While work-life balance can be difficult in the civilian world, it’s even more complicated in the military sphere. Fortunately, a few strategies can help you strike a balance between family time and work obligations. Consider these helpful suggestions to make the most of your time.
Be Home When You’re Home
When you’re home, it’s important to make family commitments a priority. Simple things like sitting down to dinner together and attending your children’s school functions can help you keep family connections strong. Each week, find things to do with your kids, such as a hike, a trip to the bowling alley, or a movie and pizza at home. Even a small time investment goes a long way with children.
Staying present in the moment and assuring your family that you’re devoted to them during the time you have available is key. You’re a leader in your military role, and that leadership translates to your home life as well. Strive to take what you learn from your day job and apply it to your family commitments. Give them your undivided attention, and they will love you for it.
Make Decisions as a Family
Being a part of the military often means making tough decisions. Choosing between what is best for your family and what is best for your career isn’t always easy. Try to keep the mantra of “every career decision is a family decision” in mind when you’re unsure which path to take. Discuss all options with your spouse, and ensure your choices are compatible with your family. If you do that, you reduce the risk of regrets.
Keep Your Marriage Strong
Whether you find yourself on the front lines or behind the scenes, dedicating your career to the military is no easy task. And it isn’t always easy on your spouse, either. Being married to a service member can be hard, so make sure to get professional help if you and your spouse need it. A number of free marriage counseling options are available for service members.
If you just need to add more spark to your relationship, remember to choose each other daily and make time for each other — even if it’s just a simple chat before bed. The little things can go a long way while you’re in the service.
Take Care of Yourself
Remember, you can’t give to your family if you don’t tend to your own needs sometimes. Don’t forget to take a little “me” time when you need it. Go to the gym, meet a friend for lunch, pick up a latte, or browse your favorite store. If you burn yourself out at work or at home, then you could end up resentful of the time you spend there. It’s okay to get away for a few hours to recharge your own batteries.
Stay True to You
A military calling isn’t a sprint — it’s a marathon. If you run too fast, you won’t make it to the finish line. The last thing you want is to look back on your career and wish you had paced yourself and not let your personal and family life suffer. Don’t be afraid to turn down an assignment that doesn’t provide the time and space you need from your job. Although you may love being a part of the military, it doesn’t define you. Your uniform is removable, and you can be the best parent and spouse by keeping that in mind. If family time is what you want more of, then don’t be afraid to make that your top priority.
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