Over the past two years, around three-quarters of parents, moms and dads alike, either limited their working hours or have considered doing so. Others are simply taking on far less demanding roles as they prioritize parenthood over their careers. This trend is also known as the “Great Resignation” but switching up their priorities and renegotiation their working hours is another way to go as costs of living have increased and child care costs have skyrocketed.
Still, we live in a “have it all” culture and while our financial needs and the “grind” culture makes us workaholic and working professionals, we are also expected to be perfect parents and ensure our children’s needs are met. To top that, we also need to have extensive social lives and nurture a successful marriage. It’s nice to think of managing to juggle all these balls, but children come with a bunch of responsibilities and we can drop that ball in particular. So how do we find work and family balance? Let’s see how life during a pandemic impacted us and see if we can use some of that in the future.
Parenting vs. Career in the Wake of the Pandemic
The COVID pandemic came with a sudden change in office work with many employees choosing to work from their home office in order to take care of their children as childcare facilities closed down. This led to a big change in the relationship between employers and employees. Working parents took a stand and leveraged their vital skills to work in such a way that work and family balance could better fit their changing needs. Parents were faced with a conundrum as children were sent home and COVID restrictions made it difficult to find alternatives for child care. As they couldn’t leave their children home alone or with a grandparent, remote work became a requirement for many as well as more flexible working hours. As we moved out of the pandemic, hybrid work is on the rise.
This trend also brought child care benefits provided by employers into focus for career decisions. The pandemic became a pivotal moment for moms and dads as their family needs had changed, and they found that they could ask for more from their employers. Whether it was more free time, more money, or more childcare benefits, companies that didn’t respect their requirements either lost their valued employees to companies that were open to meeting these demands or had to adapt.
Establishing Work and Family Balance
Well, the pandemic cracked a few doors, but finding a balance between our parenting and career needs means more than just some extra time spent with our children. Depending on their age, they might not even want us around that much. So how do we make it work? We are stressed, overworked, and wind up feeling like we’re failing half of the time.
There’s no universal fix for fast-paced modern lives, but there’s a reason every psychologist will underline the importance of boundaries. While work is important as it provides us with the financial resources that allow us to pay for our children’s education, extracurricular activities, and lifestyle, a work and family balance is the key to our sanity and that comes from knowing when to stop and start working and when to focus on your children.
Make sure your children get the time they need from you because it isn’t only about keeping them fed, clothed and safe. You also need to be present in their lives and while a quick e-mail sent from your phone may seem trivial to you, children notice everything. Setting up such precedence can be dangerous in the long run, and you’ll only see the impact when adolescence hits and they will no longer come to you for help. So what can a working parent do to make sure that their children have access to everything they need? In the following section, we’ll cover some tips that can help you find that balance you’re looking for as a working parent between parenting and career that doesn’t want their children to feel ignored or neglected while you try to make ends meet.
With the pandemic almost fully behind us, your employer may want things to go back to how they used to be. However, if your work did not suffer during your remote working days, you have the opportunity to negotiate your return to the office. Setting firm boundaries with your employer can go a long way and it can be something as simple as requesting no emails once the working hours are over.
Your work should not interfere with a ballet recital, soccer game, or dinner, as your children need to spend time with you. That is how you can maintain a healthy relationship with them. If you’re looking at your phone or pulling out your laptop regardless of the time of day or family activity, then your children will understand that they are always second to your job. Either set that boundary or set your phone on silent, or at least your work email and other apps you might use for work. At the same time, refrain from answering your boss or colleagues when you are off work. Nobody is paying you to work once the clock strikes 5 pm.
Create a Calendar
Learning how to manage your time is critical for a successful balance between parenting and career, especially for realtors. While you have to keep tabs on any deadlines imposed by your employer, meeting schedules and other work-related tasks, family events are also important. Creating a family calendar that includes both work and family events will help you better manage your time.
Use an app and give your family access to it as well so they know when you are free and open to spending time with them. Transparency can go a long way to help you stay organized and ensure that everything on your plate runs smoothly.
Implement “No Phone” Time
As we already established in the section about boundaries, putting your phone away will help you give your children your undivided attention, especially during special events or simply when you are off work. Similarly, your family should also learn to put their phone away, that includes your spouse and any children that have their own mobile phones. Being present for those family moments is important not only for the impact they have on your children but also for you to be able to achieve work and family balance.
