How to Balance Family and a Nursing Career
On your feet…
Daily exposure to sickness and death…
We get it.
Being a nurse is already a demanding job requiring you to manage numerous daily responsibilities, but when you add the demands of parenting, which requires the same amount of care, attention, and heart, you can easily feel burnt out on life.
As this common experience creates a cascade of negative emotions including guilt, shame, anger, and resentment, it is important for nurses to find a balance between their nursing careers and family, which can support a healthy home life. Since this is easier said than done with both patients and children pulling for your energy, we want to provide you with a list of practical tips that will help you perfect the art of balancing both parenting and a career.
Tips to Better Balance Family Life and a Nursing Career
To start off this list, we first want to remind you that being a working parent is okay.
The first step is accepting things as they are and looking for ways to improve your reality. From there, we hope these tips will help you live a more present life with your family all while feeling fulfilled at work.
Overcome “Parent Guilt” and Self-Judgment
If you are a working parent, you are probably familiar with the feelings of “parent guilt”
which often leave you feeling that you are missing out on quality time with your family and that you are not doing enough.
Feeling this guilt from time to time is completely normal, and it’s okay to experience it as long as you have strategies to deal with it. Otherwise, feelings of guilt can prevent you from connecting with your family.
To relieve yourself of this mentally draining thought cycle, forget the fake “rules” of what it means to be a “good parent”, and set realistic expectations for your life and the needs of your family. Allow your best efforts to be enough because they are. It is as simple as this: your family expects a happy parent, not a perfect parent, so limit self-judgment and allow space for true human experience.
Life happens. Your kids will survive living in PJs some days and eating cereal. Focus on what matters, which is the love you give.
Create Your Own Definition of Work-Life Balance
When you hear about work-life balance, you probably envision a highly productive day with the items on your “to-do” list checked off and your time perfectly split between work and home life… but this is not it.
There is no single way to have a balanced life, so strive for reality not perfection. Allow yourself space for flexibility and know that some days you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to enjoy hobbies or spend time with family.
Know that balance is achieved over time, not each day.
Try your best to remain flexible and open to pivoting based on the needs of each day — flexibility is the key to finding balance.
Be Present and Intentional with the Time You Have
Time is limited and as a “nurse-parent” you know more than anyone that there are only so many hours in a day to dedicate to both work and family, so it’s important to be present and intentional with the time you have.
When at work, be fully at work and perform at your best. When at home, be intentional about how you use the time you have with family. Avoid time spent lurking at work stuff at home and vice versa.
By protecting your time and energy this way, you can give more of yourself in the ways you want and need to.
Ask for Help and Delegate
Although you have the tenacity to truly wear the badge of honor that comes with being a “frontline hero,” there is strength and power in knowing your limitations.
Remember, you do not have to carry all of life’s burdens alone! (You’re not Superman or Wonder Woman, you know?)
Whether it’s asking your partner and children to help with household chores or delegating tasks at work, alleviating unnecessary pressure by asking for help and being willing to receive help makes all the difference. The more you delegate to others, the less pressure you will feel to do everything yourself.
In addition, be willing to speak up when the expectations and demands are too high. People need to know when you are struggling and requiring adjustments.
Start Planning Happiness
Working at healthcare facilities often requires you to work long and strange hours, but know that your schedule does not have to impact your family and the development of long-term memories together.
Start planning happiness and make things happen.
By planning ahead, you will not only have positive things to look forward to, but you will also be less likely to change your schedule and agree to work if you know a family outing has been planned.
Having a plan will not only give you permission to live your life according to what you want, but it also gives you the tools to do it, contributing to a healthier work-life balance.
Cut Out the Fluff
Today’s world has us bombarded with expectations from our jobs, family, friends, and society, which have us on a 24-hour clock seven days a week, but how much of what is expected of us actually has to be done?
The reality is that we do not have to do everything.
We don’t have to stay on the research project at the hospital if it’s adding too much….
We don’t have to be PTA president or be on the neighborhood block party committee…
We don’t have to be the crafty parent to be a good parent….
We don’t have to hang out with friends whom we only “kind of like…”
To balance nurse-life, prioritize tasks; say no, and focus on what brings you joy. By removing all the unwanted things from our lives, we create room for the most important responsibilities and for authentic happiness, which helps us feel balanced and recharged.
Commit to Weekly Self-Care
As is stated in many of our resources at Nursa, self-care is so important when looking for a better work-life balance, especially when you are a parent.
Nursing is hard work, and it becomes even more challenging when you have a family to take care of, so it’s that much more important to care about your personal well being. You won’t be able to take care of those around you if you don’t take care of yourself, so schedule self-care into your calendar to de-stress and rejuvenate your mind and body. Make time for your hobbies, and know it’s okay to invest in yourself.
Create a Physical End to the Day
Work, especially at hospitals and healthcare facilities, leads you to feel a lot of everything.
To best leave these feelings at work, try to create a physical and distinct end to your workday through a daily ritual.
Your daily ritual can be whatever you like; the point is that you shed work from home life. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Changing out of your scrubs before dinner
- Lighting a candle when you get home
- Taking the family pet for a walk
- Taking a shower before spending time with everyone
Physical presence doesn’t always mean mental presence, so it’s important to create a mental boundary that allows you to transition and be present at home after work as well.
Adapt to Needs and Expand Your Career Options
Life happens and as the children grow older and life circumstances change, you may need to take a look at your job and reevaluate what is working, what is not, and how you can make changes.
Luckily, as a parent working as a nurse in today’s market, there are tons of options for you to pivot your career. Whether it’s considering more certifications to open more opportunities, finding a hospital or facility that offers flexible “parent shifts”, or trying new positions like PRN nursing with apps like Nursa’s healthcare staffing app, there are tons of resources out there for you to still have a career and be there for your family.
Balancing Family and Work: An Ongoing Process
Creating balance between family and nursing is an ongoing and fluid process for a “parent-nurse.” Ultimately, the key lies in figuring out what a meaningful, fulfilling life involves for you and making actionable plans to stick to those values.
If you are looking for a better balance now and don’t know where to start, Nursa’s healthcare staffing app is a great place as it allows PRN nurses to find local real-time job openings, replacing the need for agencies.
Get paid per shift, enjoy flexible work schedules, and live a more balanced life, all while finding the best paid positions!
At Nursa, our goal is to improve nurses’ lives; this is why we created our PRN staffing app. Hopefully, some of these recommendations will also contribute to making your work and your lives overall more fulfilling, more enjoyable, and hopefully a little easier.