Tag Archives: work/life balance

How Working Dads Achieve Work-Life Balance

As a father, how do you juggle your responsibilities?

Busy Father Working From Home With SonBalancing your work and home lives can be a challenge. Can you coach your son’s little league game and still nab that promotion? Does taking time off for your daughter’s play make you less likely to get a raise?

Traditionally, moms (even working moms) were expected to handle most of the child-rearing responsibilities. However, times are changing. More fathers are involved in their children’s lives than ever before. The Pew Research Center’s Modern Parenthood Survey revealed that 50% of working fathers found achieving work-family balance to be “very/somewhat difficult.”

How can you, as a dad, achieve work-life balance?

1.       Share the Workload

Working dads frequently have to manage multiple responsibilities: parenting, their job, finance management, future planning, and more. The first step on the way to achieving work-life balance is to share some of these responsibilities. As far as parenting is concerned, it’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and coordinate schedules far in advance. That way at least one of you should be able to attend any school events that might come up.

You can also get in touch with any other potential caregivers, such as parents or other relatives. See if they can take care of the kids once in a while so that you can spend an evening out with your partner or go on a vacation out of town. Parents’ day out programs are also an option.

Finally, if you are able to afford it, you may want to look into hiring a financial planner. Such a person can help cut down on your time spent organizing your finances, freeing up that time for your partner or children. At the very least, an expert’s opinion on your current investment strategies can’t hurt anything.

2.       Embrace the Give and Take

No matter how well you plan, something can still come up that throws all of those plans out the window. Perhaps you promised your wife that you would make little Molly’s ballet recital on Wednesday so she could attend a conference, but the boss needs you to stay late to finish a huge project. You can’t say no because that could mean saying goodbye to any sort of raise or career advancement. Instead, you have to call your wife explaining that you actually won’t be able to make the recital. Your daughter’s feelings might get hurt as well.

Is there anything you can do to avoid this? Probably not. Being a working dad is all about balance. As horrible as it sounds, there are moments where you will have to prioritize work over your child’s event in the short term in order to better provide for them in the future.  Make sure to communicate as much as possible with your spouse and children to ensure that they understand why you have to skip the event.

Hope isn’t lost, however—you just have to accept that work-life balance is all about the give and take. If you stay late one night to complete a career-defining project instead of attending that ballet recital, you’ll need to skip out on a smaller project or networking opportunity in the future. Find an employer that allows you to have flexibility—if you feel like you’re constantly having to choose your career over your kids, you might want to look into a different job.

3.       Unplug at Home

And when you are home? Try to unplug from work as much as possible. Spend time with your kids, kick a soccer ball around, go to the park, or just watch cartoons together. Even if you can’t dedicate your entire weekend or day off to the kids, try to schedule at least one or two fun activities.

You can even declare an hour or two each night as “no-screen” time, where everyone engages in a fun family activity that doesn’t involve phones, computers, or the TV.

4.       Fight for Flexibility

Once you’ve moved up in a company, you may have the ability to negotiate for more flexibility. The worst thing they can say is no—they’re not going to fire you for asking, especially when you’ve made significant contributions to the company.

Such flexibility may come with a reduced raise, but if that’s worth the flexibility to you then you’re golden. If your position allows for it, you could even ask about working from home occasionally.

However, do make sure to gauge the climate at your company first, just as you would before asking for a raise. If layoffs are happening and everybody is running around like their hair is on fire, it’s probably not a good time to ask for more time off.

Hopefully this helped you working dads out in one way or another. Happy Father’s Day!

Have any tough experiences as a working dad to share? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Poll Results: How Do You Cope With Workplace Stress

stress_poll_March2014Toward the end of April we asked Movin’ On Up readers how they coped with workplace stress. Stress can cause a variety of health problems, from slight headaches to major anxiety, so we wanted to see what our readers were doing to get through it.

Results

The results were fairly close across the board. Just under 22% prefer to listen to or play music, 17.5% work through their problems by talking to others, and 14% exercise. Thirteen percent turn to hobbies, while an additional 12% take time to meditate or practice breathing exercises. Seven percent opt for a relaxing massage, and only 4% choose to look at cute animal pics. Just under 10% selected “Other,” with responses ranging from watching Netflix or TV to playing video games or praying.

