For many, the decisions around work and family roles seem straight-forward . . . until the baby arrives! Faced with strong feelings of attachment, new time demands, the search for someone good enough to care for your child, and financial pressures, new parents begin to wonder how they will ever achieve a satisfactory balance in their lives.
In reality, work and family balance is not a weigh scale where you have an equal distribution between two roles. Rather, it's a process of integrating the multitude roles and responsibilities associated with your work, family, and personal life. Like in a symphony, the result should be a sense of harmony even though different roles will be playing louder or softer at different times.
Focus on what is most important to you. This is a good time to re-evaluate your values and priorities. At this time of your life, what needs to get the most attention? Consider what needs to be simplified, reduced, or eliminated to give you enough time for the important things in your life. Remember, there will be other seasons of life when you can shift your attention to other things you want to do.
Build in flexibility. Finding balance is an ongoing process. Make sure you have enough flexibility to make adjustments when needed. One of the keys is building in financial flexibility. Now is not the time to commit all your income for a large purchase like a new home.
Explore work options. There are many choices to help align work with your family life. Some workplaces are receptive to flexible hours, part-time work, job sharing, and telecommuting. They may offer an extended leave of absence or other family-friendly benefits. Other possibilities include self-employment, changing location, working different shifts, or quitting work for a period of time.
Connect with others. Build a support system by connecting with other new parents in your community. Attend a Baby and You class or participate in a parent group. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Together you can share resources, find out about childcare, and support each other as needed.Marie is a Certified Canadian Family Educator who specializes in work and family issues. She is the facilitator of "Work and Family: Finding a New Balance", a two and a half hour workshop offered through Calgary Regional Health Authority Perinatal Education. Call 781-1450 for more information.
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