By RJ Oster, governor at large, Generation Next
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of Generation Next Edition
Managing a balanced home/work life is like a weighing scale: when the scale tips, it can create stress and strife in the family, which leads to an unhealthy relationship or a toxic work environment.
What's a healthy balance? It looks different for everyone, but I’d like to share a few things my wife and I have done to create balance. (I stress that not every situation is the same as mine - for example, marital and parental status will vary. Some of you might even have a relationship that contends with your work life.)
In my early 20s, I was still single and childless; life was simple. I was busy making decent money and establishing my career.
When Sara and I got married (celebrating 10 years in July), I had a demanding job that took a lot from my family life - and I didn’t know how to balance the two. As a newlywed, my relationship deserved my attention and I would think, “Well, someone has to be the one to make the money.”
When our first child came, I realized my busy schedule created stress for my wife. So we sat down and started to set healthy work and family boundaries. Here is what it looked like:
- There were to be no work phone calls or emails after 5 p.m. When I was home, I was home.
- We made time for each other. We set aside time each week for a date night.
This was the first pair of boundaries we set, and it seemed to work until our second child was born. When our kids started getting older and more independent, Sara decided it was time for her to return to the workforce.
At that time, I was traveling a lot for my work. WOW, did this create an enormous amount of chaos and stress in the relationship and for the kids. We went back to the drawing board and established more boundaries.
- We implemented a “no phone, computer or tablet” policy after 6 p.m. (by 6, the kids are doing homework, and I am usually finishing my workday from home if I’m in town).
- We make a point to sit down at the dinner table every night as a family, and eat together. We now have an environment with no distractions: no phones, no TV, no video games.
- We created an environment at night where we could all sit as a family and watch a show.
- Phones are to remain off limits after the kids are asleep. We stay off social media and watch movies together. This enables us to bond and enjoy each other’s company.
- We try to do one activity together as a family each weekend. This creates excitement for the kids and gives everyone something to look forward to.
These are a few of the ground rules we established to prioritize what is, for us, a healthy work/home life balance.
Although we verge off the path from time to time, it’s easy to get back on track when we refer to the guidelines we wrote down. Your unique guidelines will change as your family evolves; it takes work and determination to make a healthy work/home life balance. Many challenges and roadblocks can come into our lives, and having a reasonably balanced work and home life can greatly impact the well-being of your family.