We all know people who seem to seamlessly manage work and family life. They shine at the weekly team meeting and yet also manage to make it to their kid’s piano recital on time. How do they do it? What are their secrets?
Well, let’s just say it does help if your employer has family-friendly policies and supports personal flexibility. After that, it takes a bit of strategy and finesse to pull off that seemingly elusive work-life balance. But we assure you, it can be done. Follow the lead of these parents who have pulled it off.
Maximize Your Mornings
As a talent recruiter, Stephen Najemian, manager of the Technology Internship Program at Prudential, tends to have a lot of meetings lined up for the day, so he takes advantage of the early morning hours to get a head start on work and home duties.
“I get up early, I walk the dogs, and I prepare us for the day by putting the clean dishes away, taking out the garbage and recyclables, and packing the baby’s bag, then my wife takes over before she heads to work,” says Najemian, father to a 10-month-old, who gets to the office by 7:30 AM. “Coming in early, I can be proactive about what to expect that day, so if my calendar fills with my meetings I’m not falling behind.”
Think Like a Project Manager
Analyn Chin, a digital product owner in customer experience at Prudential, uses an agile project management software tool to stay organized at work. So she did what any smart project manager would do: She adopted an analog version for her family.
“I hung a whiteboard in the dining area, and it has Post-its of everything my kids need to get done in the morning, from eating breakfast and taking their vitamins to combing their hair,” says Chin, who has two children, ages 11 and 10. “They move the Post-it from the ‘to do’ column to ‘in progress’ to ‘done.’ Looking at the board instead of me yelling repeatedly, ‘Did you eat your breakfast? Did you make your bed?’ makes for more peaceful mornings.”
Chin uses the same system in the evenings for packing the next day’s lunches and refilling water bottles. Her kids are such fans of the system, they have even started creating their own Post-its for special tasks.
Rely on AI
Each weekday Chin sets her smart speaker to have an alarm go off at 8 AM. It’s her kids’ cue to get on socks and shoes and be ready to hit the road. The result: Chin drops her kids to school on time, and arrives at her office ready to work. (Thanks, Alexa!)
You can use alarms as reminders to yourself, too. Set your phone alarm to, say, take a head-clearing afternoon walk or to check in with your partner about dinner (Hey, can you pick up a roti chicken?).
Leave on Time, Every Time
Najemian has made it a habit to clock out every day at 4:30 PM, no matter what. That way he gets to spend quality time in the evenings with his daughter before she goes to sleep for the night at 7:30 PM. Sometimes that means leaving work that still needs to be done until tomorrow, or at least until later. “If there’s anything pressing after I put her down that can’t wait until tomorrow, I’ll pop open my laptop,” he says.
Communicate With Your Co-workers
Every morning at 10 AM, Chin and her colleagues have a 15-minute huddle. Anyone who needs to tend to something important at home that day, whether it be a parent-teacher conference, a chiropractic appointment, or a delivery to accept, alerts the team. “It helps us plan for the day and to be more efficient as a team, because we all know what’s going on,” says Chin.
Take Advantage of Benefits
More companies are updating their policies to be friendly to parents of all genders. As an expectant father, Najemian benefited from Prudential’s recently revised 10-week fully paid paternity leave. He spent two weeks at home with his wife after his daughter’s birth—and then when his wife went back to work, Najemian resumed his own leave, taking the remaining eight weeks at home with the baby.
Another benefit Najemian enjoys: Prudential’s backup daycare. The company has a relationship with vendors with multiple locations in case primary childcare falls through. “If we both need to be at work really early or something happens like a sudden closing, we have a backup,” says Najemian. “It’s cool that Prudential understands life occasionally throws you curveballs.”