work-life balance

Work-Life Balance For Parents

Written by Caroline Britton
Work-Life Balance For Parents

By nature I am a real doer. I was one of those people who was always doing, who was busy, busy, busy and my Mum used to say she felt exhausted just watching me. I would wear my busyness as a badge of honour;  juggling two small children, a full on job 4 days a week, numerous social events, part time) studying and launching a business. I would leap about (or sometimes crawl once the kids were in bed with my to do list in my head and feeling like I was never exhausted. Turns out I was.

The irony is looking back I felt like I had balance, at least on paper. I worked remotely and part-time, spent time with the kids, supported my friends and family, exercised and put my kids to bed. What I didn’t realise was that work-life balance is not defined by how much you do in different areas of your life (although I am an absolute advocate for balancing work and play). Balance is about being and doing in equal measures. It is about getting things done but also about being present and maintaining a good head.

work-life balanceIt was then that I stumbled across Ariana Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’ and something in it really resonated with me. The curse that is multi-tasking. She is berated in the book by her Mum who sees her sitting and playing with her children whilst checking her emails. It’s something I identified with. Even when I was sitting with the kids I felt like I had to be getting something done. There was no balance there. It was all goal striving and achievements. Another tick off the to do.

My clients frequently tell me that they feel like they don’t have any work-life balance in their lives, they feel frazzled, anxious and burnt out and they feel guilty. In this day and age we are constantly stimulated by social media, phones, emails, adverts and it is, quite simply, taking its toll.

So how do you get balance with work and family?

  1. Firstly, balance is not a constant state that you arrive at and think ‘ah ha I’ve nailed it!”. It is something that fluctuates. Somedays you will have the balance in favour of work and other days in balance of the family. That’s ok and you should not beat yourself up for it.
  2. Be kind to yourself. If you need to get this up on a post it note…. “I am kind to myself.” Repeat it when you feel guilt, imbalance or wrung out. The best way you can benefit those around you is to put yourself first. Do things that bring you joy, get the balance between what you think you should do and what you want to do.
  3. Be honest. If you are one of those people who often feels restless, has an inability to sit still or constantly feels like they can’t get through everything then you are likely to need to introduce things into your life that allow you to be stiller. Things like breathing, meditation, yin yoga, walking and nature all help
  4. Work out areas that where you want to get balance and then work out what you would be prepared to trade for that. Want to get more time with the children then set aside a set amount of time a day when you focus purely on your kids. No phone and no distractions. Want more time for yourself? Then set time aside to do what you want. Is a walk or coffee with a friend more important than time on that social media page? Write a list of what you can do now to swap 30 minutes of wasted time with something positive and then make it a habit.
  5. Do a life map and list all the areas in your life from work, home, finances, family, relationships to you time. Score each of them out of 10. What are the areas where you can get more balance? Commit to small steps to get you there, starting today.

work-life balance parents

Balance is not easy but by striving to get a bit more of it into your life you will soon reap the rewards with a happier, more fulfilled you. Life really is about the journey and striving for more balance makes the view much better along the way.


Caroline Britton is a business and life coach who works with clients to get the best out of themselves and/or their business. With 14 years of experience working for a global consultancy she now offers 1:1 sessions and runs large workshops in Manchester and London. Caroline is a Mum of two and understands first hand the difficulties in trying to get balance with work and family life!

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