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Workplace Stress: Balancing children and work

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Workplace stress affects many of us and balancing children and work can feel like an uphill struggle. We all know how difficult it is to juggle work and looking after a family, so if you are feeling stressed by a seemingly impossible array of tasks on a daily basis, don’t worry – the situation that you are in is one of the most demanding that you are likely to ever face, so it is not at all surprising if you sometimes feel that you are not completely in control.

Keep it under control

But you do need to be aware that stress can get out of hand. When this happens, you may find yourself becoming moody, irritable, and even feeling physically unwell. You may find it harder to control your intake of alcohol and nicotine. You might not sleep or eat properly. And at the most extreme, you might have panic attacks or fall into a depression.

Stressed Man Working On Laptop

The most worrying thing about this level of stress is that if you are really struggling with the way that you feel, this is bound to show itself in your interaction with your children. We are all short-tempered and impatient occasionally, but if this is a daily occurrence for you, then there is little doubt that your kids are going to feel the impact.

What can I do?

If you think that things have got serious, there is really only one answer – you are going to have to make some changes so as to reduce your stress levels. This may seem impossible but is that really the case? Can you work shorter hours, or more flexibly? Can you change jobs, and take on something less pressured? It is understandable if you are reluctant to take a step down the career ladder, but remember that it will only be temporary – your children are growing up fast and the day when you can get back into the rat race full time will arrive only too soon.

If you really can’t make any changes at work, then you might need to seek help. Are there friends and family who would give you some support if only they knew how much you are struggling? It may be hard to admit that you are not managing, but if you can bring yourself to do it, you might be surprised by how willing people are to help out.

Help yourself

If really big changes are beyond you, try some smaller adjustments. Write down an account of your daily routine and identify the times when you are struggling These are most likely also the times when you are short of patience with your children. Try to identify changes you can make in each of those situations so that things become a little easier on you.

You matter tooworkplace stress: Managing children and work

You may also need to learn to put your own needs first sometimes. It really is ok to let the housework go if you are exhausted. As long as everyone is fed and has reasonably clean clothes, the rest of it can wait. Learn to say ‘no’ to requests for you to help with things, unless they are things that you really do enjoy. That school cake sale or PTA meeting really will still go ahead without your input . And most importantly, find some time for yourself. This may be the hardest thing to do, but spending just a short time each week exercising, or doing something creative can be enough to relieve that feeling of being on a treadmill, and can provide the breathing space you need to start thinking  clearly about how to achieve balance in the rest of your life.

 

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About Paula Hendry

About Paula Hendry

Paula Hendry is a freelance consultant in the field of social work. She has been a social worker for twenty five years, and specialises in mental health. Paula has two children and writes in her spare time (which is virtually non-existent.)

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