Managing Work-Life Balance During Return to School
Working parents are a critical part of the U.S. workforce. According to the job website Glassdoor, 2 in 5 workers have a child under the age of 18, and 1 in 9 have a child younger than 5 at home. For anyone with caregiving responsibilities, balancing them with work can be a real challenge with no easy solutions. Work-life balance refers to a person equally prioritizing career demands with personal obligations.
A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects, such as less stress, lower risk of burnout and greater well-being. Whether you work from home or commute to your office daily, taking care of kids in school can be challenging. Consider the following tips to help working parents like you manage their work-life balance during the back-to-school season.
Set a Schedule
Try to adapt your schedule around your children’s activities. If you’re fortunate enough to work a flexible job or in a remote environment, you may be able to shift your hours to accommodate your children’s school and activity schedules. You may find it helpful to be home when your kids return from school each day. To accommodate this, you could shift your work schedule to start earlier or work later.
This doesn’t mean you should be sacrificing sleep. A lack of sleep can increase stress, affect alertness, distort memory and hurt your physical health. Since your children need more rest, plan earlier bedtimes to help you finish your work without sacrificing sleep. The ability to adjust your schedule may depend on where you work and your role. Be sure to discuss any changes you want to propose with your manager.
Communicate Your Needs
Communicate with your employer about schedule changes during the school year. Your children’s transition back to school and extracurricular activities can be a lot to handle for your family. Most employers are willing to help you adjust your day or provide necessary support and resources.
Review Workplace Policies
It’s essential to be prepared for anything during your child’s school year, including illnesses that may require you to take time off. Review your workplace policies to understand your available resources during the back-to-school season. You should feel confident you’re protected in an emergency. Contact your manager or HR department if you’re unsure what policies are in place.
Prioritize Your Health
Adapting your schedule to that of your children can be ideal on paper, but it’s important that you are still prioritizing your own health. This includes getting enough sleep, fueling your body properly, exercising and spending time outdoors. Set realistic expectations about what’s possible during a typical day. Some days you may be able to prioritize your kid’s schedule, while others may be geared more toward yourself. It’s important to find a balance that works best in your life.
Paying for additional assistance is not feasible for everyone, but if you can afford it, options are available to help make life more efficient. Services are available to help shuttle kids to school, nanny and take care of other tasks, such as grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning. Paying for an external service to help with certain aspects of your day can help you spend more time with your family.
For More Information
No matter your challenges during the school year, proper planning and communication are essential. Talk to your manager if you have concerns or questions about your work-life balance during the school year.