I live in one of the craziest and busiest cities in Ghana which is Accra and also happens to be the capital of the country. Compare it to London in terms of business, traffic, job opportunities and a greater number of the working class. One leaves home early morning and gets home so late and its even more terrible for the kids as some hardly see their parents. In defence of parents, there is a proverb in our local language that says “if the bird doesn’t fly, it stays home hungry”. Parents need to work in order to afford bills, provide for the needs of their children and generally improve their quality of life.
Striking a healthy balance between work and family is one of the dilemmas a career person faces in this time of the world. The world is moving faster with technology at the centre of it all, there is fierce competition among businesses which generates extra pressure for the career person. Employers are always demanding results and it is either you deliver as an employee or you get replaced. This leads to working late, getting home late, working on weekends and sometimes carrying assignments home to complete.
Then there is the family demands if you are a family man or a career woman. You have a home to take care of-offer emotional support to your spouse, secure the health needs of the family, cook for the family, sexual satisfaction, build a connection with your kids, maintain the house through cleaning activities and sometimes lending support to the extended family. These tasks are not easy at all to handle and unfortunately some or most of them are sacrificed to cope with the pressure at work.
I saw a Facebook post recently which I found so interesting and also got me thinking. The post read “I tip my hat off to those couples who wake up early and get to work, drive through the crazy traffic on the streets of Accra to get home late and still manage to have sex”. You close from work exhausted and there is huge traffic to negotiate home amid all the disappointments and frustrations you go through. The sex is likely to suck, that emotional connection with your spouse is definitely going to suffer and these things can have serious implications on your marriage.
Unfaithfulness in marriages have partly resulted from this tussle between work and family, kids going astray and having poor relationships with their parents have emanated from these issues, breakdown in communication between married couples are some of the problems associated with unhealthy balance between work and family. Furthermore, chronic diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol) have also risen among the working class since people have less rest, no time to exercise, more problems in their relationships or marriages, enjoy far less quality time with family where they could dine, interact, connect, smile and also release stress which is good for their health and wellbeing.
As a health professional, I have witnessed shocking deaths of young, energetic and working people with these chronic diseases, young persons thrown in dangerous episodes of cardiovascular shock and others who unfortunately suffer stroke. The lifestyle of these people certainly plays a role in this regard but also supports the fact that the balance between work life and family life cannot be overlooked. This then emphasizes the need to find a healthy balance between your work and your family.
At this point, we will look to figure out how to address this balance between work and family to enjoy healthy and happy relationships both at work and home. Below are practical and proven strategies to adopt to get the balance right between work and family.
1. PLAN YOUR WORK WELL
Napoleon Hill has this impressive quote about planning which is “plan your work and work your plan”. Planning your work well certainly benefits you as an individual and the organization you work for. Before you start your day, lay down the assignments you need to complete with time schedules to help you finish on time and be productive for your company. I understand that occasionally things are out of your control but many a times, we fail to plan how to carry out the tasks assigned to us at work and we end up finishing late or sometimes carrying it home. This act deprives our family the commitment, care, support and attention they seek from us. We must know that we owe it to our spouses and kids to be there for them especially when they need us the most. So the next time you are at work wasting time on something unproductive at the expense of a job being assigned to you, know that you are not only costing your company but also denying the important people in your life the required time, love and attention.
2. DESIST FROM TAKING WORK HOME
Some of us are workaholics to the extent that after doing so much in the day at work, we still carry assignments home to perform. I am not saying don’t be hardworking for your company but realize that you have a family to attend to their needs and it is this family who will be there for you in times of trouble and not your boss or your work. If possible switch off work phones or ignore phone calls from work sometimes to spend quality time with your family. Family is important and can never be replaced with work so devote your time to your family when you are home for them to enjoy and appreciate your time with them.
3. TAKE LEAVE DAYS WHEN YOU HAVE THE CHANCE
It is baffling sometimes when you speak with people about work and they tell you for the past five years I haven’t taken a leave. Taking a leave in itself is good for you as an individual since you get to rest, recuperate, recharge your batteries and come back stronger to operate at an optimum level for your organization. Taking a leave enables you to spend much time with your family, connect or bond with your kids and rekindle some amazing memories you had with your spouse. You need to ensure that you dissociate yourself from all work related activities and focus on your family at that particular period since they deserve all your time and attention.
4. TRAVEL SOMETIMES
Traveling brings amazing memories so do your family that honour to travel with them when you get the opportunity. When opportunities like holidays, leave, long weekends present themselves, take full advantage and travel with your family to do something adventurous, have fun, bond or connect as a family. It doesn’t have to be that expensive- a short trip to that park you’ve been wanting to visit, a weekend getaway to that favorite spa or even a trip to your extended family will spice things up and improve the mood at home.
On a final note, we all live in such a demanding world these days where everyone is trying to survive but in pursuit of that survival, happiness, comfort, luxury we shouldn’t forget that family is key and that these important people in our lives deserve our love, attention, commitment and the amazing things in this world.