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Whether you are working from home or not, balancing life as a single parent can be challenging. You must do everything – work, care for and nurture your children, maintain the house, do the shopping. Then there’s your social life and the things you need to do for yourself?
This article will give you actionable tips for how to establish and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
This is first for a reason. Without firm work hours, work can creep into all hours of the day – and night! Be sure your work colleagues all know what hours they can reach you and what hours you are working.
At home, keep a written family schedule in a place that is easily accessible and seen. Many families use a chalkboard or whiteboard showing the current day, week, or month. Block off your work hours. Then log the rest of your family’s activities on that schedule. Using a different color for each child and for your other obligations or activities helps.
Stick to your schedule. This is so your children, (if they are old enough to read and comprehend), can help keep their part of the schedule. It will also help them to respect your work hours.
Whether you occasionally work from home or always work from home, it is essential to establish a work area if you can. Separate from the social gathering areas and sleeping areas in your home.
Why? Having an established workplace will help you get in the right frame of mind and help your productivity. Being in that space will also signal to your children that you are working and can only be disturbed for the reasons agreed in advance.
A third benefit of having an established workplace in your home, and perhaps the most important to your family. When work is over, you can leave that space and fully engage with your family.
The ideal workspace will be comfortable for you, well-lit, and include everything you need to work. Ideally, your workspace will be separate from your living and sleeping spaces and can be closed off when work is done. Even if your workspace is a corner of the living room, figure out some way to block it off when work is done. A decorative screen or curtain can do this, or even a large plant.
Things come up, and everyone’s schedule can change on a dime. The way to ensure you can meet the challenge of changes in the plan is to have back-ups ready.
For example, if your ex is scheduled to take the children for days when you have other plans make sure you have a back-up sitter or family member to help with the kids, so you are all set.
Have more than one back-up. This is so that you can be reasonably sure someone will be available to help you should your schedule change unexpectedly. Use your back-ups, especially if you’ve scheduled something for yourself, such as social time or your workout. If you do not take the time to care for yourself, you will be in no shape to care for your children.
Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant working and living in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with and writes on behalf of Lee A. Schwartz, a busy Philadelphia divorce lawyer.