Managing family and work obligations is not easy, and we learn it as early as we enter the workforce. The older we are, the more responsibilities we seem to have, especially once we decide on having a family. Some of us seem to figure it all out; they give it their all to become successful at work, or perhaps devote their efforts to become the best parent out there. What about these individuals who treasure both of these areas and wish to remain balanced?
Firstly, let us discuss how much time one spends between these two roles. Are you likely to finish your work on time and set your boundaries, where you will not think nor engage in work-related activities outside of your working hours? This attitude and balance between these two roles might be very effective in managing stress and feeling satisfied with your life, as you do not experience conflict in form of ‘’am I being a better employee or parent and partner’’. Secondly, it is important to distinguish how we balance time investment between work- and family-related activities. Are you likely to work 12 or more hours a day and barely see your loved ones? Chances are, your family role might suffer because of. However, if you do not consider your family role as important, the effect is not so strong in your case. Nonetheless, the study suggest that investing more time on family rather than on work makes us more satisfied with our life quality. Thirdly, we can distinguish the magnitude of involvement between these roles. If you are giving it your all while with your family, but tend to slack off and disregard your work, it can be easy to see you are not satisfied with what you do for living. This imbalance might make you unhappy, but also help you reflect on what is important in your life and how do you see yourself in these two areas in the future.
According to the study, investing the above mentioned factors in both of these areas is beneficial, but focusing more on the family role might make you happier. It can be due to the fact that the participants in the study were aware they prioritized their family over work and did not bring any work-related troubles into their private lives. This distinction between different responsibilities and knowing when it is time to focus on which role might be the key to balancing our lives. Further, people who balanced both of these roles were also reporting better life quality than individuals who devoted more focus to work instead of family; they also could deal with various stressors and experienced less depressive symptoms. They developed a routine and did not allow one-time occasions to affect their roles, which helped them in meeting long-term goals. It seems that excessive work and its stressors might be too much to handle and to manage troubles that might be encountered in the family. Perhaps it is fair to say we all have limited capacity when it comes to dealing with stress and how patient we are. If our limits are already reached while still at work, not much might be left when we are back home and see a crying baby. Knowing this, we might take an active approach when it comes to how we deal with the stressors and whether what we do for living truly does not affect more than we would like to admit. Lastly, the authors of the study propose that mindfulness might help us achieve the balance, where we are attentive and express care towards different life roles. Being alert and aware of how we live our lives might help us define ourselves and accept the way things are.
After all, no one is perfect and doing our best is more than enough to show that we care and strive to grow as individuals, both while at work and with family.
Bibliography: Greenhaus, Jeffrey H., Collins, Karen M., & Shaw, Jason D. (2003). The Relation between Work-Family Balance and Quality of Life. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63(3), 510-31.
Gosia Cybulska is a Clinical Psychology Master student at Leiden University and an International Intern at Willingness. Besides her extensive love for Psychology manifested by volunteering at various facilities as well as pursuing a second degree, she also strives to learn more about what makes cats such adorable creatures.