Unless you are born with a lot of wealth, work is necessary for you to live. Even if you do have wealth, you have to manage it appropriately or it will be gone as well. So what is the proper balance of work and home life? Both of these activities require your time. How much time should you devote to each one? They not only need your time, but they need your attention and your thoughts as well. What is the best way to balance them all?
1.) Energy and time spent at each one is cumulative.
The more time and energy that you spend at work, the more successful you are there – to an extent. (We’ll talk more about this later on.) The more time and energy that you spend at home with your family, then usually the more satisfied your relationships are with your family – to an extent. Where you invest time and energy, you reap the benefits.
2.) You can spend too much time with your family.
Too much time with your kids is called helicopter parenting. They never get alone time or the opportunity to make their own decisions and deal with consequences. Too much time with your spouse can be smothering. Each spouse needs some alone time and some time spent with friends.
3.) Some husbands feel like they are in the predicament of – “I have to work a lot to make the amount of money that makes my wife happy, but my wife is mad that I am not home enough.”
They feel like they can’t win.
For some, this undue pressure to make enough money may be mainly in their head. They mind-read. They assume that their wife demands so much money or such and such house. They make these deductions from comments their wife has made, but they have not just sit her down and discussed it at length. They need to have a heart to heart talk with their wife.
For others, their wife does demand they make this amount of money, live in this house, and spend this amount of time with the family. The wife may have unrealistic expectations. In this case, the husband needs to exercise the “Law of Responsibility”. In the Boundaries books, Dr. Townsend and Dr. Cloud describes the Law of Responsibility as “We are responsible to each other, but not for each other.” In other words, the husband is responsible for his actions when he is at home and when he is at work, but he is not responsible for his wife’s feelings. He may have to work less hours and make less money so that he can spend more time with his family. The wife may be upset about the less money, but she needs to deal with her own feelings.
4.) What is the appropriate work week?
In the United States, the work week had been fought over since the 1860s. In 1890, the average work week for a manufacturing worker was 100 hours. In 1914, Henry Ford found that less than 40 hours per week of work boosted the productivity on his assembly line. By 1940, the 8 hour day and 40 hour work week became standard in many industries. So for about 80 years, there was a debate about the appropriate work week. This was not an overnight decision.
In Genesis, God works for six days and on the seven he rests. The sabbath or day of rest is commanded. It is one of the ten commandments. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work…”
So I would say no more that 48 hours of work in a week is healthy and that it would be preferable 40 hours or less. The fact is that we need rest to be fully functional at work. Studies have shown that we can do short bursts of extra work, but we need extra downtime to recover. After too much over time, our quality of work decreases.
5.). Couples that own their own businesses really struggle with the balance.
“When does the work stop?” – many spouses want to know. Because it doesn’t seem like it ever does.
Here are some guidelines to give balance to your home and work life.
1. Set a time that you do not answer the phone or emails after. For example, you may say that after 6pm you will not answer a business call or reply to an email. You will return the call or email the next day.
2. Set a time that you will stop talking about business. For example, you may implement a rule that you will not discuss business after 5pm or 7pm, depending on your type of business. The rest of the evening will be time to talk about family, relax, and play with the kids.
3. Schedule a block of time that you will discuss business/finances as a couple. This would be setting aside a certain time to plan business goals, adjust family budget, and plan how to spend money. For example, you may set Tuesdays between 7-8pm that you talk specifically about the business finances and family finances. And for the most part, it is not discussed at other times, especially in the evenings after the set time to stop business talk.
4. Setting aside a day during the week where you recharge and do not work on business, discuss business, or think about business. This is your sabbath.
5. Proactively, plan on your calendar mini-vacations and vacations. Look ahead and purposely schedule weekends where you know that you will need a break. Spread the times out appropriately. If possible, take a mini-vacations (2-3 days) every quarter.