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Dealing with the Stresses of Balancing Professional and Familial Obligations - You can make it easier!
by Kirsten Ross
We all wish that we had more time. Life is so stressful these days. Things can be especially difficult if you haven't been able to swing that alternative work arrangement job that you've been dreaming of. If you are spending 50 or so hours away from your home per week you need to find life balance by finding ways to decrease your stress or at least find some ways to live with it! And the motto here is, "just do the best that you can!" Here are some tips:

Use Your Commute Time Wisely: They say that the optimal commute time is 20 minutes. That is supposedly the amount of time that it takes to unwind and regroup from a stressful day at work. If you are commuting longer, try to think of it as a gift. It may be the only time that you have to yourself all day. If you think positively about something it won't be as stressful. Really use the time to unwind and transition out of your work mode. Listen to relaxing music or to a book on tape. If you use the time wisely you should be able to walk into your home feeling at least semi-refreshed and ready for the next set of challenges.

Set Priorities and Stick to Them: You only have a set amount of time in each day. The little stuff can eat away at your whole day before you even notice. It is, thus, important to have a set of priorities established for each day. Make a list of the most important things each morning. Other things that pop up will have to take a back seat. If you know ahead of time what the important things are, you can make split-second decisions about what to take care of and what to put aside. You'll have less stress if you can get the most important things done. And just let the other stuff go. It will have to wait. Worrying about it won't get you any closer to getting it all done.

Get Everyone To Pitch In: This is obviously easier once your children are older, but even a 3 year old can do a little! Make meal preparation fun. Turn on some lively music, dance and sing! Keep a chore sheet on the refrigerator. Rotate dishes, laundry, dusting and vacuuming. Older kids should fix their own lunches and have them ready for the next day. And if there are two adults in the household and both are sharing the responsibility of bringing in income for the family, then they both need to share the responsibilities of maintaining the home ( Of course, both should help out even if only one of you is working outside of the house there's just too much to do!). You have to have a team approach. In other words, if you have a significant other, make sure that they are doing their share too.

Plan Meals Ahead or Make Quick Meals: Even carry out or drive-thru meals take time. It may seem less stressful, but you probably aren't any better off time-wise if you compare running to get something with making a quick meal. And making your own meals will save money and can be a lot more healthy for your family.

If you can, set aside one Saturday morning every 6 weeks or so to prepare and freeze meals. You can brown ground beef or turkey, marinate chicken breasts and make meatloaf. Date it and freeze it all in meal-sized portions. You'll have quick meals to defrost and cook.

Or, try using recipes from a cookbook like, Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go. Everything is spelled out in this cook book and recipes are easy, quick and nutritious. My mother-in-law also just gave me a subscription to Quick Cooking Magazine. It also has lots of easy, quick recipes. Y

Make Sure that You and Your Significant Other are Still on the Same Team: When everyone is stressed it can begin to feel like you are in it all alone. Try not to get into a competition with your partner over who is more stressed out or who is doing more. It's not a game and neither one of you will win unless you work together. Agree to live under the assumption that you are both doing as much as you can do. If some things don't get done then that's just the way it is. It isn't anyone's fault. It will only add to your stress if you play the blame game. Of course, making this part work assumes that you have mastered the "all pitching in" concept.

Check your Budget: Can you farm ANY of the housework out? Paying to have some chores done may not be as expensive as you think. You may be able to find a reliable teenager in the area who can run a few simple errands for you, shovel the snow, or fold a load of laundry. Ten or fifteen dollars may go further than you think and it can make a world of difference. If you've worked out some quick cooking options to decrease your use of take out you are saving $$. Can you spend some of that savings on getting some additional chores done?

Get Organized! If you spend 10 minutes looking for something every time you go to write a bill or make a phone call, that is a lot of precious time wasted in a week. Set aside some time to find a place for everything and then keep everything in its place. Start a filing system, get a good calendar, buy some plastic storage bins and get it done! A book like Organizing from the Inside Out may help you get started.

QUICK QUICK Stress Reliever!! You probably aren't going to find the time for a Calgon moment but if all else fails, at least try this easy stress-reducer. You can do it anywhere and it just takes a minute. It's called the Square Breathing Technique.

  • Take a slow breath in for 5 counts

  • Hold the breath for 5 counts

  • Exhale for 5 counts

  • Hold it for 5 counts

  • Repeat

Do this a couple of times and it will quickly melt at least some of your stress away. You will be amazed!

And Last But Not Least - Smile! These are the happiest, most rewarding days of your life. You will look back fondly someday . . . believe it or not!

And now I'm going to go back and read my own article. Hopefully, I can get better at all of this too !!!!

Kirsten Ross is mother of two sons and is a Certified Human Resource Professional (SPHR) dedicated to helping women achieve more life balance and to transforming the design of work. Visit Womans-Work.com at http://www.womans-work.com to search our revolutionary flexible work job board featuring more than 35,000 fresh work from home, part time, job share, flex time and telecommuting opportunities, search for a job share partner or read valuable career, life balance and family articles.

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