Our Simple Approach to Balancing Work and Family Life

As a family we always had a list of things we wanted to enjoy together.

Actually getting out and spending time on these activities was always the challenge.

We finally committed to a specific, realistic goal for balancing work and family life, leading to more time together and a better life balance.

How do you balance work life and family life?

blueberry tree
Out blueberry picking on a beautiful spring day

Our family always had an endless list of “want to do that” items. Unfortunately, it seemed like our “guess what we did” list never grew quite as fast.

Saturday would roll around and by the time we decided what we wanted to do that day it was already noon (or later) and we couldn’t plan anything too involved with half the day already gone. Call it poor planning, lack of motivation, or just plain exhaustion from the day to day. In any case we were missing out on valuable time together and the opportunity to explore and learn things about the world around us. Most importantly, we needed to make sure we all got regular opportunities to take a quick break and disconnect from our work and school routines, and from our TV and phone screens.

So we hatched a plan. Looking back it is so simple, so obvious, it feels silly to even write about it. Our plan allows us to know well in advance that we will be conquering things on our “want to do that” list. Our plan allows us to avoid the overwhelming feeling of having to come up with something on a random morning because we “haven’t done anything in a while”. It allows us to enjoy lazy days with nothing on the agenda guilt free because we know we have other days planned we can look forward to in anticipation. From a financial perspective, our family and entertainment expenses are more predictable and more well thought out as a result.

Two activities per month.

hockey game
Lots of action at the hockey game!

That’s our silly, stupidly simple plan. It’s specific, measurable, attainable and realistic. But it has been such a relief, and we quickly felt like we had better control over our life, and our time together. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s 24 planned outings in a year, plenty to keep us busy without overdoing it.

What about things like visiting family at their home, playing with the neighbor kids, watching a movie at home, etc? It’s important to note these types of things are not activities for the purposes of our plan. Those are all nice things to do and we enjoy them, but they don’t accomplish that break from the routine that is so important.  

That doesn’t mean activities have to be expensive or take you to far away places either. There are many local parks we have talked over and over again about visiting that we can pack a lunch for and spend the day at. Pairing an inexpensive activity with more costly tickets for an event in the same month helps minimize budget surprises that might come up when you are less careful in your planning.

Two activities a month is our very simple approach to making sure our family time is accounted for first. It relieves us of the guilt from days where work has to take a front seat, and ultimately will lead us to living a richer life.

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