Work-life balance when you’re a full-time working parent is a challenge. Young women and men need to be better educated about what work-life challenges they will likely face when they become parents and how they can handle them in their various fields and jobs.
I don’t believe anyone can truly understand the importance of a work-life balance until they have children and a family at home. Understandably, young graduates and single millennials will do anything to go the extra mile to make a good impression in their new job. Unfortunately working extra days and late nights contributes to forming bad habits in the long term that will ultimately need to be broken.
Steps to take to ensure a smooth work-life balance as a working parent
Share your work life balance rules with your colleagues – Preparing your colleagues in advance as to how you manage your work-life balance, and helping them to understand why you do it will ensure they, in turn, understand your boundaries.
Don’t feel guilty – Try not to worry about how much time you’re spending away from your children and rather focus on how your job is benefitting the family as a whole. Perhaps the extra income will allow you to save up for a family holiday to somewhere the kids will enjoy and you can spend some real quality time together.
Be happy with your childcare choice – If you’re a parent of young children, make sure that you’re 100% confident and happy with your childcare choice, whether that’s with a daycare facility or full-time nanny to take care of your children at home. There’s no point spending your day worrying about whether your children are safe and being well looked after in your absence.
Get organised – It’s tempting to settle down on the couch and put your feet up as soon as you get home from the office. However, if you want to avoid starting the following day on a bad note, try getting organised the night before. Pack everyone’s lunch bags (don’t forget your own), lay out clothes for the morning and place your work bag and car keys in the same place so you don’t forget them when you’re rushing out the door.
Have dinner together every single night. – Having a sit-down dinner each evening together as a family does two things. Firstly it eliminates you having to make two separate evening meals and secondly, it allows you to all sit down together as a family and discuss each person’s day.
Create a family calendar – Having an easily visible daily calendar will help you manage your week and plan for family time more efficiently. In your calendar, you can include your appointments, your children’s daily activity schedule, family events, due dates for bills, grocery lists, meal plans and the like.
Make time for family – Spend an hour a week planning family time and family activities for the coming week. Check the weather forecast for the week and see whether you can plan indoor or outdoor activities.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember to make time for yourself. It may seem tricky to do when you’re trying to juggle everything at once, but it’s important to remember that you cannot be an effective parent, spouse, career woman/man if you don’t set aside a little bit of time each day to relax and re-energize. There are many ways to do this and not everyone has the same way of unwinding. You can exercise, meditate, read a book, take a bath or simply sit and look through your family photo albums.