Caregivers form the backbone of support and assistance to children, elderly parents, family members with health conditions, individuals with disabilities and more.
Caregivers are also employees who are capable and skilled at working in jobs that match their skills and experience to fulfil their career aspirations and contribute to business growth.
However, caregivers often face discrimination at work that stems from the misconception about their abilities and label them as inefficient workers who are unable to prioritise work. In some cases, they may feel that they have to choose between work and their family caregiving responsibilities, which can lead to stress and financial hardships.
This blog post provides eight tips for family caregivers to navigate their workday effectively and achieve a better work-life balance for a stable financial safety net. With active communication, a flexible routine, setting the right boundaries, making time for themselves, delegating tasks, leveraging technology and staying focused, we hope that caregivers can effectively balance their professional responsibilities and personal duties.
8 caregiver’s guide to a healthier work-life balance
With urgent requests and piling work, we understand just how overwhelming caregiving and work duties can become. It's crucial to strike a balance that works for you and prioritises your well-being. Here are eight practical tips in taking a positive approach to caregiving:
1. create a (flexible) routine
Unlike others who can have a consistent and strict routine, you will need to adapt to a flexible schedule that works for you and to accommodate your dependents needs. You will need to adapt your work responsibilities in a way that suits both you and your dependents.
You’ll need to be able to adjust your work schedule based on other commitments like scheduled appointments and tuition classes, while still leaving enough time to respond to any emergencies.
Fortunately, many companies are offering hybrid and remote work benefits to help employees live a healthier work-life balance. At the same time, these flexible work arrangements help employers expand their pool of talent to include people with disabilities and others who are unable to leave their caregiving duties for an opportunity to work in decent jobs.
Creating a harmonious routine that aligns with both your work and personal commitments requires transparent communication with the people you work with. Have an open conversation with your managers about your needs and caregiving arrangements to align on a work schedule that allows you to attend to your job and personal needs that best fit you.
2. make use of your workplace benefits
Being a family caregiver while working can be very demanding on your physical and mental health, and your employer can support you in your journey.
Today’s employers are placing more focus on well-being and work-life balance to build a happier and healthier workforce. Besides hybrid work arrangements, employees get to enjoy more support initiatives like employee assistance programmes, family care leave, corporate discounts for health screening and mental health days.
When you don’t fully use your employee benefits, you could be spending on things that you could be saving money on! Speak to your HR team to understand the benefits that you are eligible for based on your seniority, tenure and employment contract so that you can improve your overall well-being.
3. set boundaries to reduce stress from blurring the lines
Not all your co-workers, friends or family members will truly understand your situation and pressure that you’re under. You may sometimes have to push back on projects or deadlines because you need more time to take care of your kids during school holidays or apply for urgent leave for medical emergencies.
If your friends or colleagues do not recognise your different responsibilities as a caregiver nor give you support to alleviate your stress, it may lead to caregiver burnout.
Caregivers can manage stress by setting clear boundaries between their work and personal lives and communicate these boundaries with your employees and co-workers. Imagine drawing a clear line between your work and life. It’s like creating your safe zone where you’re in control and things feel steady. You can draw that line by having transparent and honest conversations with your work buddies and bosses.
When your colleagues know your availability, you no longer need to be “always there” for them. You don’t have to reply to your emails or attend calls when your dependent needs your attention.
Try this - have a chat with your boss at the start of each week and tell them when you’ll be busy with your caregiving duties and when you’ll be available for work. Take the time to go through your weekly to-do list with your bosses and colleagues so that you commit yourself to your tasks too.
You can also block time on your work calendar to indicate your availability to your colleagues. When scheduling meetings, your colleagues will avoid double-booking you and look for time that works for everyone. It’s like giving them a heads-up without saying a word.
Creating a healthy balance helps us recharge, be productive at work, and spend quality time with our loved ones, ultimately leading to a happier, healthier life.
