Work and family: finding a balance

Becoming a parent can shift your attitude and priorities around work – and often in ways that you didn’t quite expect. You might find that having a family puts work into perspective now you’ve got another human to look after, and stuff that used to bother you seems insignificant.

On the other hand, the pressure of providing for your family can make work seem even more important.

Finding the right balance

A good place to start is by working out what you feel about your roles within and outside your home.

Questions to consider

  • What’s important to me about my work life and my home life?
  • In the current situation, what are all of the options?
  • Do these options change in the future, and when should they be revisited?
  • What sort of child care options are available?
  • What other arrangements might be possible in the future?

If you’re in a relationship or are co-parenting, having an honest conversation with your partner or co-parent/s about how you both feel is important. In addition to the above, you might also discuss the following questions with them.

  • Who is going to take on the primary responsibility of staying home with the baby? If so, for how long? And how does that person feel about being out of the workforce?
  • Could we share the responsibility through part time work or other flexible working arrangements?
  • How (and when) will we review whether this arrangement is working for us over time?

In terms of the child's wellbeing, it doesn’t matter what role you take on or balance you strike as long as you're happy.

Flexible working conditions?

Depending on the type of job you have, there might be some changes or new habits you can try to help you support your family and improve your work-life balance.

For example:

  • you might be able to work from home on certain days, or adjust your work hours to increase of time you can spend with your baby. Doing this even a couple of times a week can make a big difference.
  • set boundaries around how much or when you work at home, or how often you check emails when you’re with your baby.
  • some parents choose to make bigger changes to spend more time with their families. This could include changing jobs to reduce work hours or be closer to home, or changing shift patterns.


Time with your baby is all about quality over quantity. Ten minutes of really engaged play beats 30 minutes sitting on the couch with your baby while you scroll through your phone. Make the most of whatever you've got.

The pressure to perform

Many parents feel pressure to perform both at home and work. This juggling act, and the expectations and demands from each side, can leave you feeling as though you can’t get a win. You might think you’re not doing anything as well as you’d like to, and feel you’re letting everyone down as a result. 


Remember that you’re probably your own harshest critic. Keeping that internal voice in check can help you manage any feelings of stress, guilt, frustration or anger. Part of this is about being kind to yourself, and remembering that you’re only human.

And while it’s easier said than done, it’s helpful to lower your expectations a couple of notches and accept that for now at least, some things will just need to be done ‘well enough’. This frees you up to focus your energy on the most important things in your life.

Financial stresses

It’s an unavoidable fact – having a baby will impact your finances. In addition to the new set of expenses, most families experience a dip in household income. This can cause stress, which can impact our mental health and wellbeing.

Learn more about financial wellbeing and mental health.

If you’re having financial difficulties, Centrelink can help. Call 131 794 (or 131 202 for languages other than English) or visit a Centrelink customer service centre to arrange an appointment.

Talk to a financial counsellor for free

Financial counsellors provide free, confidential and independent advice to people who have money and debt problems, so they understand their options and get back on track.

The National Debt Helpline is the free, national phone financial counselling service. It’s never too early or late to call them on 1800 007 007, open weekdays from 9:30am – 4:30pm AEST/AEDT.

Hunting for the elusive ‘work-life balance’?

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