Life for Charles was not smooth right from childhood. His father was alcoholic and rarely contributed to the family’s welfare. His mother was a teacher in a local school and she doubled up as a small scale farmer.
His mother took Charles and his 4 siblings through school single-handedly. She was a very hard working woman and even though life was not easy, the family’s basic needs were taken care of.
Charles had a dream of becoming an engineer one day. He imagined himself building roads and bridges.
Life did not turn out as expected. He did not make it to university but instead pursued some short computer courses. Getting a job proved to be an uphill task. He eventually settled for a job as a public service vehicle driver, which was not what he had aspired for.
The Wake-up Call
Settling down to life as a public service vehicle driver was not a walk in the park. He worked long hours and was only free on Sundays. The challenges increased after he married.
It was difficult for his wife to cope with his work schedules and the strain in their marriage became apparent from very early in the relationship. They had been friends since primary school and the sudden tension between them pained him.
Charles would explain to his wife that the job was demanding but she would not understand. Sometimes she would not talk to him for days, blaming him for not having time for his young family.
Five years into the marriage, they had been blessed with two young sons. He had become more of a stranger to the family. He only had Sundays to spend with his wife and children. He would accompany them to the Sunday service then catch up with sleep in the afternoons, having been deprived of sleep the entire week.
One day the public service vehicle he drove broke down, forcing him to go home earlier than normal. He found the door to his house locked. He called his wife’s cell phone and it was off. He had not carried a spare key since he always found his wife at home. He was forced to wait outside not knowing where his wife and kids were.
His wife arrived home at around 8.00 p.m. and was surprised to find him waiting outside, since the earliest he ever got home was 9.00 p.m. She went to one of the neighbor’s houses and collected the children, who were already asleep.
It suddenly dawned on Charles that he had lost touch with his family. Where was his wife coming from at 8.00 p.m. yet she was a stay-at-home mom? What was going on?
Any effort to discuss the issue with his wife led to more tension between them. She would go quiet on him for several days. Peace of mind eluded him and he made up his mind that he would work on rebuilding his marriage. He took two days off to spend time with his family.
It was at that time that he discovered that his wife had started a small business of preparing some snacks and delivering to clients on order. He understood why he found her not at home when he arrived home unexpectedly.
Communication between them was difficult since they had drifted apart. Fitting him into her schedules was also not easy since she had become used to running her life without any input from him.
Rekindling The Spark in The Marriage
Charles made up his mind that his family was too important to lose. He opted not to be working over the weekends so that he could spend time with his family.
Spending Saturdays and Sundays together transformed the overall mood in the family. He and his wife would work on the business together. He would sometimes make some deliveries for her or take care of the children while she made the deliveries.
Their relationship was on the mend. He was able to catch up with his children’s development and they sometimes would play games together. The boys really enjoyed time spent with daddy.
As he and his wife worked together, they got ideas about ways to grow and expand the business. They gradually introduced different food items and got orders to deliver lunch and snacks to a few offices.
The growth in the business encouraged Charles and he decided to help his wife in its expansion. They worked together to open a business page on Facebook as well as an Instagram account. He helped her to take photos of every dish she prepared, which they posted on Instagram and Facebook.
Three years down the road their business had expanded and they had employed two casual employees to work with them. Charles still continued with his job as a public service vehicle driver but no longer works weekends.
Too Busy For The Family
I do come across cases of people who are too busy for their families. They lack balance in life, with their work and other activities outside the home taking up most of their time.
Lack of balance has a negative impact on a relationship and on the family as a whole. When it comes to relationships, out of sight out of mind does have some relevance. A relationship is not all about provision.
I say it time and again that a woman does not get married because she was sleeping outside on pavements and eating from garbage heaps such that she was looking for someone to meet her basic needs.
The longing to connect with another person in the union called marriage is much more than provision. One is looking for a friend to share life’s journey with, a companion, a life partner, someone to bounce ideas on and so much more.
If a marriage partner’s contribution in the relationship is only provision and nothing else, then a vacuum is created and it can be filled by anything or anyone.
Man easily get into this trap of lacking the work-life balance and end up neglecting their families as they work hard to provide. It also does happen to some women especially those who have demanding jobs.
An individual who is lonely day in day out because the spouse is forever working and never available is likely to fill that vacuum gradually with other activities or relationships. This might take the form of getting into the company of friends (popularly known as the boys or the girls) for purposes of socialization and sharing ideas.
With time, that individual’s life can revolve around other people and gradually they drift apart with the spouse and they become strangers to each other. This contributes to infidelity in marriages and should be avoided at all costs.
A spouse should remain a friend, a companion and a life partner. Channels of communication should remain open at all times if the marriage is to enjoy a strong foundation.
