Whether you’re a single parent or in a dual-parent household, raising kids is tough. When they’re little, children can do very little for themselves and require constant supervision. Then, once they get a bit older, they’re likely to be involved in a myriad of time-consuming activities and school events.
If that seems like a lot of time and responsibility to heap on top of a full-time job, you’re not wrong. However, finding the right balance between your life as a parent and your career aspirations is possible. It just requires planning and taking advantage of available resources. Here are three ways to make sure both your job and your children get the attention they need.
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1. Get Organized
In addition to making sure your work obligations are fulfilled, you also need to make time for your children. It can seem impossible, but being organized with your time and resources can make a huge difference.
For childcare, many parents need some kind of support to ensure their children’s well-being and their own peace of mind while they work. This may include daycare centers, in-home childcare, after-school programs, or family and friends. When you gather a network of trusted adults to help, you can use a meeting scheduler to get everyone on the same page. This technology allows all those in your childcare network to view each others’ calendars and check for availability. If something work-related comes up, you can use the scheduler to see who might be free to help.
The same goes for workplace time organization. Theoretically, the more efficient you are with your time at the office, the less you need to take home with you. Start by thinking about what time commitments you can trim down while still performing your job. If there are weekly meetings that can be combined into one slightly longer monthly meeting, see if that’s an option. Once you start paring down on non-essential activities, it’s amazing how much time can open up.
2. Set Boundaries Between Work and Home
In some industries, being available outside of normal working hours is required or expected. Before children come into the picture, this can wear a person down. But even if you don’t get that mental break by being at home, at least you’re the only one affected. Once children come along, however, there are times at home when your mind needs to be focused solely on your family. To make sure that you provide a stable, attentive presence for your children, it’s important to establish boundaries.
This might look like requesting all work correspondence be halted after a certain time of day unless it’s a dire emergency. That may sound straightforward, but make sure to give details and examples regarding what constitutes an emergency. You don’t want to be bothered during your child’s bath time because a client wants to move a recurring meeting by 24 hours. If it’s not something that needs to be solved at that instant without risking severe consequences, explain that it can wait.
If your workplace doesn’t allow that boundary, it might be time to reassess the functionality of your work-life balance. In a two-parent home, one parent might not work outside the home and, therefore, have greater childcare availability. For households like that, one parent bringing some work home might not negatively impact family life. But if you find yourself never truly engaged with your family, make sure your career is really worth the price you pay. If you miss out on your children’s younger years, that’s time you can never get back.
3. Look for Work Options With Flexibility
The rise of remote or hybrid work options has been a godsend to parents all over the world. While the rates are not as high as during the pandemic, it’s estimated that 20-25% of workers have remote work options. With the option to work from home, you no longer need to burn a sick day to stay home with your slightly feverish child. Sure, there are jobs such as brick-and-mortar retail or manual labor where those options are impractical. But if you can find opportunities with flexibility, it’s a game changer.
Let’s say you’re a nurse practitioner who has done clinical work for the past ten years. The position you’re in likely doesn’t allow for remote or hybrid work. But if you want that flexibility for you and your family, you might look for openings at health insurance companies. Insurance companies often hire medical professionals to screen procedural and testing claims for necessity. Many of these positions are fully or partially remote.
Even if you need to be physically present at work, there might still be some flexibility. Your employer might be flexible with their standard 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. schedule if your work won’t be impacted. For early risers, working 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. instead can provide an extra hour of family time each day.
Don’t Wing It
If you’re feeling the stress of juggling your kids and your career, it’s tempting to keep plugging along and let change happen naturally. When your children have aged one more year, surely things will start to get easier, right?
While that may eventually come to pass, you can make things easier on yourself right from the get-go with a little introspection. By determining exactly what you need to be successful in both parenting and your career, you can plan ahead. Oftentimes, solid plans require a person to make changes. Changes might consist of better time management or a slight career shift. Whatever you do, your plan should work toward feeling like each day is about accomplishment rather than survival.
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