• Author:Ben Jones
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Getting the balance right is a team effort

Miss J and I did our bit this morning to prove that “life is a beach”. We spent a couple of hours on our local, stunning beach at Ainsdale. A combination of building (and destroying) sand castles, going on a bear hunt up and down the sand dunes (anyone with a child under 10 will surely know that reference) and having a picnic seemed to make up for Dad drenching my little person in suncream and as result attracting every grain of sand on the beach to stick to her arms and face! We toiled away in the sunshine enjoying ourselves royally while Mrs J took her leave for her weekly “me time” in the bustling shops of Liverpool.

We are lucky we live so close to such a lovely beach and a great city – although it was a factor (a small one) in our decision to buy our current house. But we are not lucky in making the most of the opportunities that the location provides. We work at it and work as a team.

I am not saying that our way is the only way of achieving a great life-work balance (I always try to think of the words in that order – life should come before work) or saying we have done it perfectly – but we have a few things we do each week to help us:

  • Every Sunday I go through the diary for the week ahead and talk it through with Mrs J – the key is to ensure that there is space each day for some downtime – whether that’s away from work (i.e. time away from the desk) or in work downtime (e.g. time to read, reflect etc)
  • The diary review also helps us makes sure we have the best scheduling of work and meetings as well as any appointments for home stuff (odd jobs and the like) – the key for us to to avoid undue stress and overbooking or over-committing ourselves – the aim is to keep the week as calm, organised and balanced as possible
  • We do our weekly shopping online – spending 60-90 minutes a week in the supermarket (including travel time) is time best spent enjoying life not fighting over trolleys
  • Mrs J does the bulk of the nursery runs but I try to find one or two days a week that I can get involved – that is great for Miss J, she loves the variety; for me, getting to spend time with my little bundle of wonder; and, for Mrs J, getting some brief extra time to herself
  • We try to eat together – at breakfast (every day) and lunch and dinner (most days) – this is time to be together as a family but also cooking dinner at the same time makes better use of time – not two lots of cooking, two lots of time stood in the kitchen
  • Mrs J and I make time every week to go out on our own for breakfast/coffee twice a week
  • I play golf (ahem, a few times a week – as often as I can) and every week – the day differs from week to week – Aileen takes some time to herself and I have Miss J  for the day. We do a whole variety of things from beach to museums to just taking it easy at home and in the garden.

There are others things that I do to help me stay well and focused on my welling  – I feel a further post on this (including my no social media after 9pm rule! )- but overall our approach is to organise our week as a team, making sure we link everything together – with no surprises and as little double-booking and overlapping as possible.

There is no rocket science in any of this and I’m sure lots of people have their own version of this routine but for us it is significant and it works. We know the cost of working too hard and of not getting the balance right before – in the days before Miss J we definitely didn’t get the words in the right order. Now, it’s different. But only because we work together to make it happen.

As no doubt this year of blogging will prove, maintaining the balance is a ongoing effort, but we have a plan and pleasingly it often involves beaches and suncream.


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