We are often spinning so many plates as parents. Since starting my business there has been a big plate added to my juggling act. The first year the work/life balance was nowhere to be found. I am learning the hard way how important balance is. Therefore I wanted to share with you what I have learned so far. This does not mean that I get it right all the time (far from it) and that I find this constant juggle easy. However, these 8 tips are something I am incorporating into my own life at the moment. I hope these tips will be useful to you as well. Do let me know any of your own tips in the comments or by sending me a message. We are in this together!
1. Make yourself a priority
Above anything else make sure you take good care of yourself. It isn’t easy to juggle both work and parenting, especially not when working from home during the pandemic. Make it a priority to do things you enjoy and give your self-permission to set aside time for self-care. This will look different for everyone. It can be a bath, reading a book, being creative, watching television, meditation or learning something new.
I did a really wonderful assignment the other day from the book ‘The artist Way’ by Julia Cameron. I had to write down 5 things I would have liked to be in another lifetime. Mine were amongst others pottery artist, a dancer, a fashion designer, a monk, and a sheep herder. And then you have to try to incorporate something from this into your week. This way I picked up knitting by watching a YouTube video and I am making my first ever scarf.
2. Get some daily exercise
Exercise is not only good for the body but also for the mind. Even if you just go outside for 20min or do a short yoga sequence, the benefits will be worth it. Find an exercise that suits you and plan this into your day. I started running using the BBC app Couch to 5k and doing yoga with Adriene, which are both completely free. While home-schooling and during the holidays, I take my little one with me for the run. He goes on his bike next to me, not ideal but better than nothing. And the evenings I can then dedicate to journaling, knitting or yoga.
3. Get organised
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when there are so many little and big tasks on your mind. So, the best thing is to plan your days, weeks, months and if possible, even quarters. It is important to not only plan your work-related activities, but also your you-time, kid’s activities, and family time.
Planning can help make your life easier. Plan your meals! This one took me a long time to do because I really love trying new dishes. But it just became too overwhelming to think every day what I will make in the evening. We therefore created 2 week recipe plan which rotates, so that not every week is the same and there is a bit more variety.
To keep all members of the family informed you can also use a family calendar or have a shared calendar on your phones.
As a business owner, I love using my Dailygreatness business diary. I also use Trello a lot, which is a free online app that contains lists and helps me keep track of projects. I use Trello to organise my marketing, list the social media and blogging ideas I have, and store quotes I love.
4. Find your support system
It is important to have people around you who support you and do not judge you. Whom you can be honest with. Whom you know will be there with a listening ear, a supportive suggestion, or a helping hand. It is of course wonderful to have a local support system, but if this is not available then you can always find likeminded people online as well.
As a business owner I am so grateful for other professional photographers I have met and bonded with online. Community over competition is so very true and something I feel really strongly about.
5. Outsource and delegate wherever possible
I cannot stress this enough: Try to make your life as easy as possible. So that you can save time and do more of the things you love. Don’t feel like you cannot let other people take on some of your tasks. Ask yourself: ‘Am I really the only one who can do this?’ If not, then you can outsource it.
Ways that I have made my life easier is for example by having my groceries delivered. Other things you can think of is hiring a cleaner, or by getting a gardener. If you are a business owner, you can also think of getting a virtual assistant or a social media expert.
Don’t worry about someone not doing the task right, as you can always teach someone how you like things to be done. It will be temporarily more work, but in the long run you will save lots of precious time.
6. Let your partner or kids help you
I have recently read a powerful book called ‘Invisible women’ by Caroline Criado Perez. In her book she states that: “Globally, 75% of unpaid work is done by women who spend between 3 and 6 hours per day on it compared to men’s average of 30 minutes to 2 hours. (…) Men have carried on engaging in leisure pursuits – watching TV, playing sports, playing computer games. In the UK, the Office of National Statistics found that men enjoy 5 hours more leisure time per week then women”. And this does not even include the mental burden it brings to have all these extra responsibilities as a woman. Because even when you’re in a partnership where all is equally shared, often it is still one person, mainly women, who have to deal with the mental workload of running the household. The result is that as the partner who does most of the household chores starts to feel run down.
So, make sure you ask your partner for help or make sure that you (slowly) start shifting the existing disbalance. That you start including perhaps your partner into the planning and divide the tasks equally amongst yourselves.
Of course, all this is not relevant if you’re a single parent as you’ll be doing most, if not all, yourself. However, if you have older children then you can also involve them into the chores as well.
7. Leave work at work
I personally find it hard to leave work and not do anything in the evenings. However, this is something I, and many of us, must be stricter about. It is good to set a particular time after which you will not do any work. And most importantly you have to stick to this agreement with yourself. Know that work can wait, and that tomorrow is another day.
And when you set these boundaries around work, it also means that you will be able to set time aside for family life and have some personal time. Having dedicated time for family and yourself will be more enjoyable when you can leave work at work. Your job is done and tomorrow is another day.
8. Give up on perfection
It is so easy to feel guilty, especially as a parent. Oh my! How I am familiar with this myself. Always wondering if what I do is right or enough. So, the most important thing is to give up on perfection. On wanting to be the perfect parent, with a clean home and everything in order. Everyone makes mistakes, so forgive yourself when you make one.
It is also not at all helpful to compare yourself. What works for one family might not work at all for yours. Life from the outside, especially online, also looks a lot better than their real lives might be. Most people will not share their lows, but only their highs. If you feel that some social media accounts bring you down, then do not feel bad about unfollowing or temporarily stopping social media all together.
Wishing you many balanced days ahead.
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