Are you a parent? If so, I don’t have to remind you how chaotic the month of May can be. With end-of-year parties, proms, sports banquets, last-minute school projects, recitals, productions, and graduations, your children’s schedule is jam-packed.
But that’s not all. Aside from your work commitments, social events like weddings and holidays like Mother’s Day (this weekend) and Memorial Day all need to be scheduled as well.
It is for that reason that the term “Maycember” is gaining popularity. Originally coined by the Holderness Family back in 2016, May is a month bursting with gatherings, activities, and ceremonies like December. Unfortunately, the only thing missing is presents, cookies, or twinkling lights.
“Maycember” can be exhausting, to put it mildly. Even so, with a little planning and preparation, we can make the most of, as well as survive, May.
1. Develop a fresh mindset.
Let’s be real. There’s no external factor that makes you busy. Instead, it’s a state of mind.
The truth is that you are always focused on one thing at a time. At any moment, you’re only accomplishing one task, or two at most, if you’re trying to multitask.
The real meaning of the word “busy” is to be busy in your head. These are the results of distractions, anxiety, fears, worries, and to-do lists that clutter your mind.
A better approach? Instead of thinking of busy seasons as “empty,” think of them as “full.” This simple mental shift helps you become more present, calmer, and more balanced without removing anything from your schedule.
Or, in the words of Gary Keller, “When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.”
2. Maintain a consistent schedule.
It’s no secret that working parents have to juggle work and home responsibilities. Due to this, it’s no wonder that two-thirds of working parents are burnt out.
Although there is no magic cure for parental burnout, creating a schedule can help. By doing so, you can separate your work from your home life and devote the required attention.
Your schedule will make it easier to inform your family about your availability. In addition, you will be more productive at work and have quality family time.
A Kid’s Calendar
It is a good idea to put together a schedule for your children, too, if you work from home. If you are at the office every day — still have a schedule and Calendar your children’s activities. By doing this, they will have their own schedule for the day, which allows you to focus on your work. You can have the babysitter refer back to the kids’ schedule during interruptions so the kids and the babysitter know when it’s playtime, lunchtime, or clean-up time.
When you finally have your Calendar — a kid’s Calendar, with their activities — and the babysitter’s Calendar — everything works more smoothly. That is the beauty of the Calendar experience. You will want these all on the same Calendar, and in different colors for different kid’s you keep track of. Calendar slurps in all your Calendar’s into one place so you never miss an event again! It will be your shared calendar app to keep everyone on the same page; each family member can easily view the schedules of others.
The demands of working parents are numerous. Let’s imagine you’re at work and have an hour to spare. That time could be spent scheduling summer camps or doing research for a work project. There will be times when you have to respond to emails, assign tasks, or do “home” stuff like ordering a meal delivery. If your office closes at five, that’s a lot to cram in.
To get around this, you can allocate different blocks of time to different kinds of priorities. These are some possible blocks:
- 5:30 – 6:15 a.m.: Me, such as drinking coffee, exercising, reading, or morning podcast.
- 6:15 – 8 a.m..: Family, like eating breakfast together or getting the kids ready for school.
- 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.: Work
- 5 – 8 p.m.: Family, such as eating dinner or playing games.
- 8 – 11 p.m.: Quality time with your spouse and planning tomorrow.
Typically, any spare time on the weekend is devoted to Housework, like decluttering, tidying, and folding laundry. However, most weekends are spent with the family.
You can narrow your choices with these priority blocks. Plus, you won’t feel guilty about prioritizing your family time. Only work if it’s really essential and urgent during those times.
Using this method, you’ll no longer have to decide whether to finish that work report or help your children with their schoolwork. Your choice will be obvious so that you won’t feel confused.
In short, as a working parent, you must learn how to prioritize your life – and work.
4. Don’t overextend yourself.
Don’t fool yourself. No matter how proud you are of being a super-parent, nothing worthwhile comes out of stretching yourself too thin. Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming and exhausting. When it comes to managing the balancing act, this is a key component.
Let’s say that on Saturday, your kids have a soccer game, and you’ve been invited to a birthday party or wedding for your niece. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends or neighbors that you’re already booked.
The same goes for work. If you have plans with your family, reschedule that dinner meeting. Or, avoid taking on any new projects if you have a full workload.
5. Streamline your life.
Keeping a house in order, attending to the kids, and working can make even the coolest of cucumbers stressed. After all, who wants to come home after work to a mountain of laundry and unwashed dishes?
Whenever possible, hire a cleaning or lawn service, order takeout, prepare easy meals, and shop online. Your kids will get more time with you if you have fewer things on your to-do list. When you spend quality time with your children instead of doing housework, you will significantly reduce your feelings of guilt.
