N.C. Life Coaches Offer Tips for Balancing Work and Home
"There's not enough time in the day!"
You've likely uttered those words before, perhaps often. Finding time for everything people need and want to do and finding a balance between home and work demands are common problems for many people.
Life coaching, according to The International Coach Federation, is defined as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Three North Carolina-based life coaches discuss the most common issues parents face when trying to find a balance between work and home, as well as how best to deal with those issues.
Not enough time
Many parents say their greatest amount of stress comes from not having enough time to do everything. Penny Sommer of Powerful Edge Coaching in Charlotte suggests that parents consider making a distinction among their different roles and what it means to them to be successful in each. She advises asking yourself: "Who am I as a parent? A professional? A friend? A volunteer?" Clarify your values in each of those roles.
"This kind of clarity enables parents to make decisions aligned with their vision - saying 'yes' to the things that are important, 'maybe' to some that are nice to have and 'heck no' to things that don't support their values," Sommer says.
Sarah Levitt, an executive coach and motivational speaker in Raleigh, asks clients about their priorities, but has observed that what they say is often different from how they're living. That's when frustration sets in.
She advises asking yourself: "What are my priorities? How do I want to spend my time?" Be aware of the thoughts you have. A demanding and stressful schedule is real, but if you spend your time fretting, you won't be able to focus on the tasks at hand. Instead, get in the mindset of: "My schedule is full, but I'm going to be in the present where I am now."
Rushing out of work and taking children to activities is simply a fact of life for many families, but make the most of your time in the car. Turn off the electronics and talk to your children.
The perfect parent
Not being able to achieve perfection in each area of life also causes stress for many parents. Attempting to overachieve at work, cook gourmet dinners, and help children make homemade Pinterest crafts can contribute to feeling like a failure at everything.
Sommer encourages parents to ask: "Is it realistic to be the best at everything I do? Do I truly consider this to be important, or am I accepting someone else's belief about the best way to live my life?" Consider whether it's important to you that your house is immaculate or that your child is involved in four different activities.
Life coach Penny Hazen of Hazen Life Coaching in Winston-Salem believes the best thing parents can do is spend a little time in their child's school. Take 30 minutes out of your lunch break and eat lunch with your elementary student. If you have older children, observe a class and watch how your child interacts with friends, teachers and others. Just spending a few minutes on activities such as these can keep you abreast of your child's development.
Take time for - and care of - yourself
Another common problem is that working parents often don't take time for themselves. "Part of being a good parent is taking care of yourself," Hazen says.
Levitt reminds us that, like putting an airplane's oxygen mask on yourself before helping your child, you must nourish yourself to be your best for others in your life. Ask yourself: "How do I want to appear to the most important people in my life? What is missing from my life? What is most important?"
Some parents refuse to work through their lunch break, using that hour each day to rest and rejuvenate. Others find it helpful to set their alarm 10 minutes earlier than they wish to wake up to have a bit of quiet time before the day begins. On the drive home, some parents might choose to silence their phone.
Levitt has a friend she used to never see or talk to because of their busy schedules. They finally scheduled a weekly phone date and made it a priority. She requested that her family use that hour each week to stay quietly in their rooms, and she doesn't schedule any other obligations during that time.
If you have a parenting partner, take turns giving the other a night off each week. This allows that parent to have some "alone time." Single parents can make similar arrangements with other parents.
"Each of the issues mentioned results in stress that manifests itself internally and externally," Sommer says. Only when we begin to identify the actual cause of the stress will we be able to find strategies to eliminate it. "Remember," Levitt says, "small changes can add up to big results."
Lisa Hassell is attempting to balance life's demands while living in Indian Trail, N.C., with her 4-year-old son.
Life Coach Penny Hazen of Hazen Life Coaching in Winston-Salem is the director of a nonprofit organization called One-to-One, with women coaching women. The professional coaches offer coaching services to women who can't afford those services. Location doesn't matter, as coaching is done over the phone. One-to-One also works to coach women who are caretakers of wounded soldiers. For more information visit onetoone.info.