Trying to find a balance between work and home life can be very stressful at times and can even lead to depression or worst. By learning proper stress management strategies that balance becomes less of a problem and will ultimately lead to a happier family life.
I am a mother of three beautiful girls, a wife, a military instructor, a college student, and an active duty member of the Armed Forces. I could talk to you all day about stress and how balancing my work and home life have been difficult. However, it wasn’t until I learned proper stress management skills that I truly learned how to live a happier family life away from work.
I wake up every single morning at 4:30 a.m., get into my uniform, eat breakfast, and leave the house no later than 5:30 a.m. so I can get to work on time to teach my class full of military professionals. Up until 5:00 p.m. I am lecturing on military law and sometimes don’t get home until 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. When I get home I help my wife do the dishes, pick-up the house, and cook dinner. Let’s not forget that I need to spend time with my daughters, because I haven’t seen them all day. Once my daughters go to bed, which is usually an hour or so from when I walk in the door, I start on my homework for my master’s degree (sometimes I hire help). Somewhere in all of this I need to find time to show my wife appreciation and affection so she knows I haven’t forgotten about her. This is my normal day-to-day life.
However, every couple of months, sometimes weeks, I have to go on military business trips to another state, sometimes to foreign countries for a couple weeks at a time. On top of this, being an active duty member of the Armed Forces I get called up for duty to a foreign deployed location in a war zone and am gone for six months. In other words, life can be very stressful and balancing work with home life can almost be a chore. Let’s not forget about my wife and the stress that she has to manage on a daily basis when I am not around.
To be quite frank there is no one way to attain a balanced life. In the end it is a personal decision on how one decides to balance work, spouse, significant other, kids, friends, and self. The goal with stress management in this situation is to find helpful strategies to approach balancing work and home life all while finding the joy in a hectic lifestyle. A majority of stress management strategies are similar to what you do on a day-to-day basis while you are at work: organizing, delegating tasks, planning, and communicating.
I use the following stress management strategies for balancing work with my family life: creating time for myself, maintaining flexibility, enjoying quality family time, letting go of guilt, building a support network, and organizing.
Creating Time for Myself
In order to be a good wife, mother, friend, and co-worker I have to be good to myself first. I have learned over time that taking time for myself every once in a while makes a huge difference. This gives me time to relax and relieve some of my tensions. This in itself helps me minimize a tremendous amount of stress. Every weekend my hsuband lets me sleep in an hour or so and he lets me sit down and write articles whenever I feel, as long as I have my laptop and am sitting next to him. In addition, every month both of us take a day and go out with our friends for a boy or girl night out.
Sometimes there are activities during the day or in the evening that I just don’t have time to finish. Learning to just let it ride and accomplishing it later makes a huge difference when managing my stress levels. Just remember that things can change at a moment’s notice and stressing over them will not get the job done either. Sometimes a goal cannot be accomplished at that moment in time, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accomplished tomorrow or another time. Just be flexible and just know that if the activity is important and needs to be accomplished that it will.
Enjoying Quality Family Time
Some days I may only have an hour to spend with my kids once I get home for work. On those days I make sure that hour is quality hour. I will do nothing but provide love and affection with my children during that time. My husband and I have agreed that when I get home from work that I will dedicate at least an hour, hopefully more, to my children. I will help them with any homework they may still have, go outside and play any activity they want to, take a walk around the block, go to the playground, or anything that will truly bring a time of quality for my children and me. I make sure that when I am home that my kids get my attention so they know I love them deeply. Because of this we have a wonderful relationship.
Once the kids go to bed I dedicate an hour, hopefully more, to my husband. I make sure that I tell him that I love him and throughout the day I will send him a text message or two just to let him know I am thinking about him. In addition, we like to get a babysitter every couple months so we can go out on a date without any thoughts of work or any factors that cause stress at home.
Letting Go of Guilt
Probably one of the biggest causes of stress and depression is holding on to guilt. I have learned to let the past be in the past and to live in the present. If I held onto all the guilt I have felt for not being in my children’s lives more or being more present in my marriage then I would have already been in a grave filled with depression. Holding on to guilt can completely immobilize thoughts and cause someone to become more stressed and less organized in their lives, because all think about is how they could have done better. Learn to let go of the guilt and make every day a happy day in its own way.
Building a Support Network
The best support network to have is family and friends. I have built my life around my husband and kids and have learned to let ego go. My husband is the one in the house that wears the pants. When it comes to the bills, kids, house, etc…, he calls the shots. Not only does this relieve a tremendous amount of stress on my part, but this always lets my husband play a big part in our family life, giving him satisfaction, as he is a stay at home father. I make sure that when I am having a bad day that I don’t bring the anger home, but rather talk to my husband, call my mom, or call a friend to just vent. This in itself can turn a bad day around.
The number one stress management strategy in my opinion above all is organizing. Organize your thoughts and tasks into a list with highest priorities first. Put suspense dates or times on each of the items on your list. When I am organized and complete my tasks I immediately feel less stress, because I end up accomplishing more than I would if I just did things as they came up. Plus I get the satisfaction of getting the job done and still having more time to do other things like getting home early to spend more time with my husband and kids. Organizing allows me to give myself time to spend with my family as well as get my homework done for college each night and even throw an article or two in. I am always in bed during the week no later than 11:00 p.m. because I organize my day. Organizing relieves the majority of my stress.
With everything I do on a daily basis I have managed to balance work with home life with as little stress possible. I love what I do for a living, love being a mother, and love being a wife all because I use these specific stress management strategies. Once stress is controlled life is easier to balance in every way.