Tug-Of-War: The Work-Home Balance Dilemma

I’ve been talking to a lot of patients recently who have been struggling with finding the right work-home balance for their families.  Especially with COVID and so many parents working from home, it can be very hard to juggle everything.

Let’s face it:  work is necessary.  For the family to survive someone has to earn an income.  Many people also find their work very fulfilling and a source of great satisfaction.  However, finding the right balance between your obligations at work and your obligations to your family is often tough.

When I have patients struggling with the stress of juggling home and work, I ask them to do two things.

First of all, I validate their dilemma and ask THEM to do the same.  It is normal to find it difficult to be pulled in two directions at once.  On the one hand, spouse and kids and household tasks are very important.  On the other hand, like I said before, earning an income is critical.  The person has to give themselves permission to feel stressed!

Especially working moms.  The women’s liberation movement has taught girls and young women that they can have it all.  They can have happy kids and a close, loving marriage as well as a fulfilling career.  While this is true, it is a VERY hard juggling act, and usually something has to take a backseat.  Working moms feel the stress very acutely and need permission to acknowledge they CAN’T do everything and to ask for the help they need.

The second thing I ask patients to do when they are struggling to make sense of their work-home balance is to make some lists.  List their priorities.  What are all the things that are important at work and important at home.

For instance, at work they might list priorities of getting a promotion, getting a raise, expanding their company’s sales force, or helping to open a new branch.  Entrepreneurs in particular must make priorities because if it’s YOUR business it’s pretty easy to let it overwhelm the rest of your life.

At home a person might list being home for dinner every night, scheduling date night regularly with their spouse, or taking one of the children to swim lessons or band practice.  Everyone’s priorities are unique.

Once the priorities are listed it’s easier to see where they might conflict.  For instance, committing to being home for dinner every night would keep you from working evenings.  A job that requires you to travel regularly might interfere with family activities.

Ultimately the balance of work and family is an individual and personal one.  There is NO right answer and the solution YOU choose has to be right for your situation.  Being open and frank with your spouse is very important because (as in my house) when one spouse works a lot, the other does most of the heavy lifting as far as the household tasks go.

Love, support, understanding and humor can be great tools to help smooth any rough spots in finding the right balance.  It’s never easy, but it’s definitely worth it!

QUESTION:  What struggles have you had in finding a balance between work and family?

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