Creating Work/Life Balance for Parents
While the expectations and daily demands of working full-time are familiar, adding parenthood into the mix requires some serious survival skills! Creating a sound sense of work/life balance is vitally important for everyone, and critical for working parents juggling both family and career.
At Jive, nearly 30% of our team are parents - a number that's growing every day with two new agency babies in the last six months! Creating a balance between home and work life is vitally important to the culture of our firm, and one we actively strive to support with flexible solutions to real-world needs.
We consider ourselves to be fortunate to have this flexibility - it's not always the case for many working parents, whether full-time, part-time, or something else entirely. Choosing to work is not an option for many, but a necessity, and no matter what that time looks like the demanding responsibilities for both roles are ever present for any parent.
I myself am a project manager and mother to two amazing teens, and am keenly familiar with the demands of managing their schedules, day-to-day physical and emotional needs, quality time and career time.
So how do we fit it all in? Here are 6 helpful hints that I have found to help to reduce my working mother guilt without compromising the requirements of being a good parent, and that provide much-needed quality time with our little (and not-so-little) ones.
1. Let go of the guilt
Accept that there will be good and bad days.
Rather than dwell on how you're spending your 9-5 apart from your child, find the silver lining to the opportunities you are providing them. I know it hard, trust me - I know, but think about how your role in the company is benefitting the family, and how you are demonstrating good role modeling behavior. Are you able to afford certain classes or educational opportunities for your children, take family holidays or perhaps able to put away some savings for college? This is a good thing!
There is always a silver lining to be found, but sometime knowing you aren’t alone and that the struggle is real helps a great deal to lessen the guilt.
Local mom blogs, such as Working Moms Against Guilt, are a great way to reach out to others trying to find the same work-home balance.
2. Find quality childcare
Ask your network of friends and family for references to nannies, babysitters, after school care providers and daycare centres. When you need support in a pinch it’s great to have a roster to pull from. If you have a co-parent at home or are sharing custody as a single parent, harness and leverage their support to create a shared sense of balance between family and child care activities.
3. Make the mornings easier
Avoid starting the day on a frazzled note by getting organized the night before. A few tried-and-true tactics:
Pack the kids' lunches, lay out their clothes, and have everyone shower before the eminent witching hour, when we are all too tired to function happily.
Decide what’s for breakfast and set the breakfast table.
Review the next day's schedule. Is there an upcoming field trip, exam or a permission form to sign? Know what’s upcoming so you are better prepared which will allow you to relax and enjoy low-stress morning moments.
4. Connect During the Day
Stay connected with your children even when you're not together. Notes in lunch boxes, a text, a call during lunch break or on your way home. Touching base lets them know you’re thinking of them and opens the door for them share anything that may have happened during the day.
5. Make time for Family Activities
Making time for your children is crucial, both during the week and on the weekends, every moment counts. If you're pressed for time during the week, make the weekends your time for family focus. A few suggestions to make the most of your family time:
Go for a hike or a walk, go for a bike ride and grab some ice-cream.
Have a fun family dinner on Saturday night, whether that's at home, dining out or having a BBQ or picnic.
DIY pizza and movie night is always a winner!
Decide on activities that fit into your schedule and lifestyle, rather than create additional stress trying to do a fun family activity that doesn't.
Ask for your children's input on the activity and encourage them help in planning.
Keep work out of the activity! Refrain from being always-on, and use your quality family time to focus on authentically being present.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what you do as long as you do it together.
6. Create Moments for Yourself
Because our time is divided between home, career and parenting, we need to make sure to manage ourselves and our personal needs – because all too often we neglect the basics.
Get enough rest
Fit in time for exercise or focus on a hobby.
Take a break and seize the moment for yourself
Read quietly while the kids are outside.
Take a hot bath and indulge in a glass of wine once the kids are in bed.
With a little help, a lot of patience and a realistic approach to the situation, you can do it! Just think - one day your kids may be doing this dance themselves and will be more prepared through your example.
Do you have a tip or tactic for balancing work and family? Thoughts to share on the subject? Please share in comments!
About the author: Corrie Larson is a Project Manager in Jive's Vancouver office. Follow her out-of-office activities on Instagram at @_mountainmomma!