5 Practical Ways We Balance Family Time with Two Full-Time Jobs
I have worked full-time since my son was 5 weeks old (a story for another post), and for most of his life I’ve been one of the 6% of mothers who works more than 50 hours a week. Plus, I often travel for work. So how do I make time for my family? Primarily by adjusting our schedules to fit together.
We Put Our Toddler on a Non-Traditional Schedule
Before our son was born, my husband would tell you he didn’t think we’d be a “schedule” family - he thought we’d go with the flow, be flexible and laid back parents. Our son showed us otherwise. Within the first week of bringing him home, we were clinging to our schedule for survival. Nap times and bed times gave structure to our days and our son responded so well to the structure that we went from “laid back” to “every 5 minutes matters” overnight. As he got older, we learned that while basic structure is important for him, he was also a bit more flexible than we thought. That, plus us being less exhausted, meant flexing nap by an hour in the afternoon or pushing bedtime back. What we learned was that he’d sleep a full 12 hours at night from whenever we put him to bed, so we started pushing bedtime back a bit to have more time with him after work at night. As a result, he sleeps in, allowing us to get ready for work, walk the dog, clean, etc…before he gets up, simplifying what could be a hectic time of day. In the evenings, we have enough time for a trip to the playground, playing in the backyard, dance parties in the playroom and dinner before bed, allowing us to feel like we get to do something as a family each day. Not all kids are able to flex in this way, but we’ve found a “late” bedtime of 8:30, which puts our son waking up between 8:15 and 9am depending on his activities for the day, works for us.
I Flex My Schedule At Least A Few Days A Week
Some days, I don’t have control over my schedule - I’m on a plane, there’s dinner with a partner or colleague, or my day is jam packed with meetings from 9-5, which means I’m away from home for a traditional 8-6 or later with my commute and other demands on my time. It’s impossible to have balance each and every day. There are some days when it’s all work. So each week I look at my schedule, and if there’s a day or two that are looking like they are going to be “all work”, I make sure to flex my schedule on other days. That could mean going to work a few hours early (after all, my son is sleeping), and leaving early to get some time in with my son or things that need my attention at home in the late afternoon. I also try to work from home one day a week - cutting out the commute and being home means I can have breakfast and often lunch with my son and when meetings are done, walk right out of my office and into the fun.
My Husband Shares the Load
My husband has a big job too - and his schedule is similarly packed and unpredictable. One of the major challenges of being a working mom is managing the mental load of running all of the logistics even if you have help getting individual tasks done. I certainly still do more than my fair share of this, but my husband has whole categories of things he is responsible for. One of them is dinner. He is responsible more than 80% of the time for our dinner. He plans it, he cooks it, he even helps clean up sometimes. He is also responsible for a lot of the more traditional husband tasks like the yard, and taking out the trash. We alternate days walking the dog and letting her out in the morning. He’s an equal parent to me - he can feed our son, give him medicine, put him to bed, get him dressed without any guidance. This is huge.
We Set Our Own Priorities
During the week, we’ve decided the priority is that my son has time each day with a parent, but that we don’t need to all be together every night. That’s what weekends are for. This gives us the ability to take turns working and parenting, creating more flexibility for both of us. So on the days that I’m traveling, working late or have a dinner, he’s flexing to be home at a reasonable hour - usually by 6, allowing him several hours with our son to go to the park, have dinner and play before bedtime. And on days when I’m flexing to work from home or come home early, he spends more time at the office, schedules dinner with clients or friends. This allows us to
We Outsource What We Can
We have a live-in au pair which makes our flexible schedule possible - we don’t need to get our son up and out of the house every day, which cuts a lot of time and hectic energy out of our day each day. She also takes care of things like deliveries, letting in people to fix the house or clean, and grocery shopping. We do have a house cleaner twice a month to do our big cleans. All of this means the time we do have out of the office can be spent on “fun”. We are definitely operating in a privileged environment, being able to afford great help around the house and with our son, but we’ve also prioritized things that give us time back over other ways we could spend our money.
How do you made more time to spend with your kids with a full-time job?