There’s this ideal image people create for the perfect working person. Someone capable of balancing a demanding job they have upward mobility in, a couple of kids who are excelling and still maintaining a life outside of the stress. Unfortunately, this perfect image is difficult to reach and can seem impossible. Although there’s no way to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted in 24 hours since we all need sleep: there are some ways to get more out of your days.

Here are some of the best ways to find that perfect balance between work, kids, and yourself.

Breathe, Organize

If you’re feeling a lack of balance in your life, the odds are you’re feeling overwhelmed. There’s no way to fix this except slowing yourself down at first. When you’re running full steam, and the world seems to be moving quickly past you, it’s hard to catch your breath. Take a day, and reset. Use this time to listen to music you love, eat food you like, have a relaxed time with your kids, and review what your life is asking of you.

What are your weekly obligations? What are your daily commitments? Is there anything you’re doing that’s making it too hard for yourself, or anything you’re missing? Don’t try to schedule out every minute of your week, or you’ll face burnout and exhaustion.

Instead, set two-hour windows for yourself. An example of this would be: 6-8 am, get up, have your coffee, and do a little yoga. Eat breakfast; take your kids to school. 8-11 am your morning work period, give yourself an allotted amount of work to do in this period. From there, build out a day that allows for rest, work, sleep, and kids.

Don’t major Overhaul.

Although it may feel tempting to change every part of your life at once, it’s better to take it to step by step.

If significant stress is a messy home, take your time figuring out a system for everything. The first week you can introduce a new laundry system, where everyone dumps their laundry in the washer before bed, and you run it and then fold it in the morning. Then, in the next week, you can introduce another change- like someone having to sweep the kitchen every night or feed Fido. Gradual and slow changes are more likely to stick and less likely to cause burnout or fatigue.

Ask For Help

You don’t have to do everything yourself! If you’re married, there’s a built-in partner who has to help you with things- if you’re single, you still have friends and family to support. Reach out, let people know you need help, and ask for it. It might seem scary to ask for help, but if you’re drowning in work and stress, then you don’t have any choice. Someone may be able to offer to pick your kids up from school so you can get in an extra half-hour of work, or someone else may offer to babysit while you spend an evening off! Please put it out there that you need help.

Schedule Break Time

As important as work is, breaks are vital. If you work from home, don’t work and rest in the same areas. Create a separate living space and working space, and follow those rules strictly. If you find yourself gravitating back to the living room couch anyway, reconsider the seating in your work area. On your brakes, you should be able to cut loose and relax; if you stress yourself out on breaks, you won’t feel like you’ve had any time away from the office.

You can also use this time to review if the changes you’ve made are working for you! If not, you can always change them further or go back to old ways, as long as you’re finding what works best for your household.

Go Back To Crockpots

In recent years there’s been a push away from using crockpots, despite how useful they are. Although you can’t turn your life around by pulling out the crockpot you were given at your wedding: this tool is an example of how you can make your life easier. Although some nights you may want to pull out your cast iron pan and get to work with a large, complicated meal, crockpots are there for the other days.

Put together a soup, chili, or chicken breast and buffalo sauce, and leave it in the fridge the night before. The next morning you can turn the crockpot on, and while you’re gone, the food will cook.

Don’t be afraid to ‘shortcut’ things like this! You don’t win any prizes for making things harder on yourself, and crockpot food can be so good. If you want some extra crunch with your meals, you can make garlic bread in the oven quickly or serve a crunchy spinach salad with it!

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