You’ve likely heard about the importance of fostering a positive work-life balance. However, America is considered one of the most overworked nations in the world, making it very difficult to achieve work-life balance. This disparity in promoting the benefits of balancing work and home life and actually attaining this balance is concerning.
Moreover, many working adults are also parents. Parenting and working full-time can be a struggle, particularly if you are a single parent trying to advance your career. Luckily, there are ways to achieve work-life harmony if you are a single parent, co-parenting, or somewhere in between. Find out how to parent effectively while keeping up with your job using the following techniques.
Parent With Mindfulness
Each working parent has a different situation. Instead of lumping yourself in with everyone else and accepting a stressful routine, approach life mindfully. A little preparation goes a long way when attempting to balance work with parenting.
Create Memories Purposefully
If you’re working all the time, you may be worried that you’re missing monumental moments with your children. However, you can still create memories with your kids that will last a lifetime with a little planning. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create the “perfect” day, though — often, the best memories just involve simple activities like reading together or laughing over a board game.
If you are struggling to come up with activities that your children will cherish, ask them what they would like to do. This could be a great jumping-off point to lead you in the right direction, and your kids will feel seen and heard at the same time. Schedule a day off to do whatever they would like, within reason of course. This dedication to spending quality time with your kids will not be overlooked.
Acknowledge Your Child’s Specific Needs
Each child is different. The parenting methods that work best for you don’t have to — and likely won’t — look the same as those of other parents that you know or see on the internet. Try to filter out the noise and take an in-depth look at your particular situation. Identify the specific needs of your child in order to create an action plan that works well with your job schedule and parenting preferences.
For example, you could have a baby that experiences separation anxiety when they are with anyone but you. First and foremost, realize that this is normal. Babies and toddlers are ingrained with a need to be near their primary caregivers. In fact, it’s primal and crucial to their development. For this reason, take the age of your child into consideration when setting up a work schedule.
Seek Flexible Work Environments
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. work environments are more flexible. This opens up the possibilities for you as a working parent to find a job that suits your specific schedule. After assessing your child’s specific needs, take into consideration what work hours and benefits you would need to make addressing those needs possible.
This includes scheduling in time for your kids and yourself. There are certain workplace implementations that can make your life easier. As an employed or job-seeking parent, look for workplace benefits like:
- Maternity and paternity leave;
- Family healthcare;
- Shorter work weeks;
- Flexible hours;
- Remote/work-from-home jobs;
- An inclusive culture.
Many companies will tout an inclusive culture and be unwilling to back up this claim. Try to do as much research as possible to figure out whether an employer will be willing to meet your needs as a working parent. Look at employee reviews on Glassdoor and specifically search for your specific needs, such as flexible work hours. Working with a company that acknowledges the unique considerations and goals of employed parents is integral to your success.
Identify Your Unique Goals
If you expect your employer to be considerate of your goals as a working parent, you have to be clear about them in the first place. For instance, if you’d like to advance your career as a single parent, identify the steps you need to take to get where you want to be. This can look like:
- Assessing your current career;
- Identifying practical preferences, like part-time hours;
- Pinning down your passion and how to feel fulfilled;
- Looking into certifications, mentorships, conferences, and advanced learning opportunities;
- Networking with other working parents in your industry.
You don’t have to put yourself in a “working parent” box. However, it helps to establish your unique goals through the lens of someone who wants to advance in their career but also excels in their parenting duties. It’s possible to do so if you plan ahead and get a little support along the way.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help
If you’re a working parent, you may fall into the trap of wanting to do everything yourself. While this is noble, it can be advantageous to ask for help. If you try to do everything, you may end up burnt out and performing poorly at work and at home. Tap into the resources you have available to you to prevent this from happening. These can include:
- Online support groups;
- Family and friends;
- Financial support;
- Therapy and emotional support;
- Help around the house.
Make an itemized list of all of your duties and see what can practically get done. Then, look for resources to optimize these tasks.
In order to avoid burning yourself out trying to do everything at work and for your kids, you also need to set boundaries. Especially when working from home, the line between work and parenting life can blur. It’s important to set clear boundaries with your employer and your family to let them know what hours you will be working. This way, your family time isn’t disrupted by work and vice versa.
Moving Forward as a Working Parent
Remember to also set boundaries with yourself. Don’t let time for yourself fall by the wayside just to take care of work duties or spend extra time with your kids. There are ways to be a great parent and employee while not sacrificing your mental and physical well-being. In fact, this is the best way to show up completely in all aspects of your life.
Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels
Guest Author Bio
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business, technology, and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or getting into the latest tech.