11 Undeniable Signs That Work-Life Balance Isn't Getting Easier for Parents

Finding a good work-life balance can be challenging under normal circumstances and has become even more difficult in recent years.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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It’s been a tough few years for parents who have been trying to balance work with child care, school, and other activities. But while restrictions may be easing, raising kids during a pandemic can still be difficult for many working parents, especially if you're trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

If you’re just trying to get through the day, you may not see the signs that your balancing act isn’t working. So, if you can find some time, take a step back and see if you have any of these worrying signs that your work-life balance isn’t getting any easier.

You’re doing work outside of normal hours

Syda Productions/Adobe man with laptop and coffee working at night office

Are you finding yourself working late at night or getting up before everyone else in the house to get work in? It may be a sign that your work-life balance is out of whack.

Instead, start setting some boundaries for both your work and home life. Make it clear to both your co-workers and those in your home that you’re setting a specific time for work and home, and do your best not to deviate from those boundaries.

You aren’t getting enough sleep

andriano_cz/Adobe Woman in bed covering ears with pillow because of noise

Fitness trackers that you can wear at night may be telling you something you already know: You aren’t sleeping. That could affect your work and your home life, and it could also cause problems for your health as well.

You may want to try a different nighttime routine to help you sleep, avoid using a screen before bed, or calm yourself with controlled breathing before your head hits the pillow.

Your daycare costs most of your take-home pay

oksix/Adobe educational group activity at the kindergarten

Inflation is affecting gas prices and groceries as well as other services like daycare. If you’re just working to pay for daycare, perhaps it may be a good idea to reduce your money stress by finding a different option.

If possible, maybe you could take some time off or find a better way to make money and handle daycare options.

You’re not productive

Igor/Adobe Man doing laundry at home

You may be on the clock to work for a certain number of hours, but are you actually working during those hours?

You may find you’re getting distracted with home issues or simply can’t focus because while trying to juggle so many things in your life.

You have health issues

DimaBerlin/Adobe female overworked and stressed sit at desk with closed laptop

Emotional stress can cause physical problems or mental stress. Try not to be afraid to call in sick for a mental health day or to seek medical treatment if your stress levels are manifesting themselves by affecting your physical health.

You have added work responsibilities

stokkete/Adobe Angry stressed secretary shouting at customers on the phone

If you work from home or an office, you may be getting additional work responsibilities due to a smaller staff or new projects. Those extra responsibilities may not come with extra support from your staff or extra support at home.

But your co-workers or family may not realize how much extra work you’ve taken on. Asking for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed to get your workload back in balance is one of the smartest money moves you can make.

You feel like you can’t say “no”

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe Woman wearing a high visibility vest and holding a stop sign

You may be asked several questions throughout the day about work or home. Can you take on an extra work project? Can you volunteer at school?

Trying to do your job as best you can may make you feel like you have to say yes to every request. Instead, find ways to delegate work to others or prioritize requests.

Your personal relationships are suffering

Nattanon/Adobe business people conflict problem

When was the last time you went out for drinks with friends or on a date with your spouse? It can be hard to prioritize personal adult relationships when you’re struggling with your relationships with your kids or co-workers. Finding time for you might be difficult, but it could be an important part of not burning out.

Your costs are going up

ifeelstock/Adobe Italian Eni gas station

Gas prices could take an extra bite out of your budget if you’re driving from work to home to kids' activities and back again. Or your office may expect you to pick additional work without additional benefits.

You can boost your bank account by setting up a budget that you can reliably stick with each month. Also remember that if you’re taking on more work, you should ask for a raise or be willing to change jobs for a higher income.

You eat at your desk

skumer/Adobe business woman eating burger with coffee at the workplace in office

Eating lunch or dinner at your desk is an easy habit to fall into, but it could be a sign that you’re not managing your work-life balance.

Prioritize time to sit and eat away from your computer screen. And if you and your kids are all at home, think about setting up a “lunch date” with your children to give them some of your undivided time away from job-related tasks.

You don’t have flexibility

New Africa/ADOBE  business supplies and sport equipment

Do you feel like you can’t have your kids in activities or watch them at sporting events because of your work responsibilities? It can be hard to hit a deadline while also setting aside time to be a parent, so check with your office and see if they can offer you some flexibility with your schedule to help you balance your work and life priorities.

You feel overwhelmed

stokkete/Adobe Stressed businessman overwhelmed by work

The list of things that need to get done at work and at home just isn’t getting finished. That list has the potential to make things worse and not better.

Try to take a step back, assess what’s on your plate, and see if you can share the workload. And remember to ask for a day off if you just need some time to yourself to catch up on all your tasks.

Bottom line

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Black family spending time together

Finding that perfect balance between work and home is a challenge for anyone. And sometimes, you may not be able to achieve that balance.

But learning ways to ease the burden on yourself can lead to more productive work at the office and more quality time spent with your family at home.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.