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Understanding Work-Life Balance

By January 27, 2017 No Comments

As a mature adult and a parent, there’s a good chance you have some decent life experience behind you. This (hopefully) equips you to consider concepts that might never have occurred to your young adult child. For example, you’ll know that there’s only so much time in the day, and sometimes you need to make hard choices about how to spend that time.

What is work–life balance?

The work you do, whether that happens to be in an office, outside or in the home, is important. Not only is it bringing in money for the family, or providing an environment that supports the primary breadwinner to do so, but it should also give you a sense of purpose, of making a difference, however large or small that may seem.

Life shouldn’t be all work and no play though. We all need time to relax, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy our personal hobbies.

For a young person starting out though, especially in certain careers, it’s often considered acceptable (and even expected) that they will spend long hours working. That might even be fine while they are young and their focus is all about establishing themselves in the world.

It’s worth encouraging your child to think ahead a bit though, about whether they still want to be working those kinds of hours and/or under that kind of pressure, in a few years time.

Start teaching them early

The more choice you give your child around how to spend their time, the better. Let them start to make informed decisions for themselves from an early age, and to experience the consequences of that. For example, if they choose to play now, that means they will need to do their homework later, when they’re more tired and might prefer to be having fun with their siblings.

If it’s too late to do this with your current college-age kid, start now with younger kids and speak to friends about it, so they can apply it to their kids.

Encourage forethought

When your child is old enough to start considering possible career paths, or even thinking about specific companies they want to work for, encourage them to research what’s involved. They can Google it, ask people in the field or job-shadow or intern at a company in the industry.

The kinds of questions they should ask (preferably in a way that doesn’t sound like they’re simply lazy) are:

  • How long is the average work day?
  • Is there often overtime on weekdays or weekends?
  • Will they sometimes be on call?
  • Are things different at different stages of their career?

The answers to those questions will be very different for a lawyer or doctor, a graphic designer or accountant, or a start-up entrepreneur.

Be an example

If you never have time for family or enjoying your own hobbies, your child is likely to learn by default that that particular lifestyle is the only way to do it, without realising the sacrifices that you have made in the process. Try to demonstrate through your own life that it doesn’t have to be that way, or if you can’t show them, at least talk to them about it.

In the end, your college-going kid’s choice of career path needs to be their own. Your job is to encourage them to gather as much information as they can beforehand, and to share your own experiences, so their decision can be as well informed as possible

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