In today’s world, dual income families are busier than ever. In many cases it takes a full two incomes just to meet financial obligations.
Then stress occurs and life happens.
And all of a sudden at-home care becomes a mandatory part of your daily lifestyle. It could be a spouse diagnosed with a chronic condition. It could be an elderly parent suddenly reaching the point where they need consistent care. In either case, your life changes from that point forward.
What does it mean to balance your work and at home care responsibilities? What does life balance really mean?
This is where it can get a little confusing. Life balance doesn’t mean putting in equal amounts of time in all categories of your life. It doesn’t mean you should spend equal amounts of time both at the time you put in at work, and at the time you put towards at-home care.
Instead, it means being able to manage both aspects of your life in an efficient way.
Think back to a time when you started a new job, or had a brand new baby in your life. Those moments were highly demanding because you were unfamiliar with the skills needed to fulfill all the requirements. You put in extra time to learn the job efficiently. Then as time passed and you became more comfortable in your position, it became a routine part of your life.
At that point, you could introduce other things into your life and give them the dedication they needed to become a success as well.
That’s where the balance comes into play. When one part of your life is working well, you have the time and energy to put something new into your life, and dedicate the time it takes to learn more about that as well.
It doesn’t mean every aspect gets equal timing, it just means you can introduce a new task without it increasing your stress levels to the point where you can’t manage both effectively.
There are simple signs you may notice that tell you life balance is falling to the wayside.
- If you’re tired and fatigued, to the point you have difficulty concentrating on tasks at hand.
- If you miss family events or begin having problems in close family relationships.
- If you lose friendships because you don’t have the time to spend with them.
- If you start working more hours at work trying to compensate for things you don’t accomplish during your normal work hours.
All of these can quickly lead to more stress, and actually put you more at risk for problems of your own.
Technology has made us a 24/7 world, where your job demands checking in and meeting obligations no matter what time of the day.And in some cases, your employer may demand it as layoffs and cutbacks have forced work levels to an all-time low. But keep in mind, if you are putting in more hours at the office, it can signal your employer that you are the go-to person willing to take on anything and everything. This can be counterintuitive because it can actually mean you’ll get an increased work load.
Instead of taking on new projects and hiding (or simply not talking about) your new caregiving role, open up to your employer or HR department and ask what benefits and programs are available to you.
It may mean telecommuting. It may mean flexible hours. It may mean taking off some time without pay.
Different opportunities are always available. There is never one solution for everyone.
Start the conversation with your employer today. And start putting some balance back into your life.