It’s no secret that juggling work and family is challenging for working parents. But the good news is that it’s possible to find balance.
Whether you’re announcing a pregnancy, requesting flexible work hours, or discussing your daycare pickup schedule with your manager, candid conversation can feel taboo. But what if it didn’t have to be?
1. Plan Your Mornings The Night Before
Working parents feel like there’s never enough time to give their jobs and families the attention they need. They struggle to separate work from home, and even if they do manage to give each responsibility its due amount of focus, something always comes up.
During times of crisis, the challenges of managing family and career become exponentially more complex. Offering support in the form of coaching may be just what working parents need to re-calibrate their expectations, find new strategies for balancing it all and make better choices moving forward.
One simple way to help working parents is to suggest they prepare the night before by choosing their outfits, preparing breakfast or lunches, and packing any items they’ll need for the day. This helps reduce stress and makes the morning more leisurely. It also frees up mental energy for the important tasks at hand. Other helpful ideas include making sure their car is gassed up and the keys are in the ignition, setting out work-related materials they’ll need and leaving clothes and bags by the front door.
2. Take a Break
For many working parents, it can feel like balancing work and home is an unrelenting marathon. They have to juggle conference calls while helping the kids with homework, answering urgent texts from their boss while on family outings, and staying connected to their team members even after the office has closed.
It’s no wonder that many working parents start to feel exhausted and overwhelmed after just a few weeks of parenting. This is a complex and challenging issue that will never be 100% resolved, but it can be contained and managed by focusing on the right things at the right times.
One way to do this is by giving yourself regular breaks from work. This can be as simple as reading a book, doing a nighttime skincare routine, taking a walk, or catching up with a friend over dinner. By stepping away from work and recharging, you can come back to your job more focused, relaxed, and ready to meet the challenges of parenthood.
3. Set Limits
It’s no secret that working parents have a lot on their plate. Whether it’s getting their kids ready for school or keeping up with work and family responsibilities, it can feel like juggling multiple balls all at once. But there are ways to make the juggling easier.
For starters, Rinehart suggests setting limits on what you’re willing to do and say yes to. Don’t let yourself be sucked in by requests to volunteer or participate in a committee that you may not even care about, as these extra tasks can increase stress levels and leave little time for other things.
It’s also important to set boundaries for your children as well. This may mean explaining to them why you can’t always be available for them and what your role is in the family, as well as helping them manage their expectations so they can understand that working can sometimes interfere with family time. Setting these boundaries can help reduce the feeling of guilt many parents experience as a result of their work-life balance struggles.
4. Take Care of Yourself
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed as a working parent. Something is always pulling for your attention and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Rather than feeling like you can’t give either your career or your family your full attention, focus on reducing the number of things that pull at you.
This may be as simple as reading a book before you go to bed, doing a nighttime skincare routine or even taking a break from the TV. You can’t be a great spouse or parent if you are exhausted and cranky, so be sure to take care of yourself as well.
For many parents, the most challenging part of juggling work and parenting is the emotional impact of the time horizon. It can be emotionally devastating to think about a six-month project or delivering an annual revenue plan when you have young children to care for. To counteract this, try using framing techniques like “today plus 20 years.” This can help you to manage the demands of both your professional and personal life more effectively.