7 Ways to Manage Work-Life Balance with Back to School in September
As September rolls around again, a whole new generation of children start school for the first time, while millions of others return for a new school year.
Exciting and unsettling in equal measure, September is a challenging month for any working parent. Trying to find a work-life balance is something made even harder with pressing work commitments, work travel and looming deadlines.
With 4.9 million working mothers (not to mention dads), it can be an especially challenging time for those re-entering work, or managing it with children in tow.
As children ease themselves into school life, here’s a few measures you can take to make those first few weeks and months easier for everyone.
As with all things in your working life, preparation is key. It’s a good idea to buy uniforms and school shoes, as well as order name tags at least four weeks in advance of starting school. This gives enough time for fittings, alterations and washing before their first day.
Have a Routine
Children respond well to routines, so even if you have to go away on work travel, they’ll know what to expect in your absence. This starts with regular times for going to bed and waking up, and mealtimes where possible. Even if it’s just breakfast try and eat together once a day as a family - it’s a beneficial habit to get into.
Having a schedule to follow will make it easier for everyone to transition, and helps children understand the other commitments you have outside of them.
Be Strict on Time
Speaking of routines, the same applies to you. The best way to enjoy a work-life balance is to ensure you’re dedicating adequate time to both your working life and family.
Set your working hours and be strict. If you aim to leave at 5pm every day, be sure to do so. You’ll soon find that urgent matters can wait until the next day. It can even streamline the way you work. If you plan to pick up emails later in the evening, dedicate a time to do this, say 8-9pm, so that you’re not constantly answering messages. Colleagues will soon get into the habit of not bombarding you, if you start as you mean to go on.
On the same note, be sure to dedicate your free time to yourself and your family. Be strict about how you use this, ensuring work doesn’t creep in. It might be useful to plan things to do at the weekend so that you’re forced out of the house and off the laptop!
Especially for those first few weeks in September, you may want to embargo unnecessary work travel. While this is an important part of most jobs, it’s also important to be able to travel without stress and anxiety; made harder when there’s children in the mix.
Once routines are established and your children are settled, you can resume work travel without the same fears about leaving them.
Get Flex Working Hours
Flexible working has been a buzzword in HR circles in recent times. With more and more people striving for a work-life balance, businesses are slowly accepting the idea of working remotely, or adjusting working hours to help accommodate individual needs.
Why not speak to your line manager about the opportunity to tweak your working hours to fit around your home life. With some give and take, you might find they’re quite receptive.
Alternatively, you could think about using annual leave to reduce your working days to four or less. Having more time to spend with your children during a time of change, is one way to achieve a work-life balance.
Use your Support System
Grandparents, siblings and close friends, are just some of the people you find yourself relying upon more as a parent. If you’re under work stress and can’t afford time away from the office, the next best option is to call upon a family member or close friend for help.
From early pick-ups to overnight stays when you’re on work travel, that’s what your support system is there for – don’t be apologetic in using it.
Look After Yourself
In the throes of change, it’s easy to think about everyone… but yourself.
If you want to achieve a good balance, you need to take good care of yourself, so your colleagues and kids get the best of you too.
This means, taking time to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Acknowledging that you’re going to have to let a few things go during this time is no bad thing either. Talk to your team and let them know that September is going to be an especially challenging month, they will likely understand.
Wellness of a working parent is extremely important for your family, but we've found that your wellness also impacts the wellness of the business you're working for in general. Check out our guide on the impact of wellness on the businesses bottom line.
And finally, one of the upside’s of being a working parent is the October half-term to look forward to. As if you needed one, it’s the perfect excuse to book a family holiday away (Dubai is lovely this time of year), and make the most of your time together.