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How to Balance Family and Career

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


How can you prioritize your family while at the same time attaining success in your chosen career? How do you balance the demands of both your personal and professional lives?

Work life balance can feel like a delicate balancing act.
Work life balance can feel like a delicate balancing act. | Source

What You Can and Should Do to Balance Kids and Careers

Realize that success at your career requires working hard but should not require overtime. Working full time should mean around forty hours a week at your job.

Focus on improving productivity at work by minimizing distractions, eliminating meetings, working through lunch and keeping breaks short instead of working 60 hours a week. And don't feel obligated to attend networking events for work or professional groups that don't necessarily improve your career prospects but eat into your personal time.

Balance family and career by focusing on each during the time you are devoted to it. For example, don't accept business phone calls at your child's play or talk on the phone during dinner. Also limit personal activities while at work so that you are not calling the school or making other personal calls from work.

Your children aren't exempt from work. In fact, they should be helping do housework at home. Younger children can set the table and pick up toys. Older children should clean up the table and run the dishwasher. Teenagers should do laundry, take care of pets, assist younger children with homework and help make dinner. Parents should supervise these chores while doing her own household tasks such as paying bills, cleaning counters or making dinner.

Limit kids' activities that take away from family time. When Mom gets home from work, shuttling kids to sports, enrichment activities, play-dates and tutoring takes up time from the family as a whole and leaves her with little time to do housework or build up her own skill sets.

Children do not suffer if limited to a sport that meets after school and a few clubs with few demands on weekends. The family does suffer if they do not eat together regularly and have uninterrupted time to connect. Your children can still get into 99% of the colleges in the country if they have only one after school activity instead of an art, a sport, a student governance position and volunteer work.

Make volunteer activities a family activity. I've heard parents say that their middle school or high school student must volunteer one Saturday a month to maintain their Honor Society membership or be considered for scholarships. Parents and younger siblings should join into those activities. Help your teenager collect food for the food pantry. Join into the Eagle Boy Scout project as volunteer labor. In the end, both the parents and the kids can list these activities on their resumes.

Parents should look for courses that build up their knowledge, and then invite your teenager along. Take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University money management course and bring the teenagers along to learn about how money really works. Attend marriage and family building seminars and have your adolescents come and listen. If you are taking technical education or computer courses, have your teenager audit the course and learn alongside you.

Select jobs that let you learn on the clock, instead of using up evenings and weekends in classes to build up your skills. If you must take continuing education courses to maintain your licensing, ask your employer if that can be covered as paid training.

Avoid jobs where the corporate culture mandates overtime, regardless of productivity or the actual need to be present. Don't work for employers who demand that everyone show up on a Saturday team building session, regardless of the personal chaos it creates. Refuse to work for bosses who mandate after hours drinks, even when you need to go pick up the kids.

It is OK to say no. You do not have to become a volunteer for every group your child joins. You should attend parent-teacher conferences, but this does not necessitate joining every bake sale. Push back when schools push fundraisers for ski trips and luxuries. You don't have to plan more elaborate birthday parties each year. Simple vacations to local events or camping are as good as cross-country trips. Your kids don't have to be in five different activities, such that you have to choose which game or performance to miss each week.

Don't wait forever to have children, assuming that the right time will come. A woman's fertility starts dropping at 30, and few can have children after 40. Plan for a family, and then actually have children if that is what you want to do. Having children when things are OK but not perfect is better than waiting for a perfect time and then facing infertility in an uncertain set of circumstances at 40 because it is now or never.


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