School is back in session after a long summer, ushering in a major change in family routines across the country. For busy professionals, this usually means multiple distractions, from dealing with homework issues to working around sports practice schedules and school events.
Whether you work at home or commute to an office every day, having kids in school is a constant juggling act. The business world doesn’t rearrange itself around elementary school schedules, so meetings will go on as normal and clients will continue to call throughout the workday. If you’re grappling with balancing work and your children’s school activities, here are a few tips that can help.
Set a schedule.
If you’re in charge of your schedule, make it work around your children’s activities. This may mean putting in extra hours once your kids are in bed so that you can help with homework after school. You could also get up early and put in an extra hour or so before it’s time to get everyone ready for school. Make the most of the hours each day your children are in school or engaging in extracurricular activities, by squeezing in meetings and working on your mobile device while waiting for your designated pickup time.
However, you shouldn’t sacrifice sleep to make up those extra hours. Lack of sleep can increase stress levels, affect your alertness, memory consolidation, and physical health. You’ll be far more productive throughout the day if you get at least seven hours of sleep each night. The good news is, your children need even more, giving you extra time to get work in without sacrificing the sleep you need.
Adjust work hours.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a flexible work environment, you may be able to shift your schedule to accommodate the new demands placed on your family. If you can swing working from home, you may find it beneficial to be there when your kids arrive home each day. However, for many professionals, this means too many distractions. Instead, you could shift your schedule so that you go in earlier and leave earlier or work longer hours so that you can take one day a week off.
If you feel as though you aren’t spending enough time with your children, consider taking your lunch hour to spend time with them. Many elementary schools allow parents to occasionally join their children and their friends for lunch. This is a great way to get those extra hours in during the school year when a few hours in the evening aren’t enough.
Help is all around you, especially if you have disposable income to pay for it. Chauffeur services across the country now offer to shuttle children to and from school, sporting events, other children’s houses, and more. Think of it as an Uber for kids. You could also hire a nanny or after-school babysitter to help with homework and keep an eye on things while you’re working. Some schools offer after care, which gives children a chance to interact with other kids in a learning environment.
Childcare isn’t the only way you can enlist help to take some of the load off. You can free up valuable time by outsourcing everything from grocery shopping to dry-cleaning pickup. Sites like TaskRabbit now famously handle almost any task you can imagine. This will let you pay other people to handle time-consuming tasks and use that time for helping with homework or doing something fun as a family.
Balancing a family with a thriving career can be extremely challenging. Fortunately, today’s flexible work style as well as technology allows professionals to find a work-life balance that can reduce stress and strengthen your family.