A bunch of wise guys have hijacked this thread! The lot of you should be ashamed.
What was the original topic? Oh, yes, what is often called the work-life balance, but here we should perhaps expand it to the work-family-God balance.
First of all, you are at a crucial point because you are in graduate school, and you really need to maintain the effort to get your career off to a good start. In the long run, having a good job and income will give you more freedom to spend more of your time and energy on the things that really matter, like your family and your spiritual needs.
Second, you have a family, and they need your time, energy, attention, and love. Set aside a little time every day, or as often as you can, to give your spouse your undivided attention, and secondly your kids. If your workload is urgently demanding at times, communicate with your spouse about it, be clear about what you need to do and when, and schedule some time to catch up on the weekend, or after the exam, or whatever. And don’t keep postponing your family time like that poor dude in “The Cat’s in the Cradle” (song by Harry Chapin).
Last, but not least, make time for God. At this point in your career, it would be imprudent to try to be a theologian or a saint. You don’t have to do that. For starters, go to Mass on Sunday with your family. If you have a children’s Bible, or book of Bible stories, read it to your children once in a while, and tell them in your own words what it means.
If you want to do a little more, schedule a daily 10 or 15 minute session for prayer and study. Pick a quiet time to do this. (For me, it’s first thing in the morning, when the rest of the family is asleep; I’m an early bird. I pray a little, read a little Scripture or Catechism, not a long time. Then I start my workday. When time permits, I do more.) Don’t get obsessive and take on more than you can handle.
My last point is regarding the word “balance.” One thing I don’t like about the word is that it implies compromise. Perhaps it is necessary. There are only so many hours in the day, of course, and you have to figure out how to spend them. But the concept you should work on is “harmony.” A work-family-God balance is a good starting point, but it is better to have a work-family-God harmony in your life. Is it possible for these three important parts of your life to fit together and reinforce each other?
It should not be difficult to harmonize the demands of family and God. If you cultivate in yourself a stronger faith by prayer or study, and put it into practice in your life, it will benefit your family. Don’t forget, a significant part of your calling is to promote the spiritual well-being of your spouse (is she/he also Catholic, or Christian, and practicing?), and to teach your children to love God and love one another. Also the time and attention you give your family will help to make you a more virtuous and loving person.
Is it possible to harmonize your work with God? It certainly is possible, though you may have to work at it. Work conscientiously, do the best work you can within reasonable work hours, deal fairly and honestly with colleagues and co-workers, deal ethically with customers, suppliers, and business associates. In general, conform your work habits to your faith. Do what you can to improve the corporate culture, at least among those you personally deal with. If your employer requires you to cheat or lie, start looking for another employer.
Here are a few suggestions for harmonizing work and family: Work reasonable hours. Don’t bring a load of work home every day. Don’t come home and unload on your spouse the complete story of your workday, …but be patient and listen kindly if your spouse needs to unload. Turn off or ignore the cell phone during key family times. Don’t get obsessed about job status, prestige, or promotions if those things will negatively impact the time and energy you have to share with your family.
Drop us a line and let us know how you’re doing. We’re here to help. I pray that the Lord shower blessing upon you and yours.