How Working Parents Can Achieve Work-Life Balance
From juggling the demands of a career to all the big (and little) things that come with being a parent, it’s definitely not easy being a working parent.
While sometimes it can feel like no matter how hard you try, something is always getting the short end of the stick, there are some things you can do to take back control and put your life (and happiness) back in focus.
Just Say “No”
Sure, it’s tempting to volunteer for every school activity or host playdate after playdate or bake three dozen cookies by Friday to feel like an active and involved parent, but it’s so not necessary.
Working parents are already juggling a lot on their plates and have fewer hours in the day for these extra activities — and that’s OK. Pick what’s really important to you (and your child) and say no to the rest.
You won’t regret it. What you will regret is cursing at yourself at 1 in the morning while sweating over a batch of cookies you didn’t really want to make.
Accept All the Help
There’s some self-perpetuated myth among parents that we have to be Supermom or Superdad and be able to do everything ourselves — but it’s simply not true.
If a mom friend offers to take your kids for a few hours and feed them dinner or a school parent wants to host a playdate after school saving you from racing to pick-up, say yes (and thank you!)
We’re not meant to do this alone and you’re definitely not failing just because you can’t do everything yourself.
Outsource Everything Else
It’s amazing that we live in a time where there’s so much we can easily outsource straight from our smartphones.
Whether you hire a monthly cleaning person or set up Subscribe and Save deliveries of household goods from Amazon Prime or get grocery delivery, figure out what expends the most of your time and energy that you could easily outsource to someone else.
Then spend that time and energy where it really matters: with your family and taking care of yourself.
Get a Good Routine in Place
All working parents know how crazy the mornings can be. That’s why it’s so important to have a consistent routine that everyone in the family can be on board with.
Whether you create a checklist that goes up on your child’s door of everything they need to do and in what order (i.e. Put on clothes, brush teeth, etc.) or have school lunches prepped the night before and shoes and socks all laid out by the door, do whatever you have to do to make the mornings as streamlined as possible.
No one likes to start the day stressed and rushed.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
Yes, family time is important, but so is time to yourself.
Working parents often have very little time to recharge between racing home, making dinner and putting the kids to bed, so make sure to carve out even just a small amount of alone time each week — even if it’s just reading a book by yourself in bed for 30 minutes every night.
Schedule time with friends — sans kids, go to the gym, or wander around the mall solo. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane. A happy parent makes happy kids. Don’t forget that.
It’s OK to Not Always be Balanced
There will be seasons in your life that definitely feel more unbalanced than others — and that’s OK. Just know this, too, shall pass and focus on the future.
No one’s going to remember in three years that one week when you were crazy busy with a work project.
Ask About Flexible Hours at Work
Imagine how much time you’d save if you could start your work day just an hour earlier to avoid the brutal morning commute, or leave an hour earlier to pick up the kids.
Or perhaps every other Friday could be a work from home day. It’s not always possible for everyone, but it never hurts to ask.
Say No to Guilt
It’s inevitable – all working parents will feel guilty about … well, everything. But it’s high time you let go of that.
Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can do doing what you need to do for your family.
If your kids are happy and healthy, you’re doing a great job. Period.
Focus on Quality Time Over Quantity
Let’s get this out of the way: there’s never going to be enough hours in the day to get everything you want done.
So just let that go. Instead, focus on creating memorable family experiences instead of feeling bad about how little time you have together.
Plan an epic family movie night once a month, or a special family outing that each member of the family gets to take turns choosing.
Leave Work (and Tech) Behind
Yes, it’s easier said than done – and not always possible – but try to make a mindful habit of putting down your phone/laptop once you walk in the house until the kids are in bed.
It’ll not only make them feel like your full attention is on them, it will help you enjoy your time together more without being stressed about replying back to an email or constantly checking your phone for texts and feeling interrupted by your family.
Separate your work and family life, even if it’s only for a few short hours. It’ll make a world of difference.
Make Use of a Family Calendar
When you’re juggling as many things as working parents often are, organization is key.
Whether you go the good old pen and paper calendar route, or utilize a shared Google Cal, putting everything in one place from doctor’s appointments to days you have to work late to when to take the dog to the groomer will make all your lives so much easier.
Communicate With Your Partner
There’s a lot of talk these days about how moms take on the brunt of the emotional labor at home – whether they work or not. Instead of brewing in resentment that you feel like you do more housework than your partner, open the lines of communication and have a clear divide and conquer plan of who will do what each week.
If that means writing it down somewhere and having it displayed, do it. Don’t let something build up that doesn’t have to.
Oh, and don’t forget to schedule in a date night here and there too. Alone time with your partner is just as critical to a happy family as time with the kids.