Commute in traffic. Spill coffee on lap. Answer barrage of emails. Pick up kids from school. Fix dinner. Put everyone to bed. Don’t break a sweat. That pretty much sums up the stressful life of today’s working parents.
Unfortunately, research indicates that parental stress and children’s behavior problems often have a mutually escalating relationship. And with the rise of stress in America, finding ways to balance work and family life is now more important than ever. Thank goodness that balance is possible for working parents. Here are four achievable strategies to try now:
1. Use Smart Technology
Artificial intelligence (AI) has made many of today’s tasks easier and more streamlined for working parents. The Roomba adapts to surroundings and cleans floors while you’re at work or asleep. Amazon and Netflix suggest items for families to buy or watch based on preferences and shopping patterns so you spend less time browsing. A smart thermostat like the Nest adjusts a home’s temperature based on the weather outside and the family’s daily habits to save energy.
Virtual reality (VR) sharing is the next step in smart technology for busy parents. Enhanced visual quality, sound quality and intuitive interactions allow users to fully immerse themselves in another experience. A 5G network made possible by the Qualcomm AI platform could enable mobile VR sharing in real time, so mom can truly experience her son’s soccer tournament even while she’s away at a work conference.
2. Go Easy with Groceries
Instead of spending prime weeknight time navigating the grocery aisles, parents can order groceries online. Use Walmart’s new grocery pickup service to order groceries ahead of time while the kids are in bed. Reserve a time to pick them up the next day and, when you show up, allow the customer service associate to load them in the trunk while you check messages from your smartphone.
Families with Amazon Prime membership can easily order groceries and household items online instead of visiting the grocery or drug store. With Subscribe and Save, families with young children can save 20 percent on diapers. Hello, you save on time, money and fuel!
3. Embrace Quiet Time
Quiet time is not just for toddlers. Parents also need a little time to sort through their mental space. In fact, a study led by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers found that practicing mindfulness meditation for an average of 27 minutes per day actually changes the structure of a person’s brain after only eight weeks and makes them more aware, empathetic and less stressed.
More empathetic parents are much less likely to blow up at their 4-year-old’s Legos scattered all over the kitchen floor and instead embrace the chaotic adventure of their lives with a little more perspective. Carve out time for a few minutes of meditation during your lunch break, in the car after arriving at work or home or in the shower when the only noise is water running off your shoulders.
4. Set Boundaries But Blur Them
While boundaries like no screens during dinner are important for family communication and bonding, recent research concludes that integrating work and family life may be beneficial. This is because employees who impose strict work-life boundaries on themselves experience greater stress from big cognitive role transitions.
The logic is that when you expect yourself to be a star employee from 8 am to 5 pm and supermom from 5 pm to 9 pm, you will inevitably forget your son’s piano recital or your boss’s birthday. With a little flexibility such as taking personal calls at work or perfecting a presentation at home, you can be more productive and less stressed.