Managing work and family during quarantine isn’t easy. While neither of us have children, we have been hearing from many of our hive members about the struggles of managing home schooling and remote working. So, we thought that we might provide some insights about how to make the most of this situation. New research shows that spending quality time with children can actually boost your work performance. But, there is one extra thing that you have to do to reap the full benefits! Keep reading to find out how your children might boost your work outcomes.
What is Work-Life Enrichment?
There are many ways that your work and life might interact over time. One familiar way that work and life might collide is when they conflict. This happens when your work and your life don’t mesh together well. You either don’t have enough time to do both, or stressors from one bleed into the other. Not surprisingly, this has negative consequences for your work and well-being. Another way that work and life might impact each other is through work-life balance. Balance occurs when you feel you are getting the right “mix” of work and family activities in any given day. Balance happens when you end your day feeling like one domain didn’t overwhelmingly intrude on the other. When you find balance, it has positive effects on your work and well-being.
Work-life enrichment is another positive way that your work and life might fit together. When you experience enrichment, your work life is perceived to make things better at home, and vice versa. For example, if you are learning new organizational skills on the job, this might help you to be more effective as a volunteer in your childrens’ school. Similarly, seeing your children benefit from your parenting techniques might give you confidence to manage employees in the workplace. In other words, work-life enrichment occurs when you recognize that your activities at work and your activities at home make you better at tackling life overall.
The Enriching Effects of Quality Interactions with Children
Recent research has started to specifically examine the ways interacting with your children might impact your work. While there are many stressors that are caused by managing children and your own work at once, there are also a lot of positive moments that children bring into our lives. This research focuses on those positive moments, to see how they affect work outcomes. The researchers found that people in very demanding jobs experienced decreases in work performance, unless they had experienced positive moments with their children the day before. So, if you have a demanding job, and you want to continue to perform well, spending quality time with your kids can help you achieve your goals.
The authors of the study believe that this effect occurs because seeing your child behave well or engaging in a fun activity with them allows you to see that you can tackle challenges effectively. Demands at work can be depleting. But, positive interactions with your children are energizing. If you know you are good at being a parent, instead of viewing work demands as taxing, you view them as a positive challenge. So, positive interactions with your children allow you to go into your next work day feeling ready to face your tasks head on!
Talking About Positive Interactions with Children is Key
This same article also found something else is key to maximizing these benefits – discussing these positive interactions with others. Talking about the fact that you saw your child behaving well or that you did something fun with them is the key ingredient linking these experiences to work performance. So, it’s really important to take the time to talk about positive experiences you had with your children with those you care about! Discuss them with your spouse, a family member, or friend. In doing this, you are making the positive feelings that came from the event last longer. You are also more likely to feel proud of your skills when you share them with other people.
Overall, spending quality time with your children is actually helpful for boosting your work performance. So, if you were feeling guilty about taking time away from work for family, you don’t have to. This is actually something you need in order to go into your work day feeling replenished. Second, share these events with others you care about! This can help you to continue to capitalize on their effects. Finally, if you’re a manager, role model spending time with your children. And don’t give employees a hard time about attending their children’s events or taking evenings off. You, and they, need to spend time with their children if they want to tackle a day of challenges with energy and vigor!