Written by Lisa Johnson
Family Support Services Specialist
October is designated as National Work and Family Month and it is a time when federal agencies, businesses and individuals are focused on encouraging employees to succeed both at work and at home. The month is aimed at reducing work-life conflict by identifying challenges employees face and then encouraging employers to raise the bar to meet those needs.
The thought of exceeding both at home and at work can be very overwhelming. I’m personally still adjusting to the new fall routine both at work and at home. My spouse travels, the kids have new school routines and it’s busier at work than normal. It sometimes feels as if there aren’t enough hours in a day. Everyone around me seems to be going through similar situations with too much on their plate and not enough time to get it all done.
We are all responsible for finding the right balance between work and family. When trying to achieve “Life Balance” with my career, family, health and friends I follow a few simple tips to keep me on track and in the right direction.
1. Plan But Don’t Over Plan
Have your calendar handy to track important appointments and meetings. Our memories aren’t the greatest when our minds are full of brilliant ideas. While we think we can remember that important date, when the boss stops by for an impromptu discussion, the date is long gone from the memory the second they walk away.
Planning is a good thing. It helps us enjoy outings with family and friends and keeps us on track for work. However, I learned there is such a thing as over planning. One year, I committed to too many community holiday events. Those events, in addition to attending work holiday commitments and trying to fit in family visits, about set me over the edge! I have since learned to scale back commitments, combine family visits and enjoy family time together without plans. I notice less stress, more smiles and better overall family bonding. When I return to work on Monday, I’m more refreshed and not exhausted from the non-stop weekends.
2. Ask for Help
If you’re overwhelmed, then you’re not at your best either at work or at home. I call this “When my worlds collide”. There are busy seasons at work and certain times of the year when home life is chaotic. Then, there are always those unexpected family emergencies. When these all happen the same time then “Your world is colliding”. Remember, you are not expected to do everything. If you are not available to help a neighbor with a project, then say no. Your Honey-Do-List is probably long anyway and knocking off a few items will lead to a happier spouse. If there’s no room on your plate at work and other projects will suffer by taking on more, have a conversation with your boss. While it may be hard to do, asking for help and delegating can be an effective and efficient way to accomplish your goals.
3. Enjoy the Ride
Enjoy your life and your many accomplishments. We are often times so focused on the work at hand we don’t look around and enjoy the moment. Many people are so concerned with providing for their family that they’re not home to spend time or attend key activities that will be remembered forever. Take time to answer your kid’s questions and ask what’s going on in their life; before you know it, they’ll be more interested in spending time with friends than their embarrassing parents. So, sit back, take it all in – the good, the bad and the crazy and enjoy the ride.
Fortunately, the Coast Guard has tools to help manage life challenges in the form of Coast Guard Personnel and Work-Life policies and programs. The CG SUPRT Program offers comprehensive services to assist Coast Guard personnel and their families in balancing work and their personal life. Available to all active duty members, members of the selected reserve, civilians, and family members, CG SUPRT provides confidential professional counseling, education, and referral services on numerous topics such as personal financial management, health coaching, education and career development, relationships, and legal matters. To learn more about these programs, visit www.CGSUPRT.com or call 1-855-CG SUPRT (1-855-247-8778). For additional information on Coast Guard Work-Life programs, you may also visit http://www.uscg.mil/worklife for more information.