Try leaving your phones away when you go for a walk around the block or neighborhood with your dog and children or when you go to the park. As long as it is safe to do so, you don’t need social media posts, emails or other people distracting you from an afternoon spent with your family. Your personal time should be just that, private. Refraining from checking your email every two seconds or not being available for that phone call that your boss initiates to verify something that you already notified them that you did will only increase the quality time you spend with your children.
Be open to Help
There’s nothing in the book that says you’re not allowed to accept help from those willing to give it. For instance, if you’re needed at work for something or can not get out of a business trip that just so happens to be happening at the same time as a school play or recital. While this may be difficult for your child to understand, if you make sure their grandparents or aunts are in the auditorium, your absence might be easier to overlook. They’ll have people who are important to them in the room and with the transparency, we mentioned earlier, you can make it easier for them.
On the other hand, if you need to be home in case your child is sick, you can work things out with a colleague to take over hosting a meeting with those important clients and find work and family balance. After all, a sick child should come first before a meeting that can be hosted by anyone working in your team. Delegating won’t make you less capable at work and if your boss doesn’t understand, then the problem is with them, not with you. Working with a support system that is responsible and accountable enough to cover you when some things come up will be a lifesaver.
While technology has a way of making it more difficult to draw the line between working hours and off-work hours, you can use it to your advantage as well. Start organizing your workday in such a way that everything gets done by separating different tasks based on the activity necessary. Splitting up your workday into chunks makes sure that all the same tasks get done before you go to the next chunk of work. For instance, organize things in such a way that all your meetings come one after the other and before you know it you’ll be done with meetings. Then you can take a well-deserved break before you jump into anything else that needs to be tackled at work.
Like this, you will be more motivated to finish chunks of tasks, you’ll be more focused and you’ll work smarter. Soon you’ll find that it doesn’t take you two hours to complete that excel document but one, meaning that you’ll be able to get more work done in fewer hours, and you’ll be home with your kids in no time. While spreading our workday across 24 hours, if you work from home, may be appealing as you get more free time in between tasks, and finishing all the work sooner gives you more time off. Also, extended work hours are a sure path to burnout. Just focus on work when you’re at work by organizing your time, and you’ll be more present for your family when you get home.
Take a Breather
While this might seem to contradict the previous section, it doesn’t necessarily. Organizing your time also allows you to take breaks. It sometimes helps just to step away from the laptop and go for a walk around the office or neighborhood. For instance, get a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the time you take away from your desk. The Scandinavians call it Hygge, but it’s about enjoying the little things. If that is a coffee break, a light croissant, or a walk around the block, disconnecting yourself from the office for a few minutes works wonders to recharge you and get you ready for another push. If you don’t stop working, we’re getting back to burnout and stress and that’s not ideal. Your brain needs to take a breather every now and then and it can even be something as simple as looking out the window for a few minutes. Throw your feet up, relax your back, put your hands behind your head and take a breath as you watch the birds or the trees outside your window. If you don’t have a window next to your desk, just stand next to one. Even your feet and back could do with something else than sitting down on a hard office chair.
Parenting isn’t easy. Full-time work isn’t easy. The combination of the two can be too much for many people, but finding the right balance isn’t going to be easy when you go around and decide to do both. This is why it’s so important to use any tool you have at your disposal. I’ve met plenty of people who choose one or the other so if you choose both you shouldn’t feel like you are constantly failing. The guilt that many parents experience when it comes to balancing their time between their children and their career isn’t to be taken lightly, but try to set realistic expectations. Life is chaotic even without children and understanding your priorities and your family’s needs is only the first step, but it’s incredibly important. Finding work and family balance is hard, but you’re on the right path as long as you know how to prioritize things and set realistic expectations. Yoga is a great way to find balance in your life as it helps both with mental balance and finding your center.
Let us know in the comments section below what other means you use to juggle all the balls in your life, as we could all use all the help we can get. Whether it’s a nanny, a work buddy, stricter rules, or going with the flow, finding the balance is always a personal journey and no one can find what works best for you besides yourself. Like & Share this article with friends and family and let’s push each other to be and do better, firstly for our children, then for our jobs. But hey, that’s just me; you can disagree as long as your balance works for you.