How to Balance the Return to Work with Family Life
The pandemic appears to winding down which means for most families, the routine that has been their ‘new normal’ over the last 18 months or so is about to change. It’s been so long since we’ve lived without social distancing and government restrictions, most of us can barely remember exactly how life was before the pandemic. Lots of people are facing anxiety about the return to life as it was pre-pandemic, especially families who will be thinking about how they used to juggle the school run, working, household chores and errands.
If you’re worried about returning to work, here are some tips that could help ease you into it and assist you in getting back into the rhythm of things.
- Request flexible hours
For many families, the biggest and most daunting change is the prospect of having to go from working at home to working in a professional workplace once again. There are many reasons for this apprehension, namely because of time. When working from home, employees don’t need to commute and have more time to spend and home. Rushed mornings are a little bit easier when you don’t need to battle traffic and race against the clock to get everyone – including yourself – where they need to be and when.
If the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that employers can be more flexible. The majority of white-collar jobs can be done from home, at least for some of the time. Many employers will be forthcoming on the return to work, with lots providing their employees with the option to work part time at home and part time in the office. If your employer hasn’t suggested this to you, ask them, particularly if you have young children or commitments that mean you need to do the school run.
- Use your annual leave
Just because you live in the same house as your family, it doesn’t mean that you spend a lot of time with them. School and work days can be long, and days off are limited with regards to quality time together. In reality, you only have the weekends to spend with each other, and that’s only if you work standard Monday-Friday 9-5 hours, which many people don’t.
To this end, make sure you take your annual leave; many people do not and their family life suffers as a result. In fact, over half of all Americans don’t use up their full vacation entitlement, citing reasons such as having too much to do to even think about taking a day off. Some people have the option of carrying their vacation time over, whilst others lose it if they don’t use it.
Regardless of how much work you have to do, you are legally entitled to paid vacation time and should take it. If there’s too much to do, it’s an indication that another pair of hands is needed, and this is not your responsibility. Book a summer vacation and spend time with your family to recharge and balance out your return to work with your home life.
- Don’t work outside of working hours
Whilst working from home, the lines between working hours and home hours likely got blurred for you. It became second nature to work a bit longer in the evenings, to check your emails after tucking the children in bed and to take calls late into the night.
To strike a good work balance with your home life, make sure you leave your work at the office. Don’t bring anything home. You family will likely need some time to adjust to the new routine and some members might even have separation anxiety, so make sure you’re 100% present and there for them. Work isn’t the be all and end all of life, and hopefully this pandemic has shown that time is precious.
Striking the right balance between the return to work and family life will inevitably take time and a period of adjustment, just make sure you’re patient and try and take heed of these three tips to make things a bit easier.