So how can job seekers use this information? Everyone has their own “thing,” their own way of dealing with stress. That’s the first thing job seekers need to do—figure out what their “thing” is! Look at all of the survey options and figure out what really calms you down. And if that doesn’t work, invent some of your own. Everyone has different levels and types of stress, so the way each person deals with it is going to vary too.

Anything else you want to tell us about how you deal with workplace stress? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Lack of Sleep Killing Your Career

Awake At WorkAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, many workers don’t get proper sleep and feel tired throughout the day. Chronic drowsiness and sleep deprivation cause many people issues at work, and many say they feel their work is “sub-par” because of it.

A 2008 Sleep in America poll discovered that 29 percent of employees polled admitted to falling asleep or becoming “very sleepy” at work during the previous month. An additional 12 percent said sleepiness caused them to be late to work within the last month.

Swing shift workers, those who juggle multiple jobs and people with irregular work hours seem to be the hardest hit by sleep issues. Chronic sleep deprivation is also tied to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.

Chronic Issue
Sleep is often the first thing people give up when faced with heavy workloads, parenting responsibilities, irregular work schedules and time-consuming challenges. The same NSF poll of sleep habits and the workplace found that while workers said they needed an average of seven hours and 18 minutes of sleep per night to be at their best the next workday, they reported an average of six hours and 40 minutes.

Even modest amounts of sleep loss accumulate over time, so a few nights of poor sleep can have a major impact on daily functioning, according to the NSF.

Loss of sleep isn’t just an inconvenience either. In high-risk fields such as medicine, the NSF discovered that when on-call residents work overnight, they have “twice as many attention failures, commit 36 percent more serious medical errors and report 300 percent more medical errors that lead to death than those who work a 16-hour shift.”

Tell-tale Signs That Lack of Sleep Is Affecting Your Career
Sleep deprivation can lead to “tremendous emotional problems,” according to Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Signs that employees are suffering from sleep problems include increased hunger, weight gain, memory problems, difficulty in making decisions, reduced motor skills, emotional fluctuations, poor vision and frequent illness.

These symptoms can lead to consequences that have a major impact on your career.

Quick Tips to Get More Sleep

Employees who have these symptoms or think that lack of sleep is hurting their performance can take steps to reverse the trend.

  • Get evaluated by a physician to identify or rule out a treatable medical condition.
  • Take advantage of sleep diaries and other resources from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
  • Ask a physician to refer you to a sleep specialist or center.
  • Evaluate your career and priorities. Ask to reduce irregular hours or consider a job that does not require shift work.
  • Have an honest conversation with a supervisor about how lack of sleep is affecting your performance and try to find a mutually-beneficial solution.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on days off.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Limit stress by engaging in relaxing activities before bed, like meditation, reading or taking hot baths.

Although everyone has the occasional sleepless night, chronic sleep problems should be taken seriously before they negatively impact both you and your career.

Top Struggles Working Moms Face

Balancing kids and co-workers on a crazy schedule

Beautiful Adult Business and DaughterRegardless of whether you’re in the office or at home, being a mom is tough. Stay-at-home moms have to deal with subordinates that are more likely to fling food on the ground than turn in a project on time. And at least in the office, Shelly from IT won’t throw a temper tantrum or draw on the walls. Hopefully. She’s not two, right?

Working moms, on the other hand, face an entirely different, yet no less difficult set of problems. Does that new job come with a nice daycare nearby? What do you do when the daycare calls saying little Timmy bit his best friend when you have a conference call in five minutes? Do you present at the national conference or go to Lisa’s school play? It’s her debut as Tree Number Two, after all.

The life of a working mom is a constant balancing act full of challenges. We want to (once again) recognize those challenges in celebration of Mother’s Day.

1. Flexibility Issues

A working mom has two full-time jobs constantly competing for her attention. She has to balance parent meetings, child performances, school awards, and other activities with office deadlines, conferences, and company trips. And often Dad’s doing another balancing act with his own complicated schedule.

How does a working mom manage the her work and life? Unfortunately, most of it comes down to situations she can’t control—the company culture and her boss’ managerial style. All she can do is communicate, let her boss know the situation, and convey how important the event is to her kids. But even with constant communication, odds are she will not be able to make every single event.