As for work? Consider delegating certain jobs to others or trimming down your to-to-list.
It might even be worthwhile to consider tools that automate your work. Many professionals use ChatGPT to enhance their work, including marketers, programmers, educators, students, researchers, copywriters, doctors, scientists, journalists, and others. An example of this is ChatGPT, which uses artificial intelligence to manage repetitive tasks.
6. Be prepared for the unexpected.
The month of May is likely to be packed with events. But, as we’ve established, that’s to be expected.
While planning ahead is important, things don’t always go according to plan. The solution? Give yourself a little flexibility.
That may sound impossible with so much going on. But, one trick that is hopefully is leaving some blank space in your calendar. For instance, you could leave your calendar blank from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This way, you can attend to emergencies, like taking your kid to children if they sprained their ankle at soccer.
What if there aren’t any fires to put out? Well, you can still use this block of time productively by getting ahead on your to-do list, cleaning out your inbox, or running errands.
7. Make sure you don’t skimp on breaks.
Being present and enjoying the moments when they happen will be easier if you take time for yourself. Take a moment to recharge. You can do this by sipping hot tea, meditating, or taking a deep breath between meetings. It’s just a matter of scheduling these breaks. If not, they won’t take place.
I understand that there are a lot of things going on. However, planning ahead will help you enjoy May and prevent burnout.
8. Work with your boss to reach a compromise.
Talk to your boss if your schedule is just too hectic and you’re really struggling to find time for your kids. Ask for flexibility in your working hours and negotiate a convenient schedule. Some suggestions include the following:
- Working from home, even if it’s only a few days a week.
- Being able to work around the schedule of your family.
- Reducing your hours or workload.
- A job-sharing arrangement that involves sharing your position with another part-time worker.
- Parental leave.
Obviously, this isn’t always possible. Your boss, however, may be understanding if you bring your child to work occasionally if he is considerate of your needs.
9. Lay down ground rules for a work-life balance that works for you.
Employees often fear that setting boundaries about how late they can respond to emails and other after-hours responsibilities will affect the company’s culture, Abby Miller writes in a previous Calendar article.
However, a vital conversation with your employer and team will be necessary because of the extra-long-hour work you did before the kids came along.
Ground rules can include the following:
- After 3:00 p.m., meetings are prohibited.
- Meetings always end on time.
- Work should be left at work – no emails or calls after 7:00 p.m.
- If you are sick or on vacation, you should not send emails, texts, or Slack messages.
- A backup owner will be assigned to each critical path activity.
Abby warns that these “rules” might not work for you. Nonetheless, you must discuss how your team can achieve work/life balance in a group setting.
10. Make your inner circle bigger.
Those who have been in your shoes can only relate to and understand what it’s like. Sure, you may have a lot of friends. But you should try to find other parents who find it hard to balance work and family.
Being able to talk to others who can offer support and acknowledge working parents’ hard work is important. They may even lend an ear when you need to vent. When you have this support and relevant conversations, you’re reminded how hard you’re working and how much you’re committed.
What’s more, you can turn to this support system when needed. For example, if you have a work emergency, you could ask your neighbor if your child can tag along to soccer practice. You will want to have all this information in your Calendar — and have it shared with those you want to have the information. Always remember to return the favor.
Are both parents working?
Over 67% of American households have both parents working full-time. Both parents are expected to work in our society. Additionally, as costs rise and inflation increases, some households may require both parents to be employed.
For one parent to stay home with the children, some families may sacrifice in other areas. Families have different needs, individual goals, and different desires in terms of both parents working.
When parents work too much, what happens?
Parents who spend too much time on their jobs and too little on their families may suffer from behavioral problems, mental health issues, and difficulty bonding with their children. All these issues can have a negative effect on the dynamics of the entire family.
Parents often leave children on their own to raise them. In addition to guilt, burnout, fatigue, and stress, working parents can also suffer from negative effects.
Can I take a career break?
If you understand the consequences of your decision, you can step away from your career path. Your absence may cause you to miss out on a promotion or make you feel like you have to “catch up” once you are back at work.
It is important to note, however, that not all consequences are negative. When you take a break, you can spend more time with your family, relax, and consider your next move.
Even if you are not working, find ways to keep your brain active and network.
Is it possible to balance work and family life?
Many people have fixed work schedules, and flexibility is not an option for them. However, you can free your mind by examining your overall schedule, planning in advance, setting guidelines, and changing your mental focus from work to home and vice versa, regardless of where you work.
Image Credit: Rahul Pandit; Pexels; Thank you!
Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. Former Editor-in-Chief and writer at Startup Grind. Freelance editor at Entrepreneur.com. Deanna loves to help build startups, and guide them to discover the business value of their online content and social media marketing.