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The balancing act - Women's Fair program to focus on how to juggle family, career

October 09, 1997

The balancing act

Women's Fair program to focus on how to juggle family, career

By TERI JOHNSON

Staff Writer

Imagine you're holding a full pitcher of water at the beginning of the workday. As the hours wear on, you pour some out for your boss, co-workers and everyone else you encounter.

When you get home, you pour out more for your spouse, children, parents, neighbors and friends.

Is it any wonder you feel drained when you finally drop into bed?

Assuring there is some water left for yourself is the key to coping with the stresses of juggling a job and family, says Emily Hobby, training director at Western Maryland Child Resource Center in Hagerstown.

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"It's extremely hard to find precious time for ourselves, but that's what we must do," Hobby says.

As part of the 1997 Washington County Women's Fair Saturday, Oct. 18, Hobby will present the seminar "Balancing Work and Family: Stress Management."

The fair begins at 9 a.m. at Frostburg State University's Hagerstown campus at 20 Public Square. Displays from area businesses, nonprofit agencies and educational facilities will be featured, and workshops on the educational, personal, professional and financial needs of women begin at 10 a.m.

Raising a family while working outside the home can cause tremendous pressure, Hobby says.

"You're taking two full-time jobs and trying to squeeze them into one full-time job," she says.

Managing stress

The three A's of stress management are to accept what you have no control over, to avoid stress by walking away from it and to alter the situation to make it less stressful, says Hobby, 44.

She offers the following advice:

* Take 15 minutes between work and family time to unwind.

Cuddle with your child, have a healthy snack together or walk the dog.

While you're opening the mail, listen to music.

* Every week, do something you enjoy.

Set aside some time for a hobby or to visit with friends.

Recharge with a manicure, exercise, bubble bath or a nap.

* Rethink the "shoulds" in your life.

Assess your situation to see if you're being realistic in what you can accomplish, and determine what causes you stress. If you believe you're being pulled in too many directions, learn to say no.

"When expectations become too great, and we can't meet the goals we've set, then we feel guilty," Hobby says.

During her workshops, Hobby asks participants to describe the greatest stresses in their lives, then she offers them chocolate.

* Establish routines.

A little organization the night before goes a long way. Watch the weather forecast, and have children lay out their clothes for the next day.

Pack lunches, except for sandwiches, the night before so you won't be so pressured in the morning.

* Rely on a calendar.

Hobby, a divorced mother of three who lives with her mother, Juanita Gliniak, in Hagerstown, uses a calendar to coordinate their five schedules. On Sunday nights they plan activities for the week.

That way Hobby's 15-year-old twins, Matthew and Meghan, and her 12-year-old, Ashleigh, also know her schedule.

Write down special events, such as a concert, in advance so you can plan accordingly.

* Barter your services.

If you make a great cheesecake, find someone who will fix your leaky faucet in exchange.

Offer to watch a friend's child, and in turn she can care for yours on another occasion. If you baby-sit every other month, that gives you six free evenings a year.

"Don't be embarrassed to ask others for help and support," Hobby says.

* Use humor whenever you can.

When times are rough, remember that these stages aren't permanent.

Instead, concentrate on making some lasting memories.

"Children do grow up in spite of us. We need to stop and enjoy all the time we have with them," Hobby says.

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