9 Things Professional Moms and Dads are Doing for Happy Work-Life Balance

 A new model of family is emerging, a model of inclusion with less emphasis on roles, and more placed on partnerships and collaboration.  One of the reasons this shift is taking place is the influence of women in business.

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Imagine a world where you run your company half the time from the comfort of your home office so that you can keep working on a fun project with your kids.  Imagine your partner’s schedule alternates and overlaps with yours, so that you all get regular quality time together.  Imagine you feel like you are on top of it, like your business gets the best of you and your family also gets the best of you.

Sound impossible?  According to the research, the workplace is shifting with the broader understanding that flexible company policies around time management and high performance go hand-in-hand1.  A sea of change is taking place in society.  The work we do, the hours we work, our location, and our company structure are all reorganizing with the new understanding that healthy, engaged employees build the best and the brightest companies.

We took a look at some of the social science that explores what families are doing to build and maintain work-life balance.  These common themes emerged at both home and the office among happy double-earner families.

  1. Apply all your negotiation and diplomacy skills with your family.  Part of daily life for managers, CEOs, and execs is navigating interpersonal dynamics effectively.  All those strategies like keeping your voice level, using “I” statements, and taking a cooling off period are applicable to your marriage and children.
  2. Don’t vent; just breathe.  When we are stressed out or frustrated, it’s the easiest thing in the world to come home and want to dump it onto someone else.  It’s human nature, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.  Make it a ritual as you drive home, or pull yourself aside for just three minutes, to take some slow breaths, leave work behind, and be present for your family.
  3. Listen actively.  Set down devices.  Make eye contact.  Talk to each other.
  4. Keep a family calendar and have brief, regular check-ins. If everyone is old enough to have a device, it’s easy to sync your calendars, but it is still a good idea to a have a highly visible white board up in a common space.
  5. Everyone pitches in.  Researchers have found that a key component to healthy dual-income marriages is fair allocation of the household chores2.  This specifically means men need to take an active role with things like dishes, laundry, shopping, and managing subcontractors like the cleaning service and the handyman.  And even young kids are tasked with age-appropriate chores.
  6. Say ‘Thank You.’  In studies that explored why women make good managers, employees often reported that women show their appreciation more often than men3.  Remembering to thank every member of your team is just as important at home as at work.
  7. Flexible work schedules.  As the boss, you can set up your schedule to maximize productivity.  Often successful working couples both have a “flex” day, so they can schedule in things that come up or make time for a spontaneous activity with the kids.  Or maybe they go on a lunch date.
  8. Family-friendly work culture.  Workingparents cited company attitudes toward family as a major contributor to their success.  Informal support was particularly helpful to men, while formal policies helped women.  Having an understanding supervisor was linked to that employee’s overall work satisfaction2.  So part of running a successful business is trusting your team.
  9. Don’t stop Date Night.  Regularly get non-refundable tickets to something.  Go wine tasting or rock climbing or bowling.  As unfun as it sounds, schedule in fun.  Don’t talk about kids or work.  Maybe even sit in silence and watch a sunset.

This is how we do our part in refashioning the work-life model to better meet families’ needs.  We contribute by seeing the big picture in our projects, by modeling the give-and-take of effective collaboration, and by instituting policies that nurture employees and business.  We do this by taking care of our partners and by relishing every moment we have with our children.

Research:

  1. http://hrweb.mit.edu/system/files/all/worklife/flexible_work_arrangements.pdf
  2. http://www.workandfamily.chhs.colostate.edu/articles/files/Practices%20of%20Duel%20Earner%20Couples%20Balancing%20Work%20and%20Family,%20’05.PDF
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-women-are-better-managers-than-men-2015-4