So what can a mom do to avoid becoming overwhelmed? She can get the school calendar for the year and combine it with her work schedule. That way, parent-teacher conferences and school plays won’t appear without warning. She could even ask if certain parent-teacher meetings could take place over the phone. Communication with any other caregivers is important—coordinating schedules is a colossal effort, but worth it if one of them can make it to the event in the end.

2. Guilt

Any given workday is full of decisions that have to be made between children and career. Choosing one over the other can make working moms feel guilty. Congrats for clinching that promotion, but now you have to explain to your son why you have to go on a business trip rather than attend his little league game. Not to mention how difficult it is to arrange childcare for business travel.

Missing a week of work for a sick kid is another source of guilt. A working mom knows that she has to be home to take care of her child, but somebody else at the office has to pick up the slack while she’s gone.

3. Social Pressure

In the mid-1900s, raising a family and taking care of the home were typically seen as a mother’s career path. A married woman was expected to stay at home. Although times have changed, working moms still receive occasional flak for not continuing this tradition.  Other moms at the elementary school might gossip about her store-bought cake, or criticize her for not showing up to the monthly PTA meeting.

Judgement can also come from co-workers, particularly those who don’t have any children of their own. Some (although by no means all) just don’t understand what it takes to nurture both a kid and a career. When they see moms taking “too much” time off to care for their kids, it looks like an abuse of vacation time. When in reality it’s anything but a “vacation.” It’s either paid leave, sick leave, or it’s unpaid—it’s not a favor or perk.

4. Job Search Gets Complicated

Being a mom makes the job search even more complex. Finding the time to look for a job is a chore in and of itself. Interviews are even worse. If it’s an in-person interview or a longer phone interview childcare has to be arranged. That could mean paying for a chance at a job.

When it actually comes down to accepting a position, a mom has to think about not only location and salary, but also hours, benefits, whether or not there is a good daycare nearby, any childcare incentives, the company culture, maternity leave, and any policies concerning flexibility. If there’s a job available at her dream company but the pay doesn’t outweigh the costs of childcare, she may have to find something else.

5. Networking is Difficult

During the day, she’s working at the office. After work, she cares for the kids. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for a personal life, much less any sort of networking. Building connections is nearly impossible when you don’t have the time to commit to them. A mom can’t really make the weekly happy hour because it means sacrificing time from her family. If her boss stops by to socialize right before 5 o’clock, a working mom can’t sit to chat. If a mom is late to pick up the kids, the daycare charges overtime.

Why Do They Love It?

It depends on the mom.  Some have been working their whole adult lives—why should they stop now? Working gives them a sense of fulfillment. Many of them invested money in a college, post-secondary, or other education, and they want to keep using it.

Others would like to stay at home, but there just isn’t enough room in the budget. So they work, sometimes at multiple jobs, to put food on the table. They may not be with their kids in every moment, but their kids are why they work.

Still others just can’t see themselves as a stay-at-home mom. They love their kids, and will work to provide for them, but they desire to achieve goals and learn at the same time. They want to work their way up the corporate ladder so that they can provide a variety of opportunities for their children.

But every mom is different, with her own reasons for working. It would take thousands of blogs to cover every working mom’s unique situation. So hopefully this salute is enough. Thanks working moms, for doing all that you do!

Are you a working mom? Why do you love it? Let us know in the comments below!

Whitepaper: Don’t Fall Off The Tightrope of Work/Life Balance

Increase your Work/Life BalanceOverworked? Finding time for family and personal activities while meeting the increasing demands of your job can feel like walking a tightrope in the circus we call life.

Check out this informational whitepaper to learn about the risks of burnout and stress, and how you can schedule time to focus on your personal interests without sacrificing your career goals.

Walking Along the Tightrope of Work/Life Balance

With today’s workplace constantly changing and workload quickly growing, finding the right balance between job duties and free time is more important than ever. That balance can not only bring peace between your two responsibilities, but also provide you with peace of mind.

7 Perks to Embracing a Positive Attitude

Perkstopositivity Enjoy your job, feel healthier, and improve your relationships. These goals aren’t out of reach. In fact, the power to achieve each one lies with you.

