The life of a working parent is hectic, to put it mildly. Always on the go, always multitasking, always “doing,” but always feeling guilty about the things we’re not doing.
The goal for the majority of us working parents is to balance a fulfilling career with a fulfilling home life. In addition to becoming the parents we want to be, we also want to fulfill our own personal goals. However, almost everyone sets their eyes on the ever-elusive “work/life balance,” but very few of us really feel like we’re truly achieving it.
We guiltily feel as though we are prioritizing one over the other much too frequently. When we do feel like we may have given both a commendable amount of effort, it’s usually at the cost of our own energy and sanity. We’re left with a sense of stress, exhaustion, and frenetic “spinning plates.”
I frequently hear from other working parents who are discussing the challenges of juggling work and family obligations. The staff and I at Paramus Daycare & Preschool are frequently questioned about how to manage being a single parent and self-employment. In light of this, even though I experience “working mum insanity” on a regular basis, here are my top 10 tips for working parents!
#1. PRIORITIZE YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH
One adage states that you cannot drink from an empty cup. Your family benefits from what’s good for you; taking care of your emotional needs is not selfish; rather, it is necessary. When you’re well, rested, and happy, you’ll be able to give more to your family and work and appreciate both more.
Give yourself permission to schedule time for taking care of yourself. Do whatever calms and nourishes your spirit, whether it’s taking a nap, reading a book, working out, taking a bath, engaging in a hobby, visiting friends, taking a course, going on a stroll, watching TV, or practicing meditation. Set up a particular time for it and avoid being interrupted (lock the door, put on headphones, or get out of the house if you can!)
You are doing it for your family as well as for yourself. Additionally, you’re giving your children a great example of how to prioritize their own growth, development, and self-care.
#2. MAKE LISTS AND USE A PLANNER
It doesn’t have to take up mental space if it’s written down on paper (or digital paper!). Make preliminary plans for your days and weeks. Then, instead of making a ton of exhausting decisions on the spur of the moment throughout the day, you’re just following orders and following routine.
Divide the day/week into smaller, more manageable halves, and designate particular times and tasks for work, family time, self-care, children’s activities, and other activities. Make a meal plan and place your online food order in advance. Store the planned information in a common area for everyone to see (several excellent family calendars are available).
Not only will this help you decompress, but it will also give you peace of mind that, even if you can’t dedicate much time to job or family that day, you will undoubtedly dedicate some dedicated, distraction-free time to it.
#3. IDENTIFY YOUR “CLAN”
You are undoubtedly already familiar with the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Embrace a supportive, understanding, and empowering community of like-minded individuals who will help you feel stronger. Some of these individuals may be found online or in person. As long as you have them, it doesn’t matter where you found them.
Be a cheerleader for one another and share your victories. Additionally, admit your faults to those who will not condemn you and who are willing to accept yours in return. encouraging one another that we’re all just getting by, occasionally screwing things up and other times getting it right.
Exchange suggestions, assist in resolving one another’s issues, and trade skills to save money and time. By using the collective knowledge, experience, and tales of your “tribe,” you can simplify your own life. Power in quantity!
#4. WHEN POSSIBLE, DELEGATE AND OUTSOURCE
Don’t be a control freak and shoot yourself in the foot. Ask yourself, “Is it REALLY true that no one else can do this?” for each task. Consider whether paying someone else to complete the task would be more expensive than risking your time and sanity. Release yourself.
You may easily assign tasks like cleaning and gardening to others, even your children. Does it ever occur to you to say, “But he/she doesn’t know how to do it properly”? Inform them. This first time, it may take an hour longer than usual, but in the end, it will save you time.
#5. AVOID THE “DUAL WORKLOAD”
Chores and household organization don’t just vanish when both parents work. In a two-parent household, one parent may succumb to the dreaded “double workload,” in which they split the burden of “earning/working” but also manage to take on the majority of domestic responsibilities.
In mixed-sex relationships, the mother is frequently (though not invariably) the parent. Since most progressive male partners object to the notion of something being a “woman’s role” as much as women do, it typically occurs innocently and accidentally. However, aeons of conditioning and habit might occasionally unintentionally seep in. Many working women report that even with supportive, helping partners who split up the domestic chores evenly, they are still left with the considerably more mentally draining duty of deciding what should even be on the to-do list in the first place.
The outcome is the same, regardless of whether women intentionally take on this role (a controversial subject for another time!): there are a ton of stressed-out working mothers out there who are making a valiant effort to “do it all.” Naturally, these worn-out fathers are also found in families where men are the ones who shoulder this “double workload.” This person, male or female, needs a vacation.
