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Balancing it all: Family, friends, work, alone time

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Today, more than ever, it has become a great challenge for many of us to successfully manage all aspects of our lives. These areas include, but are not limited to: family, work, friendships and time for self. The challenge to effectively balance these key areas is further multiplied when we are dealing with parents or parenthood. Oftentimes, both parents in the household are employed full-time, making time spent as a family unit exceedingly difficult and scarce.

Because we are all complex beings and have numerous facets, in order to feel completely fulfilled we have an innate need to experience satisfaction on many levels: as a parent, friend, spouse, professional and individual. What usually happens, is that people become engrossed and stuck in one or two areas of their lives (i.e., work , children) while all of the other important  areas that make us a whole and complete entity inevitably get neglected. It eventually becomes a pattern or vicious cycle encapsulating a person’s life, which then, inherently, brings forth a lack of fulfillment and disharmony with the person’s vision of his or her “ideal life.” This lack of fulfillment is often the catalyst that leads people to seek help to enable them to better cope with the many demands that face them on a daily basis. It should also be stated, at this point, that in a society that is highly driven by social media (i.e., Facebook), there is a tremendous impact on our desire to devote quality time to those we deem most important in our lives, as well as our decision to remain actively engaged with those in our presence. So, how can we best go about devoting equitable amounts of time and energy to all areas of our lives that we consider significant? The answer is simple: time management.

Because most work schedules demand 40 hours per week, when at home with your spouse and children, making a conscious decision to set aside all distractions (such as cell phones, other technological devices, work-­‐related matters, etc.) and making a concerted effort to remain present and in the moment with family members will aid in the process of establishing an allotted amount of time devoted to family. This time can be spent however the family deems enjoyable  i.e., playing board games, engaging in meaningful dialogue,  playing sports together as a family. In addition, weekends are the best days of the week to capitalize on time spent with family. Attending basketball practice or soccer games as a family unit is also time well spent.

Setting aside some time to nurture the friendships we’ve built over time is also vital to our mental and emotional well-­‐being. Spouses can decide to take turns on alternating weekends to get together with friends, either with or without their spouse. Marital symbiosis and individuation are both considered “normal” aspects of the development of a marital relationship. Therefore, spending time together and apart are both qualities of a healthy marriage.

Finally, time spent alone is an equally important feature of a successfully balanced life. It is both healthy and natural to want to spend time by ourselves. Often, this is when we are able to truly hear our own thoughts. Also, these moments of solitude are when we can better gain clarity on an issue plaguing us in our professional or personal lives and are the times we can become most creative and imaginative. If your spouse or elected babysitter is able to manage the children for a couple of hours, it can prove quite beneficial to your mental health. Alone time can be spent reading a novel, exercising or enjoying a cup of coffee without distraction or interruption.

Just as time spent in the company of others helps to develop one’s sense of self, so too, time spent alone further heightens a person’s self-­‐awareness and helps the individual to refuel and refocus. Essentially, this oneness with the self furthers the level of productivity in the above-­‐mentioned professional, social and family spheres. So, here’s to finding a copacetic and healthy balance in your life!

By Simone Jacquemin, M.S. Certified Life Coach, Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy/Mental health Counseling

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