4 Tips to Find Your Winter Work-Life Balance
Working parents have a lot to juggle, and the six-month stretch from the start of the New Year through Memorial Day can be especially difficult. While the kids are off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day and spring break, their parents get few, if any, of these days off.
On top of that, it’s flu and cold season. Then, when you factor in an emergency day or two for inclement weather, it can feel less like you’re juggling multiple balls and more like you are just getting pelted by them.
It’s helpful to have a fresh bank of sick and vacation time to draw from, but many jobs offer limited PTO, and it is difficult to exhaust those precious days at the beginning of the year.
So how can you be present in both of your realities during “the dark months” of the year?
Communicate Proactively with your Manager
To give your supervisor some perspective on what you are managing at home, show him or her the number of days that your children have off during this time and how many you do. It can be an eye-opening figure. My spouse’s ratio is pretty typical, and mine was the same before I moved to a more flexible situation: it’s nine days off for the kids and zero for him.
Work/life balance is a concept that is still catching up to workers’ needs. Having your manager’s understanding and support is likely to make things easier on you emotionally and logistically.
While your manager probably can’t extend privileges that are beyond what your colleagues have, talking through possible plans to cover unexpected absences will serve you and your manager well. Plus, your manager may be aware of telecommuting options that you can employ during the winter months or on an emergency basis.
You may also find that your job is too rigid to serve your family’s needs; if that’s the conclusion you reach, Simply Hired is a great tool to target a more flexible job.
As you undoubtedly know, an unexpected malady or school closing can manifest at any point. Always have accessibility on your mind, so that no matter where you are your team can get the materials they need if you are unexpectedly unavailable. Save important documents publically so your team can access them. Be extra diligent when copying team members on correspondences, so they can jump in.
In order for this to go well, be the most detail-oriented version of yourself, always planning for the unexpected.
Amass a Community
Other parents in your neighborhood are in the same boat. So lean on each other. Take turns hosting the kids on days off. Communicate when the snow starts to fly, so that whoever’s work schedule can afford it hosts the impromptu playdate.
Don’t Feel Guilty
I have worked on several teams where I was the only parent in the group. Sometimes I had to ask for extra consideration because of my responsibilities at home. I made this work by pitching in as much as I could under regular circumstances. My hand always went up to volunteer or to support my team.
Just like everything in life, it’s give and take. So be as giving as you can, and don’t waste a second feeling guilty when you need to take. That is what balance is all about.