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Life and Work Balance: How to Set Quality Time Aside

After the holidays, in the first few months of the year, many of us are busier than ever catching up on work and preparing our taxes. And oftentimes, it's difficult to set aside time for our families and ourselves. If you recognize this scenario, read on for tips on how to reserve quality time for your children, your partner and yourself.

Balancing work and life.

Your Children

Getting your kids to school and practice, helping them with their homework and minding them when their friends are over can leave you with less relaxed one-on-one time than you'd like. Here are some easy ideas to spend precious time with your children—without distractions like TV or devices.

  • Go for a walk. When your kids are bouncing off the walls with energy and you can't seem to calm them down, go for a walk together. In fact, Parents.com advises doing this just before bedtime to allow them to mellow out.
  • Make a fun meal together. Tacos, pasta, pancakes—whatever your child's favorite meal is, why not prepare it together? Better yet: make decorations together to match the theme of your meal. And if you make cooking together a regular event, your child will look forward to it for days!
  • Fix it. Kids are naturally curious, and when it comes to things like painting a fence, changing a tire or repairing a broken appliance, many love to know what you're doing. Explain to your child what you're doing and instruct him or her how to assist you. With a bit of encouragement, you'll have the best little helper in the world!

Your Partner

Mornings are rushed, evenings are short and weekends are filled with grocery shopping, housework and social engagements. Before you know it, you've lost track of when you last spent a romantic evening with your partner or went on a date together. The following suggestions can help you make quality time to spend with your partner.

  • Turn off the TV. After a hectic day, it's easy to flop onto the couch and grab the remote. However, unless both you and your partner are actively engaged in the program and can share your thoughts on it, watching TV isn't the best way to spend time together. Turn off your TV and devices and have a good conversation about something other than your kids.
  • Go on a date. Remember when you'd just met? Those butterflies wouldn't leave you alone as soon as your (now) partner walked into the room! Recreate the same circumstances by setting a monthly date night. Whether it's a romantic dinner or a visit to an art gallery, make sure you both prepare for it like when you were first going out. Get dressed up, put everything else out of your mind and turn off your phone. And if you have kids, get a sitter so you can enjoy each other's company without distractions.
  • Ask your partner what he or she would like to do. Granted, you can initiate quality time, but so can your partner. Discuss fun activities that allow you to take off your work or parent hats when you're together. Make a list, and agree to choose at least one activity per week.

Yourself

If you never seem to have a moment to yourself, it's time to remedy that. Here's how:

  • Don't work late. Even if it's just one day a week, make sure to leave work at five o'clock, or whatever hour you're due to clock out. You'll be surprised at how much extra time you'll have that evening.
  • Exercise. Exercise is good for your body, but it's also good for your mind. Spend some time exercising at least three times a week. It doesn't matter whether it's yoga, fitness, walking, running or swimming: simply getting up and moving means you're doing something for you.
  • Have an evening to yourself. Take an evening each week for yourself. Read a good book in a quiet corner or enroll in an art class at your local community center or college.
  • Plan a date with yourself. Whether it's a spa day, an art gallery, movie or a walk on the beach, plan a special date with yourself ahead of time and commit to it. If you like, you can always invite your partner or a friend to join you.

Setting time aside for yourself and your loved ones can seem impossible at times. But with these tips in mind, you'll find it's easier than you planned on.

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