How do I balance work and family?

woman carrying her baby and working on a laptop
By Psychologist Judy McKay

If the pandemic taught us something it was how to manage (or survive) increased work and family demands. Now that the pandemic has slowed, the cost of living continues to rise and life seems ‘busier’ than ever, how do we navigate ongoing work and family demands? 

  • Strive for progress not perfection – Managing work and family demands is challenging and not always feasible. Be kind to yourself and set small, achievable goals e.g., pick one activity or task this week you will prioritise for work and family.
  • Re-evaluate what’s important  – As a society we tend to measure success and productivity based on how ‘busy’ we are. Being busy doesn’t necessarily equate to efficiency, achievement and quality of life. Think back to lockdown – what were the things you and your family really missed and what were the things you were ok to go without? This might assist you to distinguish the necessary from the additional activities and tasks in your life. 
  • BoundariesKnow your limits and your self-worth. Saying ‘no’ is easier said than done however sometimes it’s required. Try to differentiate what you think you “should do ” versus what you “need” or “want” – listening to your ‘gut’ can be helpful here.  Where possible, try to put boundaries in place around work hours, after-school activities and helping others.
  • Put yourself first when you can – “Save yourself before saving others”. In order to help and support others we need to be in a good headspace ourselves. If we are burnt out or our cup is full and overflowing, we are not going to be as efficient or productive as we can be. Find small moments amongst the chaos to do things for yourself – a cup of tea, a walk with a friend or your favourite meal etc.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air” Some balls are made of rubber and they bounce back if dropped. Others are made of glass and can be damaged or marked if dropped. We must understand this to help us strive for balance in our lives.  Bryan Dyson – Former CEO of Coca Cola.

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

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