There had been many times in my three years of being a working mother that I asked myself: What should I prioritize, my family or my work? I wake up at 4 am to cook meals for my family and prepare for work. I spend at least 9 hours at work and then go back home to take care of my kids.
There were times when I thought of quitting my job to just stay at home and take care of my children. But when I think of the rising cost of living based on Mercer’s Survey (2008), I cannot afford to be without some form of income. Based on this survey, Singapore is already ranked 5th in the Top 5 Cost of Living Ranking Cities by Region.
The prices of basic commodities are increasing. The rent and daily transportation expenses also strain the family’s budget. And most of all, there’s the present and future needs of my children. I really need to work so I can earn money to take care of my children. But what is quite ironic is that the work which gives me a source of income is also hindering me from spending time with my family and kids. But what do I do?
Somehow, I feel guilty because I only have a little time to spend with my children. And I guess I am not the only parent or mother who feels this way. This is the reason why I try to think of ways in which I can create and spend more time with my family. Here are some of my ideas:
Set your priorities
First and foremost, clarify your priorities. Which is most important to you? Is it your family or your work? List and rank these concerns so that you get a clear idea of your priorities. If your first priority is your family, then you should resolve to spend more time with them — more than you would with your work or your other social activities. The reason that most parents are deprived of spending time with their children is because they allow not-so-important concerns or activities to steal their time away without being fully conscious of the situation.
Leave your work in the office
This simply means that you don’t bring your work home. If you have an 8-hour work, make sure that you do everything that’s work-related in the office and never bring home any paperwork. As much as possible I try to complete all my work at the office. If there is a deadline to beat, then I make a plan to finish it ahead of time to avoid procrastination.
Arrange for a flexible work schedule
To have more time to take care of your children, you might consider arranging for a flexible work schedule with your company. Talk with your employer about your intention to give more time to your family without sacrificing or losing your job. Your boss might be accommodating since this is a topical issue these days.
Turn off the TV
After work, there is usually the tendency for us to relax in front of the television. But this is not acceptable for us as parents. When you get home in the evening, don’t turn on the television right away. This habit cheats you of time with your family. Instead of eating dinner with your kids, talking to them about their activities for the day, or assisting them with their homework, you find yourself looking at television. So to give your best attention to your family by switching off the television.
Share or delegate household tasks
If you have children who are old enough to do minor household chores such as putting toys in the box, sweeping the floor or clearing the table, then ask them to help around the house. This could be a very important family bonding time. In this way, you also make them responsible for little tasks from which they can learn to be responsible at a young age. You can also allow older children to wash dishes with you. You might also do the laundry or cook meals together with your spouse. Doing household tasks together can strengthen your bonds as a family.
Hire household help
If your pocket can afford it, consider hiring part-time household help to do the laundry or clean the house at least once or twice a week. If doing this will allow you to have more time with your family, then you should consider the option.
Set one day every week for family time
There is nothing more pleasurable for young children than to be with their parents for one whole day. You can schedule fun activities that everyone will enjoy. Have a picnic in the backyard. Play sports together. Engage in art or music activities as a family. Go sightseeing in the park or visit the museums or better yet the Underwater World Oceanarium. Spend a day visiting places at least once a month. It might be expensive but think of it as investing in your children’s future. What your kids will learn during these trips is worth more than the money you have spent. If you don’t have much money to spend then just stay at home cuddling your spouse and playing with the kids.
Remember and attend special occasions and events
Special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries and special events for your children at school should be marked in your calendar. Block off time for these events. Your children as well as your spouse will appreciate your effort to spend these special times with them.
These are only some of the things you can do to create and spend time with your family. There are more creative ways you can probably think of which will work for you and your unique situation. But the key to creating and spending time with your family is time management. It’s the only solution that will allow you to spend quality time with your family while earning that much-needed income.