The Balancing Act

Somewhere between the deadlines and the meetings and the to-do list, I’d forgotten the most important responsibility in my life — my family. I knew things needed to change — and fast. I needed to focus on my family and let them know they were just as important as my work.

We set out to meet our work goals and somehow in the midst of it all, we forget that waiting at home is that young boy wanting to play catch. Why does it happen? How does it happen? How can you prevent it from happening to you?

Here are ten ideas to help you as you strive to balance your work and your family.

  1. Get your family together and craft a family mission statement. It’s just as important to be intentional as a family as it is in the workplace. If you want your family to all be on the same page; in terms of your life purposes and the principles that would govern our time together you need to decide what that is.
  2. Carve out time for your family each week…in advance. Put it on your calendar. Stop saying you have to get one more thing done before you leave for home. Plan your week with specific ending times and stick to them.
  3. Jettison things from your schedule that aren’t important. March to the mission that you are called to, not the mission that others want you to do for them. Be ruthless here!
  4. If your work situation requires constant excessive hours to get the job done, it’s time to evaluate other ways to accomplish the task. You can’t accomplish the mission of the entire company or organization single-handedly, so stop trying!
  5. If you’re a leader of others, have them actually write into their job descriptions the need to be committed to their family. Note specific ways in which they will make this a priority.
  6. Develop an activity together with your family as a whole, and/or with individual family members. Maybe it’s hiking, a date at Al’s for breakfast on Saturday, or tea and a chat with your spouse each day. As you do this, remember that teachable moments are almost like ‘intentional accidents’: they happen, but not always because you planned them. So be sure to plan large quantities of time with your family throughout the year so they’ll have a chance to occur.
  7. Create a ‘spiritual life development plan’ for each of your kids, outlining their strengths, their areas for improvement and your plans to shape their character as they grow up under your care. Our children are arrows that are being released into a world that we will never fully see. It’s our job to shape them into arrows that will fly straight and travel the distance.
  8. Schedule a date night of at least an hour once a week with each child and your spouse, where you focus solely on them. It doesn’t have to be expensive; time is the critical ingredient here. When our budget has been tight, I’ve had this time in my backyard with my son.
  9. When you’re traveling, send an email or a postcard back to your family. Call them on the phone.
  10. At the end of a day, ask your kids and spouse these questions: ‘What happened today that you’re proud of?’ ‘What happened today that you wish you could do over?’

If your spouse or children were to describe how your performance as a spouse and parent, what would they say?

If you’re not happy with the words that are echoing around in your head, it’s time to make some changes.

“Hey Dad, I passed!” exclaimed my 7-year-old son. You see, I’m writing this afternoon from inside a Dojang, where I came with my son to get graded for his next belt level. As my son and I celebrated him achieving his red belt with a big hug, I was glad I’d decided the to-do list at work could wait. The memory of this afternoon with him will last forever.

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