A vacuum that is left by a parent who is too busy for the family does impact children’s lives negatively too. Children need supervision, guidance and role modelling and when a parent neglects to be present in their lives, they too can end up filling that vacuum with something or someone else, which can have disastrous results. Some children fall into bad company and end up in habits such as crime or substance abuse.
Some people believe that people who have a lot of money are unhappy and unfulfilled in their lives, that their lives revolves around chasing money. That is not necessarily true. It is not about either having much money or not but about living a balanced life.
There are people whose lives revolve around earning money they miss out in everything else including the important relationships in their lives. This is not confined to people who have much money. In fact it affects a lot of people who struggle to make ends meet.
Anyone can lack work-life balance including those whose earnings are meager and can barely make ends meet.
Create Work-Life Balance in 5 Simple Steps
1. Take Care of Yourself
It is rather unfortunate that human beings tend to take care of items they buy such as cars, computers, houses and phones; more than they take care of their bodies. Probably it is because the body is given to us for free so we do not realize it’s true worth.
Remember that the body you live in is the only one you’ve got. If you do not take good care of it and it breaks down, there is no replacement, no spare parts. There are spare parts for the car or computer but not for the human body. You are careful not to drive your car over potholes. Take good care of your body too.
Eat healthy every day. A healthy diet will give you the energy you need to be productive and also keep you in a good mood. Incorporate physical activity into your daily activities. This will keep your body functioning properly and also help your mood.
Keep the body hydrated by drinking enough water spread out throughout the day. Get adequate sleep and rest. Make time for family and for recreational activities.
2. Set Clear Goals for Your Life
Begin with the end in mind. What kind of life do you want to have? Do you want to get married? Get children? What sort of lifestyle do you want for your family? Is family important to you or is your career all that matters? What do you want to achieve in life? Do you want to contribute to society? How will you achieve that? Will you volunteer? What is important to you? Clarity helps with prioritizing.
Life should not just happen to you; you should choose the life you desire for yourself and your family and put in the work to build it. Anything that is not planned for easily gets forgotten so live your life according to plan.
Do not live like a victim of circumstances. Setting clear goals helps to give you direction in life.
3. Do Not Depend on One Stream of Income
A job rarely ever pays enough for one’s needs. Some push themselves harder and harder in an effort to earn something extra. A good example is the public service driver who will put in more and more hours every day in an effort to earn more.
The reality is that the extra income from such efforts is not usually something to write home about yet it takes one away from the family and creates problems that might be long term.
Be open minded when it comes to work and the way you earn income. Learn new things constantly, whether they are related to your job or not.
The more efficient you will become as you discover better ways to get your job done, the more time you will be able to save. You will also discover alternative ways to earn income that could ease the pressure of trying to earn income from one source.
4. Plan Carefully
Unemployment has hit an all time high, putting many in a point of desperation to accept and hold on to whatever jobs come their way whether they are satisfying or not. A fulfilled person is likely to make a supportive spouse and parent, so job satisfaction does have an impact on the family life.
Do not feel like a victim when it comes to work and career. You have skills, talents and hobbies that you can transform into streams of income. Choose the line of work that gives you satisfaction and enables you to live a balanced life, even if it means sacrificing a career you trained for. If you really need the job you have as you are not yet financially stable, try not to push yourself to work harder and harder at the job.
Be well organized in order to improve efficiency. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to evaluate your performance for the day and plan for the next day. Use a diary and a daily-to-do-list to help you prioritize and ensure efficient use of your time.
Diversify your sources of income in order to take the pressure away from performance on that job.
5. Do Not Be a Lone Ranger
The entire burden of providing for your family does not need to fall on your shoulders. Look around at the people around you. There are skills and talents that people around you bring on board and that can free some time for you if harnessed.
Do you have members of the extended family who are dependent on you? Is your spouse out of job? Are your children old enough to assist with some tasks?
How can these people be empowered to become productive so that they reduce the burden on you? Are there some responsibilities that they can shoulder on your behalf? Are there alternative sources of income that you can establish and involve them such that the burden on you is reduced?
Look creatively at all the resources at your disposal including human resources. Create a strong support network for yourself. Do not give people around you the impression that you can handle everything.
Let them know about your struggles and challenges so that they can support you and make your burdens lighter.
Living a balanced life is important for long term fulfillment and well being. It is important to assess your life and be honest with yourself how well you are doing in terms of balance. Make a conscious decision to attain work-life balance. Life is not all work.
Remember the saying that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and purpose not to become a dull individual. Make a decision to bring change in your life and constantly re-assess yourself to ensure that you remain on track.
Do not fear risk if you want to build a successful life in the long run.Be open to pushing the limits and getting out of your comfort zone. After all you only live once.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, life coach, mentor, motivational speaker, freelancer and blogger.
Financial Independence Africa
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