Going through a divorce is hard enough on its own. When there are children involved, the stakes are raised and the process can be even more difficult. No matter your custody arrangement, spending as much time as possible with your children is important. They’ve been through a life-changing event, too, and often need the comfort and reassurance of their parents.
But, a divorce doesn’t mean the rest of your life gets to be put on hold. You might find yourself having to pick up more work since you’re down to a single income. If you were a stay-at-home parent during your marriage, you may even find yourself working full-time for the first time.
Whatever the case, it can be challenging to balance your time between work and family when you’re doing it on your own. That’s especially true now, when your kids may be doing virtual learning and you might be working remotely due to COVID-19.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as you try to maintain that work-life balance, there are a few things you can do to keep it steady. With a few helpful tips, you can find more time for your family, feel less burnt out at work, and finally achieve the balance you deserve to start the next chapter of your life.
Increase Your Remote Productivity
As mentioned above, you might be working remotely right now due to COVID-19. Or, you might have been one of the nearly 42% of Americans who were working from home before the pandemic hit. Remote working has been on the rise in recent years thanks to advancements in technology. It also benefits businesses by lowering overhead costs and can even increase productivity.
But, from a personal standpoint, that productivity boost can feel easier said than done. When you’re working from home, it’s so important to stay focused on the task at hand. But, it’s easy to get distracted by everything from household chores to family members. That can lead to working odd hours and spending time in the evening focused on your job instead of paying attention to your kids.
So, what can you do to boost your productivity when you work from home and strike a healthier balance between your work life and home life? Some practical ideas include:
- Having a designated office or workspace within your home.
- Only working during a specific time during the day.
- Making sure your family knows those are your “working hours.”
- Giving yourself breaks throughout the day.
- Developing a nighttime/morning routine to stay consistent.
You can also use tools that will help you to stay on track with your work without overwhelming yourself, like a work time tracker. Or, stay focused by meditating and practicing mindfulness throughout the day. These techniques can help you stay focused so you’ll get your work done effectively and on time.
Work With Your Co-Parent
One of the best ways to make sure you have time for work and family is to communicate closely with your co-parent. That isn’t always easy, especially if you had a contentious divorce. But, keep the following tips in mind whenever you have an interaction with your former spouse:
- Try to keep things as professional as possible.
- Don’t ever fight in front of your kids.
- Keep topics about the kids and not personal issues.
- Don’t use your children as ‘bartering’ tools.
- Make decisions based on what is best for your kids, not for each other.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing problems across the country, it’s more important than ever to work together to establish guidelines and boundaries. The pandemic should, in no way, interfere with the parenting time you’re allowed (or vice versa). Parenting time interference can occur for a variety of reasons, but if you’re not able to spend time with your kids because of the pandemic, the problem should be remedied right away.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a positive relationship with your co-parent. Putting your feelings aside will make room to discuss the best decisions for your children. Stand firm about the time you’re entitled to, especially if you’re working more and not seeing your children as much as you want to. When you work together, you both can establish a better work-life balance.
Make Time for Your Kids
Ultimately, balancing your time between work and family is about prioritizing that time. Obviously, you have to work to make money and take care of your household. But, shifting things around in your schedule should always be an option. If you want to spend more time with your kids, make time. Commit to it. Doing so will keep you motivated to get your work done and keep it from creeping into your personal life.
When you are with your kids, consider going through a sort of “digital detox.” The time you spend with them will have more meaning if you aren’t staring at your phone the whole time, answering work emails, or checking up on social media.
Additionally, you can make your time meaningful with your children by doing things that will build lasting memories. Take a spontaneous day trip, or go all-out for a birthday party. That doesn’t mean you need to go on extravagant adventures or spend a lot of money. Even the simplest gestures like going all out on party food show your child that you care. Doing things together that will strengthen your bond and keep them interested will make them cherish the time you spend with them.
Try to do things with your children that they’re interested in, or try something new with them. New hobbies are a great way to spark their curiosity and allow them to gain independence when it comes to problem-solving skills and patience. You can also help your child with a sport they’re interested in or visit an art gallery if they love to draw. Think about what would really stand out to them, and make it a priority to carve out time for it.
Balancing time between work and family as a divorced parent isn’t easy. But, it is about making choices. Use some of these tips to make those choices easier and more sustainable, and you can start to strike a healthier balance, no matter your situation.