In October, we celebrate National Work and Family Month, a time to prioritize doing what one loves and caring for others. You can do this by caring for yourself or making quality time for your loved ones. In some cases, it could mean starting or growing a family according to your own schedule.
Nowadays, though, many workers do not have the luxury of balancing their family’s needs, particularly those related to health and caregiving. Workers must choose between paying their bills and providing for their families in times of need, due to the lack of supportive policies.
Furthermore, many workers, especially those who earn a low wage, suffer from attendance policies that punish them for taking time off work to take care of their care needs, as well as rigid or unpredictable scheduling practices that make it challenging to plan for their lives outside of work.
And that’s a shame — to put it mildly.
The Importance of Spending Time With Your Family
“As the nation’s biomedical research agency, we are committed to improving health for all Americans,” says Dr. Francis Collins, Former NIH Director. “Science has shown that our family relationships have an important effect on our physical well-being.”
Anita Vangelisti, a professor at the University of Texas and editor of the Handbook of Family Communication, writes, “Communication is what creates families. When family members communicate, they do more than send messages to each other — they enact their relationships.”
The best way to support our families is through good communication, Vangelisti says. Support systems can break down if families don’t communicate.
Vangelisti says family members can receive help in many different ways, including:
- Emotional support
- Esteem support
- Network support
- Informational support
- Tangible support
Now that you know just how important family ties are, let’s ensure you make that happen.
How to Observe National Work and Family Month
In the United States, October is National Work and Family Month. It’s an opportunity to recognize both work and family responsibilities in our lives and to support policies and practices that help employees balance them.
Observing NWFM at individual and organizational levels is possible in several ways. The following ideas may be helpful:
Educate yourself and others about the importance of work-family balance.
The web and libraries are full of information about work-family balance. Don’t hesitate to pass these resources on to your colleagues, friends, and family.
Be realistic about your expectations.
It is impossible to achieve a perfect work-life balance. At times, you’ll need to put in extra effort or work longer hours. However, you and your family should find a balance that’s right for you.
Prioritize your tasks.
You should make a list of all your tasks and prioritize them. Focusing on the most critical tasks will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
Do not hesitate to delegate tasks if you are able to do so. As a result, you will have more time to devote to the things that matter most to you.
Communicate with your employer and family.
Make sure your employer knows you value work-life balance and are dedicated to your work. Keeping your family informed about your work schedule and commitments will help them understand and support you. Creating and maintaining a shared family calendar is the fastest and easiest way to go about it.
Be sure to schedule time for self-care.
You must make time for yourself despite your busy schedule and family obligations. It may involve relaxing, taking a break, or spending time with loved ones.
Don’t miss out on work-family benefits.
There are a lot of employers who offer work-family benefits, including flexible work arrangements, paid family leave, and childcare assistance. Make sure you take advantage of these benefits if your employer offers them.
Take advantage of flexible work arrangements.
You may be able to take advantage of flexible work arrangements at your employer, including telecommuting or compressed workweeks. You will be able to manage your work and family commitments more effectively this way.
Set boundaries between work and home life.
The two should be separated clearly, even though it can be difficult. In order to do this, specific work hours could be set, emails or messages should not be checked outside of work hours, and breaks should be taken during working hours.
To celebrate National Work and Family Month, you can also do the following with your family:
- Have a family meeting. Come up with a plan for spending time together for the month based on everyone’s schedules and commitments.
- Create a family calendar. You can keep track of everyone’s appointments and activities with a calendar app.
- Plan a family outing. Visit a museum, enjoy a picnic, or go to the park.
- Play games together. Having fun while playing games with your family is a great way to bond.
- Cook dinner together. Your children will learn a lot about cooking, and you will spend quality time together.
- Read stories together. You can spend quality time with your family by reading stories together.
- Just talk. Simply talking to your family is one of the best ways to connect. Take the time to discuss your day, hopes, and dreams each day.
Overall, this is a great time of year to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of work and family in our lives.
- Offer flexible work arrangements. A flexible work schedule and compressed workweek can help employees balance their work and personal lives.
- Host a work-life balance workshop or seminar for your employees. Inviting a speaker or consultant who can discuss how to achieve work-life balance may be helpful.
- Create a work-life balance resource center for your employees. Employees could receive work-life balance books, articles, and other resources.
- Offer your employees a “work-life balance day” off. On this day, employees can relax and spend time with their families without worrying about work.
- Sponsor a team-building event for your employees and their families. It may involve going to a theme park, having a picnic, or playing sports together.
- Provide child care assistance. For working parents, child care can be a significant expense. Employees can benefit from on-site child care and childcare subsidies provided by their employers.
- Offer paid parental leave. Parents who take paid parental leave are able to bond with their newborns and adjust to parenthood without having to worry about losing their jobs.
- Donate to a charity that supports work-life balance. The charity may help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance by providing childcare assistance, eldercare assistance, or other services.
- Promote a culture of work-life balance. Employers can promote a culture of work-life balance by taking breaks, leaving work on time, and taking vacations and sick leave.
The following are some additional ideas for celebrating National Work and Family Month:
- Host a work-family event at your company. Examples could be a potluck lunch or a family fun day.
- Start a work-family club at your company. A work-family club could provide employees with a supportive environment to discuss challenges and share resources relating to work-family conflicts.
- Volunteer for a cause that supports work-family balance. Several organizations are promoting work-family balance. These organizations can benefit from your time and talent by volunteering.
- Advocate for policies that support work-family balance. You can contact your elected officials if you support policies that simplify work-life balance.
Regardless of how you observe NWFM, encouraging people to achieve work-life balance and raise awareness is the most important thing. People are happier, healthier, and more productive when their work and family lives are balanced.
What is National Work and Family Month?
Every October, National Work and Family Month raises awareness of the importance of work and family. As part of its efforts to promote healthier and more flexible work environments, the U.S. Senate established this month in 2003. Employers are reminded of the benefits of supporting work-life programs through the campaign.
Why is National Work and Family Month important?
Employers and employees should strive for a healthy work-life balance. Work-life balance results in more productive, engaged, and satisfied employees.
For employers, offering flexible work arrangements and other support can reduce absenteeism and turnover and improve morale and productivity.
In addition to the above benefits, a healthy work-family balance can also:
- Reduce stress
- Improve physical and mental health
- Increase employee retention
What are some common work-life balance challenges?
The following are some common challenges to work-life balance:
- Working long hours
- A lack of flexibility in work arrangements
- Overwhelming workload
- Toxic work culture
- Unrealistic expectations
- Employer or family support is lacking
How can I celebrate National Work and Family Month?
You can celebrate National Work and Family Month in a variety of ways. A few ideas are listed below:
- Talk to your employer about your work-life balance needs. Ask your employer for help balancing your work and personal lives if you need it.
- Set boundaries between your work and personal life. In other words, you shouldn’t check work emails or texts after work hours or take work home.
- Take advantage of your employer’s flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flextime, or compressed workweeks.
- Spending time with your family and friends should be a priority. Spend regular time with your family and friends; while you’re with them, don’t be distracted by your phone.
- Take care of yourself. Keep your body and mind healthy by sleeping enough, eating nutritious foods, and exercising regularly.
Image Credit: Gustavo Fring; Pexels; Thank you!