshment will carry on over into your family life. You’ll notice a big change!
What if you are the type of person that tries to do it all?
This may mean of course that that you’ll have to set strict priorities for yourself at work. Write up a contract from yourself to yourself, stating when your workday will start and when it ends. Stick to the contract. If you are bringing work home 5 days out of the week, aim for 4 then 3, then 2, then 1 and then try to see if you can go a whole week without bringing any work home at all. When you realize that you could’ve done without, you’ll be happier, have more time to spend with your children and your mate and you’ll start to find that good balance between work and home.
Here are some suggestions for both husbands and wives:
Husbands. Check in with your wife, see if there is anything that you can help her with. Many times, mothers become stressed and don’t have as much time for their husbands as they would like. Not only are they getting the children up and ready for school or daycare, but they are making lunches, dropping the kids off at school or daycare, going to work themselves, picking the kids up, preparing dinner, doing the laundry, housecleaning and running the kids around from activity to activity. When its time to go to bed, she just wants to collapse from sheer exhaustion. Anything that you can do to assist your wife will greatly reduce her workload and will allow her some free time to spend with you or on herself. Make your wife a priority.
Wives. How many times have you felt like a super mom? Maybe that’s even your nickname. Either way, if you have these feelings on a regular basis, and you want to get control of your life, reduce stress and make your family life happier, you need to do the one thing that you tell your children to do before crossing the street: Stop. Look. Listen.
Stop. Stop what you’re doing at this very instant and start taking a realistic look at your life. You try to prioritize, but the list never ends. You never get to finish that “list” and it just keeps eating at you. Well moms, I have news for you…Most mothers never get to do everything on their daily lists, so stop feeling like a failure for not getting to complete everything. A mother’s life is never perfect no matter how hard she tries. Are you bringing work home? If yes, then you need to stop. If you can’t stop at once, do the suggestion noted above. Start by limiting the work you bring home by 4 days a week, 3 days and so on. Eventually, you too will see that the company will continue to function without its most dependable “slave”. And if you follow the other suggestions about prioritizing and delegating, this will take a tremendous load off of you at work and will allow you to have more energy for the things that you need to do throughout the day and when you arrive home.
Look. Look around you. Do you see a part of your life that you would like to get the most control over? Think of one thing that your husband can take off your list. Maybe it’s cooking, cleaning, laundry or maybe you just need a little bit of help getting the kids ready for bed and into bed. All of these things take up quite a bit of time, and when you’re working outside the home, trying to juggle everything is exhausting. Look at your list. Take that one item that you want to get control of, place it in your mind and work on that one thing for this week. Now that you’ve looked your list, I want you to do something you never thought you could do. Please throw the list away. Realize that as a mother, you are going to try to do your best. You won’t try to be perfect, but you will tell yourself (and keep telling yourself) that its ok if everything doesn’t get finished in one day. It’s ok if you need help from your husband, or your kids for that matter if they are old enough. You need to keep reminding yourself that it’s ok not to be perfect and have everything running smoothly all of the time. Another important must, and this is a BIG must, you must tell yourself that it’s ok to make time for yourself. Every mother needs to have a little time for herself to rejuvenate. Even if it’s a few minutes alone, even reading a book, it will lift your spirits and invigorate your senses.
Listen. Listen to yourself & your body. Listen to your doctor by getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night. This will help you be a happier mom! You may find that if you can readjust your schedule to allow yourself 6-8 hours of sleep per night that you will be able to get more done during the day since you’ll be well rested and have more energy. And remember, if you feel like you are doing too much, you probably are. Just take one day at a time. Don’t try to do too much in one day.
Mom, These Tips are Just For You
- Make out a weekly shopping list. Have a set day that you will go shopping.
- Plan your meals weekly (as you prepare your list). Try to find meals that you can make and freeze on the weekend. This saves a lot of time during the week.
- Have a weekly laundry day/night. Smaller loads wastes time and money.
- Have a weekly cleaning day. Get the family involved, they can help too!
- Scale down your children’s extracurricular activities to 1 per child. Some families have 3-4 kids who are involved in 2-3 activities per week, per child. When you stop running your children to activity after activity, you will find that your kids (who may resist at first) will be happier, and most of all, you will be happier because you won’t be stressed out and overly exhausted. Another benefit is that you’ll have more time and more money, which will benefit the entire family.