4. make time for yourself and your well-being
In our fast-paced world where we have to juggle a million tasks, it can be challenging to balance between family and work. It’s easy to get all wrapped up in looking after everyone else and forget about your own well-being and happiness.
But that’s a slippery slope to feeling burnout, stress and other more severe health problems. Self-care is arguably even more than important for caregivers. By taking care of yourself, you can better care for your loved ones and improve their own well-being.
also read: how to avoid burnout while working from home
You need to make time for yourself and take a break from your caregiving duties from time to time. Taking care of yourself isn’t being selfish. It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others - you’ve got to take care of yourself first.
Take a moment to do something that brings you joy, whether it’s a walk in the park, making yourself a cup of tea or simply reading a book. You should also take short breaks, like a quick nap or play a game of wordle on the bus or taxi.
When you give yourself the time to rest, you will feel more prepared to take care of others. You will also feel more confident at handling whatever life throws your way.
5. delegate tasks when possible
When it comes to managing your workload, finding that sweet spot between work and life is a big deal. It’s like having a balanced meal - you want a little bit of everything.
However, knowing when to ask for help and actually passing on some tasks to your work buddies or family can make a world of difference!
Sure, it’s tempting to be a one-person show, especially when you know exactly how things should go down. But when you collaborate with your colleagues, you can alleviate your stress knowing that everyone has a part to play in contributing to a shared goal.
Effective communication is key to delegating tasks successfully. When you’re sharing tasks, be super clear about what needs to happen and when. You can also continue to be present to share more information as the project progresses.
By working together, you and your team can achieve more and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life together.
6. navigating remote work with technology
Digital connection has never been more important than in today’s work environment when everyone is working at different times from different locations.
Technological advancements and the rise of telecommuting options have made it easier than ever to communicate with your bosses and colleagues, no matter where you are.
You’ve got the power to stay connected, even when you’re on the move. A simple text or voice message can go a long way in enabling you to manage your time more effectively and efficiently. You can also use productivity apps to help you stay focused and avoid distractions.
So don’t let distance be the boss of you! Use technology to your advantage and maintain strong relationships with your colleagues to achieve your goals like a pro!
7. be present
Life has a funny way of piling up a bunch of things for us to handle all at once. And it’s no secret that sometimes it feels like we’re here, but not really.
Research has shown that attempting to multitask can lead to errors and decreased productivity. While some simple tasks can be combined, like listening to music while writing emails, more complex tasks often suffer when you try to do them at the same time.
When you’re on the job, be present for your colleagues. Value your time by attending to their queries and supporting them by meeting your deadlines or offering your knowledge and expertise. By being present, you’ll increase your team’s work productivity and improve the camaraderie with your colleagues.
When you’re with your loved ones, make the time count too. Put the phone away and pay attention to them. It’s the little moments that matter and by being truly present, you are making your connections deeper and your life richer.
8. discover your local resources and communities
Caregiving is a job for a superhero. But even superheroes need help sometimes. Don't hesitate to get help and support.
There are many community resources available for you if you start looking and accept the help. Look for information about daycare programmes, transportation support or even financial grants to alleviate your stress.
You can also seek a support group, either in-person or online, to connect with others who are in your position. When you’re a part of these groups, you’ll be able to share your experiences, learn from others and get advice on how to balance caregiving with work. You may even find real and meaningful connections that can last a lifetime.
be proactive when it comes to your well-being at work
Streamlining your work-life integration is a process which requires continuous care and thought. It’s not about finding the perfect solution for all your problems overnight - it’s about being mindful of the decisions you make at home and at work.
By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can navigate both your workday and caregiver role more efficiently and achieve a better work-life balance. Remember to communicate your needs effectively, be a reliable employee, and seek help when necessary.
If you are working with an employer that doesn't provide you with the right support, it might be the right time to seek help. You can reach out to our recruitment consultants for assistance in finding an employer who can support your needs. Our recruiters can help you find a job that offers a better work-life balance and supports your caregiving responsibilities.