Balancing Work and Family Life

By Richard Swenson
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Businessman using laptop while holding infant so on his shoulder in his home office

Know how to switch gears between your job and home life.

Futurists of the 1960s predicted that by the 21st century we’d have one wage earner per family working only 20 hours a week. Modern reality, however, makes this rosy prediction seem almost laughable. Today, we see many people, especially those in high-paid professional jobs, working 50 hours or more each week, leaving precious little time for their families.

Modern technology has enabled this nonstop work habit. With the advent of smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet, we have the capacity to perform work anywhere, anytime — evenings, nights, weekends, in the car and in coffee shops. In a recent survey, 59 percent of e-mail users said they even check their digital mail while in the bathroom. Whatever happened to unstructured leisure time? Families need shared life experiences — getting to know each other in the context of laughter, food, campfires, stories and pillow fights.

Work itself is not the culprit, of course. When in balance with the rest of life, work is a tremendous blessing. It rightfully should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the family, as both are allies in healthy living. Here are a few ideas to help you establish an appropriate work/family balance.

Watch the speed limit

The workplace values speed because speed increases productivity. The home, however, does not share this affection. Families don’t thrive on speed and productivity, but rather, on love and communication.

It’s important to know how to switch gears between the pace of work and home. That’s what one London “speedaholic” parent learned. At first, he was excited to discover the concept of one-minute bedtime stories. “My first reaction was, Yes! one-minute bedtime stories,” he said. “My next thought was, Whoa, has it really come to this? ” There is a place for speed, but we should always remember that Jesus was never in a hurry — especially with children. So leave the speedy mind-set at work and take time to relax at home with your family.

Calculate the cost

“Opportunity cost” is the principle that whenever we spend time, money or energy on something, we lose the opportunity to spend that same time, money or energy on anything else. And it is lost forever.

A sustainable work/family balance suggests that we bias our opportunity costs in favor of the priorities that matter most, especially our families. A Seattle man was offered an international VP position in his financial services firm. As a part of the job, he’d be required to answer his BlackBerry 24/7, 365 days a year. As he considered the honor of the promotion, he also thought about his family. Finally, with his children’s violins playing in the background, he turned the job down. His balance would have been destroyed, and his time with the family would have suffered. The opportunity cost was just too high. When you make a decision at work, keep in mind the effect it will have on your home life.

Cherish the home

We all wish to have integrity in the workplace, and in an economic downturn our places of employment need invested workers. But our families are far too important — and fragile — to live on a diet of leftovers. If we are giving the least time to those we value most, perhaps this is a wake-up call to slow down, to cultivate biblical contentment and to spend more time at home. It is important to remember, “Work will not love you back.” Your co-workers won’t be at your bedside when you pass, but your children just might.

Dr. Richard A. Swenson is a futurist, physician-researcher and best-selling author of In Search of Balance.

Copyright © 2010 Dr. Richard A. Swenson. Used with permission.  


Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

How useful was this article?

Click or Tap on a star to rate it!

Average Rating: 0 / 5

We are sorry that this was not useful for you!

Help us to improve.

Tell us how we can improve this article.

About the Author

You May Also Like