Working parents: Balancing career and responsibilities
The white picket fence and the white lab coat. The family weekend getaways and the corporate retreats. Climbing trees with the kids and climbing the ladder at work.
Such are the dichotomies of modern life, where many of us are walking the tightrope balancing career and family responsibilities. Or at least, attempting to.
Because there’s no doubt about it, parents are out there across the country wearing invisible capes whether they’re working or not. For those that are employed, it can be a genuine struggle to strike the right balance between committing to their workplace and advancing in their career and being there for their loved ones without missing the important moments.
In our Kiwi Concerns Report, we found that almost three-quarters (71%) of us were very or extremely concerned about the impact of work on life and wellbeing.
If you count yourself amongst those numbers, we’ve put together a few tightrope-walking tips that we hope you’ll find helpful!
The importance of balance in day-to-day life
Work-life balance is important for all sorts of reasons.
On the one hand, it’s important for your work. Employers who offer a good level of balance for employees may have a competitive edge when it comes to employing new talent, getting more from their staff, seeing lower absenteeism, and improving productivity.
On the other hand, it’s incredibly important for your life. It may help to decrease health problems, reduce burnout, increase mindfulness, and just make people happier in general. Funny, that.
The good thing is that many of us understand just how important this balance is. One study found that 69% of professionals said that work-life balance, including flexible working arrangements, was their top priority when looking for a new job.
Furthermore, apparently Kiwis are some of the best in the world when it comes to work-life balance. Part of that is thanks to our high annual leave allowance and decent rate for sick pay. And just in case you’re curious – Australia came in fourth place.
How to create a work life balance
Prioritisation is an essential skill when it comes to finding balance, as it helps you determine which parts of work (and which parts of life) are non-negotiables.
Business.govt.nz recommends starting by asking yourself questions about which projects are most critical, and deciding if there’s anything you need to get done today that can help make your week easier or more productive. You can also consider items on your list that are nice-to-haves, but not strictly necessary – these can only get done if you manage to find the time.
You might prefer to prioritise on a Friday afternoon, so you can relax over the weekend knowing you have a game plan for the following week. Or you might work better by making these lists on a Monday morning so your priorities are fresh in your mind as you get started for the week.
Then, go home and do the same thing for your personal and family life.
Work only your contracted hours
The New Zealand Legal Industry Employment Report recently found that Kiwis in the legal industry are working nearly six hours more than they are contracted for each week. That’s almost an entire day of unpaid work – every week.
And the legal industry isn’t alone when it comes to employees working free overtime.
For workers, it’s easy to get caught up in urgent projects and tasks that simply have to get done. However, there’s a difference between putting in the extra hours once in a blue moon to show your dedication, and putting in extra hours every single week.
Look after yourself
When things get busy, many of us fall into the trap of sleeping less, skipping exercise, and not making the effort to eat healthy, nutritious meals.
But exercising can help you stay physically fit and mentally strong to better handle busy times at work, and healthy meals can make a difference to your energy levels.
Even though it can seem counterintuitive, taking the time to look after yourself can help to improve your work-life balance. Plus, looking after yourself is something you can do with the fam, making it heavy on the ‘life’ side of the scales.
Effective strategies on how to switch off when you're with family
The ‘Sunday Scaries’ has become a common term to describe the anxiety someone feels over the weekend about the looming workweek. So how can you switch off to enjoy the time you do have with your family, rather than thinking about work?
Create a plan
One tip is to make a plan for your Sunday. Rather than sitting around watching the clock count down, plan to do something you enjoy – that could be a hike, a trip to the beach, or simply an at-home movie marathon.
Whatever it is, it can help to keep your mind off work and enjoy the moment.
Save some time for relaxation
A survey conducted by Budget New Zealand found that almost a third (31%) of Kiwis were too busy doing chores to get away on weekends.
That’s obviously not ideal if you’re looking for balance.
Even if you are doing chores on a weekend, save some time to relax and enjoy your time together as a family.
Switch off, literally
Do you keep your work email on your phone and check it out of work hours? Do you dread opening messages from colleagues?
Unless keeping your work phone on you outside working hours is part of your contract, switch it off. Or at least, remove the work apps and ignore anything that flashes on your screen that has anything to do with work.
That’s Monday morning’s problem, for now.
Consider switching jobs
If your work is so stressful, difficult, or demanding that you’re finding it impossible to switch off, consider looking around for what else might be available.
We already know that 53% of Kiwis are extremely or very frustrated with unfulfilling work or a lack of promotion opportunities thanks to our Kiwi Concerns Report, so you may even have more than one reason to spruce up the old CV and start keeping an eye on the classifieds for something that allows for much better work-life balance.
Get peace of mind
One final thing – life is simply better when you don’t need to worry about things going wrong. That’s peace of mind in a nutshell. And to protect your family financially if the worst happens to you, that’s life insurance.
Request your quote for life insurance to see how much peace of mind you could get with One Choice, so you can focus on enjoying the important things in life without worrying about your family, if things go wrong.
5 Dec 2023