Aug 01, 2023

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Parent this School Year

How to achieve work-life balance as a parent

While temperatures may be soaring outside, the sight of school supplies lining store shelves and class schedules hitting inboxes remind parents that back-to-school is just around the corner. For some parents, the school year may be a reprieve from balancing kids on summer vacation with their work duties. However, for many parents, the transition to back-to-school can be a daunting test of how to achieve work-life balance not only for themselves, but for their children and partner as well.

A 2019 survey revealed that 57% of parents of school-age children find the back-to-school season the most stressful part of the year. Between finalizing schedules, extracurriculars, and helping with homework, parents have their hands full getting into a new routine for the school year. This stress can be especially difficult for working parents, with their job responsibilities bleeding into their parenting duties. Approximately 66% of working parents in the U.S. suffer from “parental burnout,” with stress from their careers being the largest contributing factor.

Being a working parent in the midst of the school year can feel a bit like a juggling act on a tightrope. However, with a little bit of planning, you can make the back-to-school season smoother and achieve work-life balance for the whole family. Here are our top three tips to keep you and your kids on track and as stress-free as possible this year.

Plan Ahead

You can never overprepare! The back-to-school season, and fall in general, brings a lot of moving parts for both parents and kids. The more you can plan ahead, the better you can adapt to last-minute changes. You’ll also always know what comes next and the supplies necessary to make each day and week successful.

Start with your work planner—map out current projects, meetings, and deadlines that you’ll need to manage in the office during busy times. If you know your child will have football practice or dance lessons during the week and you’ll need to leave early to pick them up, front-load meetings in the morning or set aside time for deep-focus work to stay on top of your tasks. Then when you transition to the parenting portion of your day, you can leave your work worries behind since you know where you’ll pick up the next day.

At home, take this planning step even further and add school plays, sports practice, and parent-teacher conferences into your planner or family calendar. You can even plan out family dinners, the weekly menu to streamline grocery trips, and plan your family’s chores. Go into as much or as little detail as it makes sense for your family. Keeping even a general plan of the moving pieces in your work and home lives can make a huge difference in reducing burnout and stress.

Stick to a Routine

The science doesn’t lie—human beings, both adults and kids alike, function best when they know what to expect. Creating routines for both work and home can help you maintain a work-life balance without becoming overwhelmed. Doing so can even help you be more productive in the office, so all the more reason to implement routines throughout your life.

At work, use the time-blocking strategy to determine when you’ll do certain tasks, when you’ll have meetings, and when you’ll check your email. Keeping daily and weekly routines (i.e., having all or most of your meetings on Tuesdays) will help you stay focused and know what’s coming next. Make sure your routine builds in transition times from home to the office and vice versa, especially if your commute isn’t a long one. Creating mental space between work and home will help you achieve work-life balance in remote or hybrid roles. This way, you won’t be tempted to work or answer emails after-hours when it isn’t necessary.

Keeping routines for your family commitments will also help you strike the perfect balance. Not only will a weekly schedule help your kids know when to do homework and when to go to bed, but building in intentional family bonding time can prevent burnout and keep you connected even when life gets hectic.

Set Firm Boundaries

It can be easy to say “yes” to too many things, both as a parent and an employee. But saying “yes” to everything or not establishing boundaries can quickly lead to fatigue. When you have a full schedule, putting just one or two more commitments on your plate can be the difference between managing your work-life balance and drowning in obligations that can put a strain on your mental health.

Get in the habit of checking your current projects and calendar before taking on more work. You can also delegate smaller tasks to other team members or work together on projects to split the workload into something more manageable. Be intentional with your time and set boundaries between your working hours and off-hours so work doesn’t seep into time with your family. Turn off notifications after you leave for the day or commit to only checking email after-hours at a specific time, like once the kids have gone to bed. Whatever boundary works for you, make sure you stick to it so you can be fully present at home.

Boundaries should also apply to your kids to set the entire family up for success. As tempting as it might be to let your children experience multiple extracurricular activities, set limits as a family based on what is realistic for your schedule. If you have multiple children who need to be driven to multiple activities per week, that is a huge chunk of time that could be otherwise spent on homework, family time, or even just relaxing. Being spread too thin also isn’t good for kids’ stress levels. So, come together as a family to determine what activities and commitments everyone can reasonably handle, and what you need to say “no” to.

Parents Achieve Work-Life Balance at LCS

Achieving work-life balance is a personal endeavor for everyone. However, for parents, working for a company that is committed to family values can help ease the strain. Founded as a family company, LCS strives to make sure all our employees feel like family, including their children. We’re so committed to this, in fact, that this year we hosted our first-ever “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” event so our employees could show their children where they work and what they do. And well, we’ll just let the kids speak for themselves:

If you’re looking to work at a company that values families, then look no further than LCS. Take a look at our open positions and apply today to join our team.