Having a family is a lot of work, there’s no doubt about it. Having a family and trying to balance a career, household responsibilities, extracurricular activities, and a social life may seem like a daunting task. Though many parents struggle with what it means to balance everything out, it’s all about organization and good planning. Learning that early on can make your life less chaotic and more enjoyable.

Planning out your day helps you to prioritize and to go after what must be done each day. This may seem like a rather large effort at first, but as you learn to incorporate organization and planning into each day you will come to rely upon it. Taking just a few minutes at the end of each day to think through the next day will keep you going.

This will also help you to accomplish the balance that so many parents have difficulties achieving. Here is how you make planning your new best friend and achieve that balance that every parent strives for—it really can work!

Remember to Prioritize and To Focus On What’s Really Important

Here’s the thing—you can’t get everything done in one day and it’s just unrealistic to think so. You can get to the higher priorities and that’s what you have to work towards if you hope to make each day productive and enjoyable. There are things that absolutely MUST happen in order to keep your job, your household, or your family going. Your job is to sort that out each night so that you know where your focus should lie.

At first this will seem almost impossible as you feel that EVERYTHING is essential, but you will learn to take this off in small bites. Take a look at everything that you list out and then figure out where the priority lies and what can wait for a day or two. This is a really great way of thinking through your day and figuring out what to go after and what you can hold off on for a bit.

Think Through The NEEDS vs. WANTS

In the end it all boils down to the needs and the wants, and this goes hand in hand with prioritization. Your boss may need you to do some reports for the end of the week and so that ranks high as a priority. He may want you to attend a dinner with colleagues, but this isn’t mandatory and is therefore sure to fall off the list if it conflicts with a previously scheduled family commitment.

Your child may want you to be at their school pep rally but you may have to determine if this is where you can afford the time to be. Though you want to be at everything when it comes to them, sometimes it’s about focusing on where you can really make it work best. So perhaps you swap things out and are sure to be at their soccer game and their school party instead.

This trade off of need vs. want helps you to figure out where the true balance lies. Sometimes it’s a bit more grey than black and white, but this exercise also forces you to say no to the things that aren’t really as important. Think about what you need to do to keep your family going and to make the balance work, and then move your way down the list from there—this is how you achieve true family and work life balance!

Know That You Can’t Do Everything But Work Towards Balance In Every Sense

Stop beating yourself up when you can’t accomplish every single thing in a day. Give yourself some space and know that it’s okay if you can’t get to everything in a day. Do your very best to plan for the day ahead, but do recognize that some flexibility will be essential. If a child gets sick, a work emergency comes up, or you have to be in a different place than anticipated then just roll with it and do your very best.

Planning will help you to keep apprised of what is going on and ensure that organization is yours for the taking. You will be amazed at how much more you can get accomplished in a day and therefore the balance comes much more naturally. Be diligent about your planning efforts and then learn to stay focused on what’s really important so that you find your true balance—this will make you and every around you much happier in the end!