The work-life/home-life tightrope walk is a balancing act we all strive to master, but it’s one of the greatest challenges faced by working parents.

We can’t argue with the fact that working is important. Money has to come from somewhere, and our careers can be an enormously significant part of our lives.

But working, as you probably know, can be stressful and at times overwhelming and tiring to the point where it compromises our social lives and costs precious time with family.

free up some time.

One possible solution is to bend your working hours to suit your needs. Remote working and flexible hours are increasingly the norm, so you if you approach the problem imaginatively you’re in with a good chance of finding a satisfying arrangement.

There are plenty of options: compressing your work week (completing 40 hours in four days, say), going part time, or shifting your hours so that you start earlier and finish later, for example.

‘that’ conversation.

You’ll need to discuss your working hours with your manager so be sure to cover all the preparation bases before you approach them. Your proposal will be persuasive if it’s presented in a way that’s palatable for your boss and their priorities. Choose your moment (i.e. not when your boss is rushing into a stressful meeting), come with a fairly detailed plan and a few alternatives, and highlight the ways in which your organisation will benefit from the changes you’re recommending.

You can use your hours more effectively at home, too. Even with flexible hours that better suit your needs, there are always ways to make the most of time with your children and partner.

choose one night a week, and make it special.

Set aside one evening a week and find an activity you all want to do, together. That might be sitting on a sofa scoffing popcorn and watching TV – pizza and movie night, game night, playing-with-the-pets night… whatever works. The most important thing is that you’re all joining in.

eat together.

Sitting down with the children means you’ll catch all the gossip from school while they’re still eager to tell it, they can hear the interesting nuggets from your day (while you still remember them) and each party will feel like they’ve had some undivided attention.

the ultimate test: learn to enjoy the bedtime routine.

The bedtime/bathtime routine has the potential to unleash hell. Flying flannels, discarded pyjamas, slippery bathroom floors and screaming toddlers do not an enjoyable evening make. Keep a close eye on the evenings where things go well, and see if you can replicate the kind of atmosphere that seemed to work.

arrive relaxed.

Children pick up easily on a half-concealed post-work sulk. If you’re fresh (as it were) from a frustrating day in the office and a sweaty tube journey home, take some time to refresh yourself, change, and make yourself a drink. It may encroach on the time you get to spend with the kids, but that time will be worth much more.