Balancing work, family and fun

A person juggling work, family, and leisure activities, representing work-life balance

Balancing Work, Family, and Fun

Every individual is unique, and I want to emphasize that what worked for us may not be a universal solution. However, I’d like to share our approach, which successfully sustained us for over five years.

Countless blogs, articles, podcasts, and books delve into the topic of mastering the art of balancing work, home, and leisure. However, our approach to achieving harmony in all aspects of life differs. We advocate for surrendering it to a higher power, emphasizing the importance of entrusting everything to God. While it may sound simple, uttering a quick prayer like, “God, please help me balance all that you have bestowed upon me,” the real challenge lies in genuinely relinquishing control.

Personally, I find myself willing to surrender to God, yet there’s a subtle thread of control, like a small line of floss tethered to it. In moments when things aren’t going as I wish, I give it a slight tug, reclaiming control of the balance.

Let me begin by highlighting that I’ve been on the road 50–75% of the time for the past 3.5 years in my previous job. But let’s rewind even further. Exactly six months before my role transitioned at my last “job,” my wife and I declined six travel opportunities as they would have required us to be apart. At that point, we had been happily married for 11 years, having spent less than three nights apart since our wedding.

It’s worth noting that those rare three nights without each other were challenging. In fact, what was initially meant to be a five-night separation was cut short when my wife, unable to bear the distance, pulled our kids out of school and drove eight hours two days early to be with me.

Perhaps, when we turned down those opportunities for free travel and the chance to positively impact the youth, God decided to play a little trick on us, thinking, “Watch this; you’re in for a period of togetherness.” Sure enough, not six months later, my role at work changed, and I was “encouraged” to start traveling if I wanted to retain my job. Initially, it was meant to be a single company tour, but it eventually evolved into a 50–75% travel commitment over the next 3.5 years.

Now, don’t misunderstand us; we’re not complaining in the slightest. I’ve genuinely relished my time spent traveling. There’s a certain allure to the attention that comes with it—everyone asking, “Where are you off to this week?” People would marvel at my lifestyle, expressing envy and saying, “I wish I had a job like that.” Despite the enjoyment of exploring new places and reconnecting with “friends” (colleagues), the regularity of leaving my family every other week became a bittersweet routine.

The kids and even the dog adapted to it, but my wife never quite adjusted to the new routine. Understandably so, as she was left managing our four kids, tending to the milk cows, chickens, horses, dogs, cats, PTO duties, school volunteering, chauffeuring the kids to various activities like lacrosse, acting, gymnastics, orchestra, doctor appointments, and handling the grocery shopping—all on her own. It’s no mystery why she despised it every time I headed out of town.

The strain on our marriage was undeniable at times. During those challenging moments, we’d eventually bow our heads to our hearts and seek guidance from God. 

We’d like to share some time management practices that guided us toward a more fulfilling lifestyle. While we can’t guarantee they’ll work for everyone, they made a significant difference for us. To ensure each of our children felt special, we began allocating specific times to spend individually with them, engaging in activities they enjoyed—whether it was hunting, going out to lunch, playing video games, or having a Nerf gun war.

Recognizing the uniqueness of each child was key. Additionally, we embraced weekend camping as a family activity. Upon arriving home on Fridays, Jenna would have the truck packed and ready to go. We’d venture off to explore national parks or mountains, set up our tent, and enjoy a day of relaxation.

Another crucial aspect was dedicating time every weekend to a family activity. This could range from playing board games to simply watching a family movie together. By prioritizing both collective and individual moments with our family, we found a balance that worked for us.

As mentioned earlier, frequent travel posed challenges to our marriage. I willingly accept full responsibility for every argument, all the emotional strain, and any disrespect that occurred during those periods. Both of us found ourselves erecting emotional barriers, a means of distancing from each other to alleviate the pain of separation each time I left.

The pattern emerged where we’d have a wonderful Friday and Saturday, but come Sunday afternoon, we’d begin the process of emotional distancing to mitigate the impending departure pain.

Our solution? We decided to invest more time in the evenings, primarily through meaningful conversations. Yes, talking played a crucial role (not what you were expecting, perhaps). We identified TV shows to watch together, cherishing the moments of closeness as we enjoyed the episodes.

Reading books, especially those on improving marital bonds like “The Five Love Languages,” proved to be transformative beyond our expectations. Gradually, we transitioned from distancing ourselves to embracing the time we had together. Our focus shifted towards living for each other, fostering a deeper connection in our marriage.

We took deliberate steps to prioritize our lives, a task that may sound simple but is, in fact, quite challenging. Here’s a quick exercise for you: identify the 3–4 most crucial elements in your life, then prioritize them. For me, it’s God, family, and work. Now, take a moment to reflect—are you currently living in alignment with these priorities? I found that I wasn’t; work had inadvertently taken precedence over God and family.

To realign my priorities, I set specific goals and took actionable steps. I began waking up 30 minutes earlier every day, utilizing that time for scripture reading and prayer. Additionally, I made a conscious effort to schedule work around family commitments. When faced with requests from my boss to be at a particular location, I communicated that, while I was willing to comply, it would need to be a brief trip or postponed by a week to prioritize my family. This shift in focus marked a significant change.

It’s worth acknowledging the incredible understanding and support of my wife on this journey. I recall a regrettable incident last year when I missed her birthday due to work obligations, a situation where my priorities were clearly misguided. She, being the amazing person she is, never complained, but I recognize now that I should never have placed her in such a position.

The key message here is to assure you that it’s okay if your current life doesn’t perfectly align with your priorities. What’s crucial is recognizing this misalignment and taking proactive steps to address it. While you can always find ways to make more money, the irreplaceable moments spent with your kids, wife, and connection with God are priceless and cannot be reclaimed. Don’t postpone aligning your life with your true priorities; time is a resource you can’t regain once it’s lost.
I want to pause for a moment and acknowledge God, giving full credit for everything that has transpired in my life. He is the very reason for my existence. Furthermore, I recognize that the challenges and experiences I went through in a particular season of my life happened for a purpose. There’s a lesson embedded in those moments, and I believe God guided me through them so that I could learn and, in turn, be of assistance to others.

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