The mental strain of managing a household is much lessened when it is shared. Every week, try to dedicate an hour or so; a Sunday afternoon or evening works nicely. When planning for the upcoming week or weeks, BOTH parents (if there are two of you) should come together and decide what needs to get done. Next, fairly distribute those chores across the household (including the kids, if feasible!).
Of course, this is obviously meaningless if you’re a single mother like myself because we have to handle all of this ourselves! On the bright side, though, there’s at least no worrying over “who does more”! Furthermore, if your children are old enough, there’s no reason they can’t sit down and help you figure things out together. They should be taught responsibility.
#6. AIM TO ENGAGE IN SOME PHYSICAL ACTIVITY EACH DAY
In addition to the apparent advantages for your physical and mental well-being, shifting your attention from your thoughts to your body can have meditative, calming, and stress-relieving effects. Organize it throughout the day so that it is a must, even if it is only for fifteen minutes.
Join a fun activity that you will enjoy, such as yoga, swimming, karate, football, volleyball, or yoga. Go for a run, visit the gym, take a group class, or work out with an exercise video in the lounge. If it seems excessive, consider walking your dog, using the stairs rather than the elevator, or getting a decent walk by parking farther away than is necessary.
#7. THANK GOD AND MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY TIME
We frequently forget that quality time with our family is more important than quantity and feel bad about not spending enough of it. Although your children won’t recall the precise amount of time you spent with them, they will recall the activities you did and the feelings you gave them.
Make sure you have some quick activities planned for less than 30 minutes, or even 5 or 10 minutes — I have a ton of suggestions here. That way, you know you can still engage with them and have fun even if you’re pressed for time. Playing a game of Dobble, reading a few books, spending ten minutes on your bed talking and snuggling, coloring a picture together… These little things still have a big impact.
#8. ELIMINATE HARMLESS COMPARISON
The flip side of the “Identify Your Tribe” concept. Nobody should be exposed to or deserves negative, debilitating energy in their lives. The internet is great because it gives us access to a wealth of resources, but on the other hand, it continually exposes us to what other people are doing. Roosevelt is credited with saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Do not follow or unfriend. Eliminate all sources of poor self-esteem and inadequacy. Whether they do it on purpose or accidentally doesn’t matter; you don’t need it and the outcome is the same.
Bear in mind that on the internet, individuals present their best selves, which is typically not the whole truth. Nobody is aware of the demands placed on others by their jobs, the networks of support that they have or do not have, the struggles they face, or the things they have given up in order to succeed.
Comparing things is pointless because what works for one person might not work for another. The “success” of another individual could not be appropriate for you or bring you happiness. Describe success in YOUR own words. Just concentrate on choosing the best course of action for you and your family.
#9. SET OBJECTIVES
Set goals to help you stay focused and eliminate unneeded work. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by having vague, wide, and unachievable goals like “balance,” “doing it all,” “happiness,” or “being a great mom/dad.”
Please be detailed. What will bring you happiness and calmness? What can bring calmness and happiness to your family members? What particular actions can you take to make this happen? full toilet training? Pick up a language? Plot a vacation? Hold “family meetings” once a week? Attempt to obtain a professional certification?
Give them top priority and concentrate on only ONE goal at a time, and you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed and more likely to succeed. You may not be accomplishing everything at once, but you are taking care of what matters most. As you accomplish each goal, give yourself a hearty pat on the back and go on to the next.
#10. FORGET THE GUILT
Being a good parent inevitably involves guilt; it simply goes to show how much you care. Once you accept it for what it is, get rid of it. Don’t strive for excellence. It’s acceptable to occasionally let things slip because it’s difficult to stay on top of everything.
Consider your accomplishments in terms of weeks or months rather than days. It is impossible to be flawless every day. However, you have probably given a lot to your family, a lot to your work, and ideally enough to yourself throughout the course of a month. So even though every day can feel out of balance, generally, you ARE doing a great job.
Make it a daily habit to record your accomplishments and acknowledge your successes. Yes, you may have given your kids fish fingers for lunch for the third day in a row, but your presentation at work was fantastic. Yes, you may have an overloaded email inbox and a sink full of dirty dishes, but you just gave your 4-year-old five minutes of nonstop laughter. Give yourself the credit you deserve. You’re far smarter than you realize, I promise.
I’m wishing you many happy, calm, tranquil, and serene moments in the future!