Work Life Balance

Work life balance is the holy grail for working parents. How can you achieve a better balance? What are other parents doing to reach the ideal status quo? Hear from working mums on the importance of a work life balance, flexible working and career ideas to support to you.

Achieving a good balance between your career and your home life is a priority for most people, but once you have children you start to feel this need even more strongly.

It’s very common for parents to feel that they are underperforming for their children because of work; or underperforming at work because of their children. But it is possible to get the best of both worlds. What that looks like is very personal to us all. Read on for an insight into the options and what could work for you.

What is work life balance?

Professionals first started talking about work-life balance in the late 1970s – and clearly it’s not something that we’ve solved, even 40 years on. The definition of work life balance is ‘achieving a personally acceptable balance between life at work and life outside of work’.

There’s no magic formula for work life balance and it doesn’t mean you should have the same number of hours in work and outside of work. What seems like the right balance will change as you reach different life stages, and is very much led by you, your interests, your career and what’s important to you.

How to achieve a good work life balance

Achieving the right balance involves some careful thinking. First, you need to work out what
good work-life balance would be for you. There’s a huge range of things that might affect
this, including:

  • Time with the children. If you want to be around for your child more, what does that mean? Does it mean doing the school or nursery run more often? Having a full day at home each week with your child? Or being at home after school/childcare ends? If you’re a shift worker, could it mean changing your patterns to be around at weekends?
  • Time for jobs at home. You might feel that all your spare hours are spent on chores, which affects family time. By changing your hours or working from home, perhaps you could tackle some of these jobs while the children are at school or childcare.
  • Time for others. Many of us care for a relative or pursue important unpaid work – making time for this is often a challenge.
  • Time for you. Many busy parents miss out on time for their own interests and hobbies. It’s perfectly possible to prioritise ‘me-time’ if you need it.

You need to identify exactly what sort of a working pattern would help you feel you have created a good balance.

Flexible working options for a better work life balance

Once you have a clear picture of what a better work life balance means to you, it’s time to make it happen. It’s likely that some form of flexible working could deliver what you need.

There are many options you could consider:

  • Going part time. Where you formally request a move to part time working.
  • Changing part time hours. Making changes to your existing part time job.
  • Job sharing. Two people split the working week between them to perform a single role.
  • Working from home. Doing some or all of your work from home or other locations.
  • Compressed hours. Having a longer working day, but working fewer days in a week.
  • Flexitime. Deciding when you’ll be at work – usually including some ‘core hours’ such as
    10am to 4pm.
  • Annualised hours. Working a certain number of hours over the year, with flexibility about
    when you work.
  • Staggered hours. Having different start and finish times compared with your colleagues.

Every employee has the right to request flexible working. You do this in a letter to your manager, and the company must give the request serious consideration. The more information you can include about how the work could still be done on a flexible basis, the better your chances.

Bear in mind that it can take a long time to receive an answer to your request. It can be declined if there are good business reasons behind the decision.

For that reason, some people choose to leave their current role in favour of a more flexible job. It’s increasingly easy to find part-time or home-based roles, with companies recognising that flexibility is important to so many people. It’s also accepted today that flexible workers can be equally productive, if not more so, than full-time, office-based colleagues.

Many online jobs boards will now enable you to search for part-time or home-based jobs.

Improving your work life balance by starting a business or franchise

Another option for how get work/life balance is to look at starting your own business. Many feel that self-employment offers the careers with the best work life balance. Perhaps you have an idea for a start-up business, or you could retrain as a trader or professional. It could be that you could do your job as a freelancer or contractor.

See also:

In looking at self-employment to get a balance between work and life, make sure you consider the implications. For example, getting a mortgage or loan can be more difficult if you’re self-employed and you’ll be responsible for paying into your own pension. You might also lose valuable work benefits.

Of course, the biggest risk in self-employment is that your income is likely to be unpredictable – and if it’s a brand new business you might not make much money in the early months.

But, if you’re certain that self-employment is the right path for work life balance, you could consider franchising. features hundreds of franchise opportunities of all kinds. These are proven businesses, where you buy a licence to open up a new branch in your local area. A big advantage is that you get lots of support and expertise from the franchisee. For ideas and more details, take a look at our franchise pages.

Whatever achieving work life balance means for you, there will be a way to make it happen. Don’t underestimate the importance of work life balance – your health and wellbeing could benefit greatly from getting it right.

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