This week's blog post comes from a single parent's point of view on the work life balance when going at it all solo. Daniel Sherwin created Dad Solo to bring together a network to help give additional support when going through the single parent journey. This week's reading is a good reminder for all parents, whether you are single or not, it will hit the core for major areas we can help find the right balance. After reading be sure to check out his website with additional help and resources!
If you’re a single parent, no one needs to tell you that finding a balance between your home life and work life is a challenge. Sometimes, the busyness of life can leave you feeling dizzy. By enlisting good support and creating a structured life, you can find equilibrium.
Set your priorities. First, decide what is most important to you. This means evaluating how you address your work, especially in your off hours. Make sure you leave work in the workplace and don’t bring it home with you, physically or mentally. Here are ways to help you accomplish this:
Phone and email. One of the ways experts recommend achieving a healthy work-life balance is turning off your work phone when you leave for the day. Similarly, don’t respond to or even review emails from work after hours. You might feel guilty, but claiming your time for your family as your own is significant. Your duties to your position should end when your shift ends.
Scheduling. At least one day per week, you should leave work at the time you are scheduled to leave. If you tend to linger beyond your scheduled work day, make it a point to stop on time at least one day every week.
Reach out. Your support network is vital to being a successful parent. Family members or neighbors are often able and willing to help with childcare arrangements. Experts at The Balance point out that sometimes people who care about you may be concerned about overstepping their bounds, so don’t be afraid to ask when you could really use a hand.
Expanding your network. Other single parents are also a great resource, and you might even find cooperative arrangements. You should also consider community and faith-based organizations. Many times, there are resources available in your local area you can tap into - you just need to ask.
De-stress. It’s important to remember your children will be sensitive to your stress. When you bring your work home with you, either by actually doing it or by allowing it to increase your general anxiety and stress levels, your children will also be stressed. Experts recommend reducing your stress levels by employing a self-care routine that includes exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating right.
Routine and rules. An important aspect in keeping balance in your life is establishing and maintaining framework. Setting a routine and rules greatly lowers stress in the home. You and your children will both benefit from the stability; predictability and follow-through create a sense of security. The CDC recommends setting a daily schedule and establishing consequences for broken rules. Not only will your children know what to expect, they will feel better.
Communicate. After working a full day, you might lack the energy or perspective to engage with your children. However, it’s important to talk and really listen when your children interact with you. It’s your opportunity to bond with and understand them.
Sleep habits. When establishing your schedule, it’s particularly important to set a bedtime routine and follow it. With a bedtime routine, children learn how to unwind and actually start preparing to sleep before they ever hit the pillow. It’s also vital to ensure your child gets sufficient sleep every night. Studies show that not only do children maintain better moods and perform better in school, they stay healthier. Getting sufficient sleep helps children literally grow healthier and stronger with a proper release of growth hormones. They also have healthier hearts, are less inclined toward obesity, and maintain stronger immune systems. Don’t forget, good sleep habits also include taking care of your own sleep hygiene. Avoid TV, phones or tablets close to your own bedtime, and consider incorporating activities to promote rest. Things like meditation, stretching and deep breathing can work wonders along with a hot cup of chamomile tea.
Success as a single parent. By focusing on your priorities, maintaining a good schedule, and establishing your support network, you can leave work at your workplace, allowing you more time and energy for your children. Similarly, learn to de-stress, firm up the routine at home, communicate with your children, and ensure everyone has good sleep habits. Following these steps will help you balance your work and home life effectively.