In honor of Labor Day, I wanted to share something I have learned. I started working for the law firm seven years ago (my anniversary was last month!). Finding a balance between home life and work life was one of the biggest challenges for me. As my career evolves, it still challenges me from time to time.
At the beginning, I spent a lot of time focused on work. I lived alone pretty much (my brother was in boot camp for a good part of him living with me), and Michael was on campus, going to school and working his three jobs. It was really easy to put a lot of hours in at work. I loved it. I was finding my fit at the firm. In my relationship (aka home life), we were not like the other couples around us. We didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time together, but when we did, we made sure it was quality time.
After we got married, moved away, and I started working for the firm from home, both my job and home responsibilities were in front of me all the time. Michael’s job has a busy season where I see less of him for about four months in the year. Our jobs require some travel, although Michael’s job requires more than mine. We still strive to find that balance of home and work, making the time we spend together really count.
So here are some things we have learned in our seven years of experience of balancing work and home:
1.) Don’t be at home at work or at work at home (a very big issue with at-home workers). I give my boss and my clients 40 hours a week (8 to 5 with an hour for lunch, Monday through Friday). During that time, I am focused on my clients and my job. Between 5 and the time Michael gets home, I focus on home chores or resting (depending on how crazy the day has been) so that when Michael gets home, we focus that time on us.
2.) Quality over quantity. There have been times in the last seven years where I felt guilty because Michael and I didn’t spend as much time together as other couples in our life stage (especially during college). As we have grown up together, we had a unique experience that taught us to treasure the time we do have together (even if it becomes an “intense discussion of differences”, it is still a time we are growing together and learning about each other).
3.) Boundaries! There are times when life will present amazing opportunities, both at work and outside of work. When I started working in video ministry, a lot of my time was spent at the church or at work, leaving very little time for family. Then last year, I learned the importance of saying no to some experiences in respect and love for the relationship I have with Michael. I have since seen that God not only speaks through ministry but also is reflected in our marriage. It made our marriage stronger and gave me the ability to appreciate our time together even more.
We don’t do this perfectly, but instead, use these things as goals as guidelines to help balance our lives with each other and live in the present. What do you do to balance work and home in your life?