You're excited to attend your child's school performance tonight but eager to finish that business report. The next day you worry about squeezing in a bedtime story, even though you're in late from work.
Juggling a job and a family can be a delicate balancing act. Life can get hectic, and the guilt of being away from your child can lead to drastic decisions like quitting work and living the life of a stay at home parent. There are ways, however, to maintain this lifestyle and make time for both your career and your family.
Before you make the rash decision to leave a great job and to make life somewhat more manageable, consider these tips on finding a good work-life balance as a working parent.
1. Set Up a Planner
You probably have a planner for work, so why not have one for your personal life, too? Use a calendar tool to set important dates such as parent-teacher meetings, doctor appointments or your child's next soccer game. You can even pre-plan home meals or packed lunches and schedule them o you know what to cook each day.
Mark days when homework is due and plan when you'll be doing housework. Stick the planner on the fridge and involve the whole family or share it with your partner, so they're on track, too. Planning your parenting responsibilities in advance can ease the pressure and make you feel more organised.
2. Use Your Lunch Breaks
Lunch breaks may be a time to unwind, have a nap, or scroll through social media. But as a working parent, you might have to make some changes and dedicate breaks to keeping on top of parenting duties. Run important errands, fill out your family planner, complete school forms or read through teachers' reports.
Even better, give your kids a call - if they're young enough to be at home, still. This is a perfect time to video call and stay connected with your kids. Hearing their voices can brighten your day and ease off any work-related stress.
3. Come Home Relaxed
Children can easily pick up on their parents' moods, according to parent educator Odette Umali. When you come home stressed after a long day's work, your kids are bound to take notice. For this reason, try to be mindful of how you act when spending time with them.
Keep your mind off work-related issues by listening to loud music in the car on your journey home or by taking a warm bath as soon as you get in. Making sure you're in a relaxed mood for that family meal, or bedtime story is essential in keeping a healthy work-life balance.
4. Turn Off Work Notifications
Letting your job override your personal life is what throws off that work-life balance. When you have children, the need to separate your work schedule and your personal life is greater. Turning off your work notifications should go hand-in-hand with taking your shoes off as soon as you walk through the door. Eliminate stress at home and give your family your undivided attention by avoiding work calls on the weekend and checking your emails in the evening.
5. Prioritise the Kids
When you come home after a daunting day at work, all you want to do is put your feet up and binge-watch your favourite show. But as a parent, you have to put your kids first. Avoid aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, reduce TV time and save that glass of wine for when the kids are tucked in bed.
Although work may have worn you out, prioritise spending time with the kids by having dinner together being there for their bedtime routine.
6. Make Life Easier
Juggling work, handling the kids and maintaining a house can drive even the sanest person crazy. Nobody wants to finish work and come home to a pile of unwashed dishes, a dinner waiting to be cooked, and a mountain of laundry.
If you can, make things easier by hiring a cleaning service, ordering take out, prepping easy meals, and doing online shopping. The less tasks you have on your to-do list, the more time you get with your kids. Going home and focusing on your children instead of house chores will significantly reduce any feelings of guilt that arise when you're at work.
7. Prepare the Night Before
Got bottles to fill for your baby's nanny? Have to pack your lunch for school? Need to iron your son's uniform? Do yourself a favour and avoid leaving these tasks for the morning of. Once you've settled the kids for bed, tick them off your to-do list, so you're not rushing in the morning.
By having everything prepared the night before, you'll start your day stress-free and feel more productive at work.
8. Set Family Days
Working parents aren't all boring! You can still be a fun mum or dad, even with a demanding job. One way to balance work-life as a parent is by arranging family days or nights. Set a fixed day of the week for movie nights with the kids or keep Saturdays free walks in the park or other outdoor activities. Family nights can also give you all something to look forward to.
Your kids are one of the most important things in life and making time for them is crucial for building a strong family bond. Avoid talking about work or checking your phone and engage with your family.
9. Involve Your Partner
Finding a good work-life balance involves balancing responsibilities in your relationship, too. When your schedules are tight during the week, split the house chores with your partner and take turns to look after the children.
If you're parents to a newborn and have an early start for work, share the midnight feeds, or swap shifts every other night. When the sink is full after dinner, take the burden off your shoulders by asking your partner to clean up, while you help the children with homework.
10. Don't Feel Guilty
Many parents feel guilty for choosing to work while raising a family. It's easy to let the guilt take over, wishing you had a job that offers better work-life balance. However, it's important to look at the bright side and recognise the benefits, too.
Namely, being able to provide for your family and offer them stability is an essential aspect of being a working parent. Instead of guilt-tripping yourself for not being at home, focus on the bigger image, and be sure to make the most out of your time with family on your days off.
11. Check Up on Yourself
Keeping a balance between personal and professional duties as a working parent is no walk in the park. There are days when you will want to rip your hair out or shut yourself off in a room. While it's perfectly normal to feel like this, you must pick yourself up again.
Scoring a good work-life balance as a parent also requires taking care of yourself. As busy as your schedule is, try to make time for yourself too. Let your partner look after the kids on the weekend while you treat yourself to a pamper session or a night out with friends.
12. Negotiate with Your Boss
If your schedule is just too hectic and you're truly struggling to find time for your children, consider talking to your boss. Negotiate working hours that benefit the both of you and ask for some flexibility such as working from home a few days a week or reducing your hours every so often.
Of course, this isn't an option for everyone, but if your boss is a considerate person, consider asking if you could bring your child to work occasionally. Or is that too much to ask?
Finding a good work-life balance as a working parent can be tough. But with our survival guide, you can hopefully find a routine that puts family first without jeopardising your job.
Are you a working parent? What are your tips for juggle work and parenting? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!