Experiencing the ‘Culture Shock’ of Family Life

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After a working week, family life can be a culture shock explains Helen Letchfield

30th May-5th June was National Family Week in the UK, which is all about taking time out to celebrate quality family time together. However, many parents can find it difficult to do this when they still have to find the elusive balance between family and work life.

Half‑term weeks and school holidays make childcare even more challenging to sort out if you are planning on working, so maybe this is one of those times when it’s just a good idea to take a bit of time off? Making the transition between the working week and the family at home, however, isn’t always that easy.

Life at work

Scheduled
Mentally stressful
Focused on yourself
Monitored,
under review
Fast-paced

Life at home

Unstructured
Physically tiring
Focused on your children first
Parenting can largely
be a thankless task!
Slow-paced, especially with babies and toddlers

Consider the Two Worlds of Work and Family

The worlds are clearly very different, so making that cultural shift from life at work to the dynamics of a family unit can be stressful sometimes. So how do you manage the transition to make sure you have enjoyable family time?

Consider the change in environments and recognise that you will need time to adjust. Start to wind down on the commute home and then do whatever you need to de-stress before you spend time with the family – take a bath, go to the gym or get some fresh air.

Children also need time to get used to their change in routine as holidays commence. Change in routines from nursery, pre-school or school to daily home life need a little time to accommodate. Children can be overwhelmed and excited by both parents or other family members being around, so keep the days simple and slow. Don’t try to pack in too much and keep to the same eating and sleeping patterns where possible.

Switch off completely from work. Sneaky peeks at your Blackberry are really tempting, but you won’t achieve anything except reminding yourself of your work stresses.

Don’t try to be the perfect parent, attempting to over-compensate for time spent at work. Children don’t have to be continuously taken out for expensive and sometimes chaotic day trips. Just being together at home, doing simple tasks together (baking, washing the car, gardening, cleaning) can strengthen your relationship and create happy memories just as much as going out.

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About Author

Helen Letchfield

Helen Letchfield is Co-Founder and Principal Facilitator for Parenting for Professionals . As a qualified performance coach, Helen works with parents and parents-to-be to offer support through the challenge of creating a home/work balance. She has 12 years experience in coaching and developing corporate clients, and has worked for Barclays Wealth, Credit Suisse, Canon and Harrods. She is a working mum to 2 boys aged 6 and 3. Parenting for Professionals supports parents at work through its in‑depth Maternity Coaching Programme, as well as one‑to‑one coaching.

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