- Its been recommended to hug your mate at least 10 seconds per day, no words, just hugs. It sounds kind of odd, 10 seconds. But when you think about it, when is the last time you and your mate stood there, hugging each other? Hugging is a great way to relieve stress and will also help you and your mate connect. Also make sure that you say goodnight to each other. Usually a “goodnight” conversation can ensue just by making the effort to talk together each and every night.
Last but not least, let’s talk about our third point: Organize and Simplify
Most people feel that they are pretty organized and have a good handle on everything. But if you were really organized and lived simply, do you think you would be reading this article right now on how to simplify your life?
Every year, people spend hundreds of dollars on learning how to organize and simplify their life. Now take a look at your life. What part of your life needs to be organized and simplified? Most people are affected by environmental stress and don’t even realize it. Environmental stress can be defined as things around you at home, work, even your messy desk could cause environmental stress. Sometimes this type of stress makes you feel like you are losing control. Losing control means that you no longer have balance in your life. So look at your life. Where do you need the most balance? Where can you clear the clutter? Could it be in your home? Or maybe you need to clear the clutter in your office or car or maybe even your mind. My mind you ask? Yes, if you worry constantly about not getting everything done on your list even if your list is a mental list, you will clutter your mind with worry. This causes stress and will cause unbalance at home, at work, in your personal relations with others and most importantly can cause damage to you emotionally, physically and can damage your body. If this is a problem that you really cannot get control over, I would suggest speaking with your doctor for other suggestions.
Organize & Simplify Your Home
- Don’t try to organize and simplify everything at once. Take one room or project at a time and give yourself a solid time limit – 3 hours, 4 hours, 1 afternoon. And get it done! You may need to get garbage bags, a dusting rag and maybe some boxes to organize important papers. Remember, everything should have its place everything should always be in its “place” i.e., magazines in the magazine rack, pillows on the couch, and books on the bookshelf. If every one in the family is aware that every item in the house has its own place, you will be amazed at how organized the house will be. Remind the children of where things belong. Before you know it, they’ll be right on board.
- Open up mail as soon as you get it, throw the junk mail away and file the bills.
- Put dishes in the dishwasher before you go to bed. A clean kitchen makes you feel great in the morning!
- Have disposable wipes on hand. After you use the bathroom, take a disposable wipe and wipe off the sink, mirror and toilet. One wipe not only keeps the bathroom clean, but also makes your weekly cleaning a lot easier. This takes about 30 seconds. When you apply the same concept in the kitchen, you’ll feel great because your house will look clean and organized and you really will think to yourself, “How did this happen? I didn’t even really put much effort into it!”
- Add a hamper to each person’s bedroom. Hampers will organize everyone in the family and will make it easier on laundry day.
Organize & Simplify Yourself
- Preparing the night before for the next day’s activities reduces stress immensely. Suggestions such as getting clothes ready (for both you and the kids), getting lunches ready, your workbag or anything that you find yourself rushing around to get in the morning, get it ready the night before. You’ll be surprised at how much time you’ll save in the morning.
- Get 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Get up early enough so you don’t have to “rush”. You may feel disorganized when in actuality you need better time management skills.
- Set a limit to your work schedule and try your best not to bring work home
- Try to do something positive every day towards your mate or children. You may feel that this has nothing to do with organization, but when you start doing positive things towards your family, it causes a ripple effect and everyone in the family starts helping each other more and before you know it, the whole family is better organized.
Organize & Simplify Your Mind
- The best thing you can do for your mind is relax and stop worrying. Worrying induces stress and stress causes other health problems.
- Talk to your doctor about good stress relieving exercises that you can do at home and also at work.
- Deep breathing, by yourself for 10 minutes per day is a great way to de-stress.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t finish everything in one day.
- Don’t continually think about the could’ve’s, would’ve’s, should’ve’s. This type of thinking actually makes you feel disorganized and can make you feel like your life is out of balance.
- Simplify your mind by taking one thing at a time, even though you may want to do more, only do one thing at a time. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Will Following These Steps Be Easy?
Although I would love to say yes, it’s a piece of cake, it will take determination on your part to leave work at work. It will also take determination to kick old habits, put everything in its place, help out your mate, and not clutter your mind with worry. You’ll have to Realize, Prioritize, Organize & Simplify.
Most of all, if you can remind yourself every day to KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid!, whether its at home, at work or in your family life, you’ll find that you can work, have a family and still enjoy life. You will find greater happiness and balance in your life by KISSing every day!