Four Actionable Steps to Achieve Work Life Balance for Firefighters

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We have a lot of stuff to do in this life and we don’t have a lot of time to do it. Between Work and Play- and then every day life, time seems to slip through our fingers!

But if you think about it, it really depends on the person, because many people nowadays are looking for how they can maximize their time. 

Specifically, they want to make the most of what they have to do with what they want to do. 

Picture this:

Do people want to spend their life working away, not taking anytime off, saving up every dime for retirement (which just means paying lots of medical bills) so they can have a trip to see the grandkids once a year?

Find out how to avoid this by mastering the art of work life balance! 

Why Work Life Balance is Important 

There’s this magical term called “work life balance”. People love their jobs, but they also want to enjoy themselves. Too many horror stories have trickled down the ranks of people dedicating their life to a position, only to be fired when they were no longer wanted by the company. 

Then there’s a dirty word: STRESS. Yep, I said it. Stress is going to happen, but too much is a bad thing.

Firefighters aren’t immune to it either, in fact it could be a contributing factor in the high amounts of heart related diseases. Firefighters have some of the highest statistics when it comes to heart related death. Do yourself a favor and give your heart a rest! 

So how can we avoid this mess of missing out and working ourselves to death? It’s actually a pretty simple answer – master the work life balance. 

With work life balance, we can look at and manage the important parts of our job with enjoying our family.

We can ‘make everyone happy’ in a sense that we know what we can contribute and when.

Practicing work life balance doesn’t have to be hard either, all we need to do is take a honest look at our lives, and make some simple changes in our time management and priorities. 

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4 actionable steps to achieving work life balance for firefighters 

Firefighter Work Life Balance is Important- Do you know how to achieve it?

One- Respect your time- (eliminate what isn’t important)

One of the big keys to work life balance is removing what isn’t necessary. Obviously you have to work, so those hours are accounted for. Another big one is making sure you have food and that you eat it. Of course you need to be spending time with family and friends. 

So ask yourself, what are you doing, say, on a weekly basis, that is robbing you of your time?

Do you spend your off days watching TV with your spouse, but then still feel like you haven’t had any quality time with them? Do you sit on the phone at the dinner table, and then you look up and realize that your child is a teenager? 

We only have 24 hours in the day. If we don’t respect that time and use it wisely, we can never get it back. This doesn’t mean you need to chuck your TV out the window- it just means that if your spending two hours after every shift “hanging out” at the station instead of enjoying family time- then the respect isn’t there. 

Two- Enjoy your time off- (Don’t be afraid to go on vacation)

Any one know a Firefighter that has a hard time taking time off? All of you? Yeah, me too. 

Don’t get me wrong, My husband is excited for vacations, it’s just that putting in the time off two months in advance (when we’re too far out to be really excited about the trip) that gets him. He also tends to stress about his coworkers- who will cover the shift, who else is going on vacation, should he do swaps instead, will he miss training or (the worst) will he miss a fire. 

Basically, Most Firefighters get a severe case of FOMO.

FOMO = Fear of Missing out

But

Firefighters really shouldn’t have FOMO.

Wether you are going on a trip or having a staycation, taking time off to recharge is important! 

For my Husband the FOMO about a fire is a very real, and I’m sure many others in the fire profession can relate. The thing is, there will be another fire, there will be more cool calls, and there will be more adventures. Don’t let the fear of missing out on the job cause you to miss out with your family.

Three- Balance- (Find out what your priorities are)

Ahh balance. Of course there is ‘balance’ in work life balance. But what does that mean? Images of kids on balance beams come to mind, and a waiter who has a teetering tray full of plates. But is that what balance really is? 

Balance has much more to do with setting prioritizes and then arranging them seamless, than piling as much as you can onto a plate and hoping that you don’t run into anyone in the restaurant.

When you balance, you know what has to come first, second and third- with some emergency exceptions.

For example, within your job as a firefighter- who know that structure fires take precedence over a car accident. There is an emergency exemption though, a structure fire on an unoccupied dwelling wouldn’t take precedence over a multiple vehicle pile up on the freeway.

Yes, you would delegate resources to the fire, but life is more important so you would send the majority of your resources to the vehicle accident.

That is balance, knowing what is important, and knowing the emergency exemptions that would change what you delegate time too. 

So in order to apply balance, you need to determine what your top three priorities are, and the emergency exemptions.

I can’t tell you what your priorities are especially since these change as life changes.

Some things will move up and down the list but its important to make sure that you stay honest about what you make a priority.  It would also be helpful if you communicated these to your immediate family and your coworkers.

One last note, Even though it is the best job in the world, it is still a job. That’s why my husband always says, “First Family First”.

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Four- Take time for yourself- (no matter what )

Self care is important. 

Say it with me. 

Self care is important. 

If you are laid out, sick and stressed and down right tired- you are not balancing anything because you can’t!!!! 

Now, I’m not one to place blame on a sick person, shit happens. What you can do is try your best to avoid getting sick or injured, and you do that by taking care of your physical and mental health. This means taking time to rejuvenate.

The most basic of these include eating, sleeping, exercising and keeping your sanity. 

I know this sounds amazingly basic BUT we’ve all had times in our lives where we put ourselves second, or third… you know its happened.

You’re ‘too busy to eat’. Bullshit. If you don’t eat and take care of yourself, your disrupting the natural flow of man. Do yourself a favor, keep your body and mind healthy so you can do be there for others.

We know that Firefighter stress and PTSD is robbing us of our Fire Family. Please- Don’t be another statistic.

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4 steps for Firefighter Work Life Balance

To Recap

1.Respect your time- don’t waste it

2. Enjoy your time off- no more FOMO when it comes to fires or calls that you might miss

3. Balance your priorities- make them known

4. Take care of yourself- stay mentally and physically fit 

With these simple truths in your life, you can master work life balance. You can enjoy your time at work and enjoy your time at home. 

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