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Balancing Demands of Work and Family

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 6/29/2011

You've heard that your family is your most important responsibility in life, but you need your job to take care of your family. Balancing demands of work and family is one of the biggest challenges in our day. Here we look at some ways to help you maintain a healthy balance.

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    Set Limitations on your Work Time

    People often experience too much stress because they have conflicting responsibilities at home and at work. By balancing demands of work and family, you can improve your mental health while getting more enjoyment out of your family and your work.

    If you are self employed, you can really have trouble stopping work and then starting your family time. Employed professionals can also have serious issues with this as increasing workloads pressure you to do more work at home than ever before. Although the traditional eight hour day is becoming a fading memory, you still need to control how much time you will spend working.

    Define for yourself and for your family when your work is over. You may need to work twelve hours, but if you do, make sure you find balance and quit when you say you will so you can have time for your personal and family life.

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    Leave Work at Work

    One of the major challenges while balancing demands of work and family is keeping your mind focused on one or the other at the appropriate time. Even if you do better at limiting your work time, you might still have trouble leaving the issues at the office behind and focusing on more important things at home. This is especially difficult if there's trouble at work or a looming deadline. You might be with your family physically, but your mind is still at the office. Discipline yourself to keep matters from work and home in their rightful place in your mind and you will find that you have a much more fulfilling life.

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    Prioritize Your Life

    You have to decide what your priorities are. After all, working extra might bring your family needed income, but how do you estimate the cost of missing your son or daughter's concert or ball game? Take some time to define what things in life are most important and then live by those priorities. An example of such a decision is determining how important your career is. After your children are grown, you may decide to continue to work, so is maintaining continuity more important than spending time at home while they are young? Decisions like this one are personal, so there aren't any right and wrong answers. However, when you have your priorities set, you will have a much easier time balancing demands of work and family.

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    Find a Family Friendly Employer

    Find a family friendly workplace. You can get help with balancing demands of work and family by working for an employer that is sensitive to family well-being. These are usually larger employers, although businesses of all sizes can be found that respect the need for a balance between professional and family roles.

    Look for a company that has taken the initiative by making child and/or elder care, flexible work schedules, parental leave, employee assistance programs, and physical fitness programs available.

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    The Two-Way Street

    Just as problems at work can interfere with your family life, problems at home can go to work with you to work - especially when you get repeated text messages, phone calls, etc. Over-emphasizing family at the expense of work can lead to performance degradation. This could eventually lead to dismissal, making things even worse for your family life. Your roles at home and at work are both important, so use these ideas to find a balance between them, and let go of the things that threaten that balance.