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3 ways to balance work and family life

You don’t get a second chance with your kids. I know, because I got it wrong the first time round and there’s nothing I can do to change it. There was no major damage done, but years later I still feel it. Deeply.

After my first child was born, I returned to work on a part-time basis fairly quickly, mainly due to necessity. That was all well and good. But the mistake I made was to work longer hours than necessary. The worst part was that many of those hours were in my own home, in the evenings and at weekends.

Work is an important part of life. It gives us purpose, it gives us dignity and, of course, it gives us an income. So I have no regrets about returning to work. I do recall the missed moments though. I would come home and then sit in the car for 15 minutes taking or making important calls. And they were important. However, time with children and partners is not just important, it’s precious.

Guilt-free strategy
After that experience, I knew I had to find a better way when my second child was born. After talking with my partner, friends and colleagues, and then researching and thinking about it, I came up with this strategy:

  • When I arrive home, the phone goes into the handbag
  • Kids’ time is not negotiable. Each day, I belong to them from 5:30 until their bedtime
  • Holidays are exactly that

The strategy works because I stick to it. It also requires being present at all times, whether I’m working, playing, relaxing or enjoying the family.

When I’m at work, I’m at work. I know my kids are in good care with my husband taking on the role of stay at home Dad, so I can concentrate on matching great clients with great candidates. And when I’m at home or away on holidays, I don’t have to worry about work. I know I’ve put in during the working day and there’s no need to let it encroach on my home life. No more guilt – in either direction.

Of course, there will always be some occasions when this strategy is challenged. An important interview that can only take place out of hours. Or a sick child who needs support on the day my partner is suddenly unavailable. But mostly, it works. I don’t have to distract myself thinking about second chances and missed opportunities. I’m not saying I have the balance exactly right, but the strategy I’ve described works well for my family, and perhaps it can help you too.

 

About the Author

Danielle Stone has more than 15 years’ experience assisting clients and candidates alike. She fills temporary and permanent positions, and is an expert in executive search.

She is particularly skilled at providing staffing solutions for start-ups, new contract implementations and businesses undergoing change.

With a sound understanding of industrial relations, modern awards, EBAs, change management, OH&S and strategic HR management, Danielle aims to deliver exceptional value, service and results to all of her partners.

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