It's never been easy to juggle work and family life, but there are several little things we can do each day to help us get the balance right.
1. Practice acceptance
The first step to a balanced life is simply to accept what you can and can't do. It's possible to achieve a balanced life. It's unrealistic to think you can achieve a perfect life.
Forgive yourself for the times when you can't be there for your children, and forgive yourself when you can't give full commitment to your job. You can be a good parent and a good worker. You can't be perfect at either one, never mind both.
2. Remember why you work
It's probably in order to provide for your family, right? It's true that your time, love and affection are more important to your children than things. But it's also true that money is a necessity.
Every time you feel guilty about having to go to work, turn it around and take a moment to feel proud about how well you provide for your kids.
3, Communicate with your childcare provider
According to this article at Parenting.com, finding childcare you're truly happy with can be a huge challenge. Good daily communication can help ease the worry.
Try to find a little time each day to talk to whoever cares for your kids when you're not there. Set up a system that gives you peace of mind. Many daycare centers give you a report of how your child's day went, from what they ate to which games they played. If you have a less formal type of childcare this may not be practical, but schedule a few minutes at pick-up time to ask how things went that day.
You can't do it all, so make sure you do the most important things first. Spending quality time with your family should come before all non-essential chores. If you have to take work home with you, do it after you've hung out with your kids for a while.
Make sure you know what's important to your children, too. If they really want you to be at that school play or sports event, you need to make it a priority. If they think the play is lame and genuinely don't care if you're there, maybe you don't need to make it a priority.
Spending just five minutes a day organizing can really pay off. Consider getting a big calendar or wall planner and write all your commitments, appointments and deadlines on it. Include classes, play dates, kids extra activities, PTA meetings, birthdays, work events and deadlines for you and your spouse.
Review your schedule daily and plan ahead. This one tool can help you arrange childcare well in advance when you need it, or remind you to buy birthday cards and presents for the next couple of months all in one shop.
Multitasking gets a bad rap, but many of us have to do several things at once just to get through the day.
Try to create situations where you're achieving more than one thing at once and maybe even enjoying it. Sometimes it can be stressful to cook the evening meal while minding the kids, but young kids actually love to "help" cook.
Remember, just sitting up on the countertop tearing lettuce or mixing mayonnaise into a bowl of tuna can be helping to a very little one.
7. Make family time fun time
It's easy to get into a situation where you spend all your non-working time trying to catch up on chores and look after the children at the same time. What do you love to do? Can you do it as a family? Could you go for a bike ride, or a nature walk, roller skate, swim or play a sport together?
Even very young kids love going to museums, especially if there are a few hands-on exhibits, and maybe there are things you loved to do as a child that you've forgotten. Perhaps you'd like to go to the zoo or a petting farm. Some days we just forget to have fun with our kids.
8. Create routines and family rituals
This can be a real challenge to get started, but routines really do help family life run more smoothly. Meal times, homework, bath time and bedtime are less stressful if everyone knows what to expect and gets into the habit of doing the things expected of them.
A rock solid bedtime routine can turn around the whole day when you're all feeling a bit frazzled. Enjoy the ritual of reading and cuddling in bed at night and get your kid to tell you the best (and worst) things that happened to him that day.
When you end the day like this and top it off with a kiss and an "I love you," you'll feel you've shared at least one great moment with your child that day. That alone can help you feel more balanced.