Your outlook on life impacts the way you see the world and how the world sees you. Revamp your attitude, and reap the rewards of greater personal and professional satisfaction.

Come on, get happy.
When you focus on what’s good in your life – instead of what’s missing – you’re more thankful and fulfilled. Need help looking on the bright side? Try spending more time with positive people, listening to upbeat music, and reading motivational books. Whenever it’s up to you, avoid situations and individuals who bring you down. Even small tweaks to your routine can lift your spirits. 

Beat stress.
When you commit to a positive outlook, the worries of the day don’t seem nearly as overwhelming. Focusing on the silver lining keeps daily nuisances like traffic jams and computer problems from ruining your day. If you start feeling frustrated, take a quick time out to close your eyes, count to 10, and take a few deep breaths.

Improve your health.
Stress wreaks havoc on your physical and mental well-being. A sunny disposition may not be the cure-all for every ailment, but studies consistently show that a positive attitude promotes better health. If you’re having a difficult time managing your stress, look for ways to get relief. Join a gym, take up a relaxing hobby, or find someone you can talk to about your tension. Make reducing stress and positive thinking a priority in your life, and you’ll see results.

Strengthen relationships.
Upbeat people are easier to get along with and more fun to be around. Strive to make your co-workers’ day brighter and your boss’ job easier. As an added bonus, your efforts will pay off with a more enjoyable workplace filled with happier colleagues. 

Boost your career.
As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” Another way to say it is: positive people are more likely to get ahead in life. When you’re excited about showing up for work each day, you’ll inspire co-workers and impress your supervisor. Even if it feels insincere at first, resolve to smile, quit grumbling, and encourage others. Soon, you’ll find cheerfulness comes more naturally.

Increase your job satisfaction.
Every job has rough patches. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like, concentrate on what you do enjoy. You may not have the job you’ve always dreamed of, but with a change of perspective, you may find that your current position has a lot to offer. A brighter outlook will allow you to make the most of any situation and improve your overall contentment.

Experience a greater work-life balance.
When you’re constantly complaining about work, it detracts from your personal life. Venting every now and then is okay – just don’t make a habit of it. Try to keep your shop talk limited to topics such as your future goals, interesting projects, or light-hearted events of the day. 

While you can’t control everything in life, your outlook is one thing you do have power over. When you commit to seeing the glass half full, the world suddenly seems brighter. Not only will you experience less, stress and better health, you’ll also benefit from improved relationships and greater career satisfaction.

Are You Jealous of Your Friend’s Job?

So, you think every one of your friends has an exciting job except for you. Feelings of envy, jealousy, or maybe even resentment can cloud your mind and cause you to doubt your feelings about your own job. Maybe it’s their company credit card that pays for all those so-called “networking dinners,” business trips to exotic places like Europe, the Bahamas, or New York City – hey, that’s exotic for some people – or invitations to all the upscale parties with very important people in the industry. While at your typical 8-5 job, the biggest perk is getting a pat on the back for a job well done.

If you sit around wondering how you can find a glamorous job, you may start to dwell on all the negative aspects of your job and completely overlook why you got into your profession in the first place. You begin to forget about the positive attributes your employer or position offers, which can take a toll on your work, attitude, and relationships. There is a fine line between admiration and jealousy, so before you become too envious of a friend’s job, keep the following in mind.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You’ve heard this expression a time or two, and it couldn’t be more true in this scenario. A job that might have the perks of travel, flashy dinners, or high profile parties could also correlate into long hours at the office, very few weekends off, and hardly any time for friends and family. People often look at other jobs and think about how much better they sound than their own jobs, but the truth is every job has its pros and cons.

Find the good in your job. Instead of thinking about all the negative aspects of your job, focus on what drew you to your job in the first place. Think about your relationships with co-workers, paid vacation time, or the time you’re able to spend away from work to be with your friends or family. Sometimes, the perks of a so-called glamorous job don’t outweigh the benefits of a traditional job.

So many of us focus on the things that we don’t have that we forget to be thankful for the things we do have. So, the next time you start feeling jealous of your friends’ jobs, stop comparing their careers with your own because they probably have things they dislike about their job as well.