Juggling work-life balance
Having two young boys to raise, wanting to give them time and attention, working to earn money to pay the mortgage and lifestyle you want, as well as trying to maintain a relationship with your partner and have time for yourself, can be a balancing act. For us, the children’s welfare comes first. While it can be challenging at times, being able to focus on what’s important to us and our children and having a plan in place to manage this, has allowed us to handle juggling work-life balance as parents a lot smoother than we had anticipated.
Sharing the workload
With our work-family balance, my wife and l both work four days per week. Our oldest son is at primary school and the younger boy has one day at home with mum, dad and the grandparents. As I am self-employed, I have the flexibility to drop our eldest son off at school and do pick-ups most days, whereas my partner has a demanding job with long hours so does not have as much flexibility when it comes to doing the drop-offs and pick-ups.
Our youngest son goes to child care two days per week which he thoroughly enjoys. It was tough at the start as he was only 2 years old and seemed to have some separation anxiety (more than his parents). The carers suggested that if we sent him two days per week it might help him became more familiar with his surroundings and with some reluctance – as our first son did not go to childcare, only kindergarten – we agreed. It was the best thing we did as it helped him a lot to settle in and start relaxing and enjoying himself.
To spend a little more time with our younger son and so that we could each start our working day off in time, my partner used to do the child care drop off on the way to work at approximately 6.45 am and I would drop our eldest son off at school. Due to time constraints, we eventually changed that with me doing both drop-offs. The youngest one was initially upset when I dropped him off (I think he is more comfortable with his mum), so I started taking him to the playground for 10 minutes before dropping off or taking him for a baby chino if it was too wet. Giving him 10 minutes of undivided attention in the mornings changed the vibe of our mornings and he is so much happier now when I say goodbye at drop off. While it is not always possible, if you can find the time, even if it’s 5 minutes to do something different and be with your child just that little bit longer, it is beneficial for all involved.
We both try to spend time with the kids, whether it is relaxing, watching TV, dancing to music, going for a scooter ride, cooking, playing monopoly or taking them both to Auskick or swimming lessons. Making the time to spend time together is quality time for us and we treasure every moment of it.
Spending time with your partner
With the juggling of all these tasks to maintain a work-life balance, it can also be hard to find time to spend with your partner, particularly when the kids are young and heavily dependent on you as parents.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to lean on my partner’s parent’s shoulders for some help (although they have done so voluntarily). When the grandparents are looking after the kids and spending quality time with them in the process, my partner and I do Bikram Yoga together. If possible, a little time away benefits everybody and the kids seem very happy to see us return.
Ideally, it would be good to organize some different things together, especially if you can arrange for someone to mind the children. It is hard not to feel guilty sometimes for one partner or both with leaving the kids in the care of someone else, but in my opinion, it is beneficial for all involved. It is good for the children to see the grown-ups looking after themselves and being independent people as that is what you aspire your kids to become. It builds resilience in them to say goodbye to mum and dad if they head out to exercise, go for dinner or a night away, and the kids realize all is fine and are excited when you return.
One big balancing act
We all want what is best for our children. It can be hard at times when you are tired, busy or something is bothering you, to keep your ‘act’ together – as we all know, parenting is probably the most challenging and demanding role we will ever play!
For us, a balance of childcare, staying home with the little ones and spending some quality time with the kids is the key to keeping it all together. To juggle work-life balance though I think you need to look after yourself first – exercise, have some ‘alone’ time, some time with just your partner, socialize with others, or whatever you may choose to do – so you can be stable, strong and happy enough to enjoy the beauty of having kids and the joy they bring to our lives.
About the Author
Robert Don is a devoted partner and father of two young boys. He is a professional health and well-being consultant and in his spare time enjoys time with the family.