Get up, rush to school, take a few tests, practice for a choir concert, stay after school for sports, go to a guitar lesson, squeeze in homework between dinner and bedtime. Sleep, wake up and repeat. Many kids these days have nonstop schedules like this. The hope — usually of their parents — is that hard work before, during and after school will pay off in the long run.
But there needs to be a balance. Kids have to understand the benefits of both working hard and taking time to relax and enjoy life. This is something that parents can help them learn. Find out how from eight parents who have successfully taught their children healthy work-life balance lessons.
Work Is Important
Play is important for children’s development, but kids also need to be taught the value of hard work. Debt relief attorney Leslie Tayne said she believes in leading by example to teach this lesson to her children. “I have always explained to my children that, ‘Mommy goes to work and she loves you and thinks about you during her day, but it’s important that mommy works for our family,’” Tayne said.
She said she has explained to her children what benefits the family gets because she works, and they have benefited from watching her build a business. “They know work is important to me, as is my family time with them,” Tayne said. “That’s something I hope they’ve taken away from the example I’ve set. You can work hard and build a good reputation for yourself, but also have time to do the things you enjoy, like spending time with your family. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
Work Can Be Fun
There’s probably not a parent out there who hasn’t been met with resistance from their kids when they’ve asked them to do work around the house. But parents might be able to get a different reaction if they help their kids develop the right mindset about work.
Peter Koch, founder of the blog Seller at Heart, said he recently taught his children that work can be fun, by building a dog house with them. They planned the design, bought the lumber, then built the dog house from the ground up while playing and working, he said.
“Actually, the whole idea is to show that hard work doesn’t have to be that hard,” Koch said. “It is all about the mindset. Work as play, play is fun, play is what we want to do.” And when the dog house was complete, he and his kids were proud of what they had built, he said.
You Can Prioritize Work and Play
It’s important for kids to learn from a young age about putting first things first. For example, when Andrew Herrig works from home on Fridays, his two young children constantly beg him to come and play. “I have to tell them that I am working right now, but as soon as it hits 5:00 I would love to play,” he said.
He lets them know that work is a priority but that they are, too, because he stops working when he tells them he will. “I think it’s important to show my kids that I work hard to provide for the family but that play time is also a priority,” said Herrig.
Do What You Need To Do and What You Love
Herrig is trying to teach his 3-year-old daughter about the importance of balancing doing what she enjoys with doing what needs to be done. He and his wife encourage her to practice her letters and numbers even though she doesn’t like it.
However, they balance out the requests for her to do things she doesn’t like with encouragement to do what she truly enjoys — artwork. “It’s a balance to get the work done she needs to do to be ready for kindergarten, while also learning to not push to the side the things she loves doing,” Herrig said.
Separate Work From Play
Miranda Marquit said it’s important for her to lead by example by showing her son how to separate work and play. That’s why she makes an effort not to let work distract her when she’s spending time with him.
For example, there are times when she has to work while they are on vacation, but she doesn’t let it interfere with their “play” time. “While we were on spring break this year, I did my work before we left the hotel room — and didn’t look at my email or mess with Twitter while we were enjoying ourselves,” said Marquit.