How to Balance Kids with Your Career
Creating a work-life balance as a parent is vital, not only for your mental well-being but also for furthering your career and for feeling content with your parenting abilities. Being self-aware is always the first step in creating change, and understanding that you have two full-time jobs—being a parent and your occupation—is the first step in learning to be kind to yourself. Being a parent can be a beautiful experience and journey, but working this hard and being tired as a constant was perhaps not part of the dream of having children. How do we find balance in our work and personal life? We have to create this ourselves.
How to balance kids with your career in four steps:
When I think of my childhood, I remember the dates I had with my mom at McDonald’s (I know, I know). I remember the chats I had with my dad driving to school. I don’t necessarily remember the presents or the family holidays in detail, but I remember those special moments like yesterday when there were no distractions and the focus was just on me. If you look at your schedule and determine how much time you have available, work in a weekly (or daily, if possible) bonding time with your child(ren). You don’t need to do anything extravagant, apart from setting aside work and family responsibilities. Try focusing on a topic of the day and perhaps keeping a diary of these “dates” with your children. You can then look back on these moments when they are grown up. Trust me—those are the moments you will most likely cherish forever.
Make sure YOU take breaks, as frequently as you need and are able to. If you need to walk away from a situation, whether it is work or family-related take that five-minute break. You don’t just deserve this; you need it. And before you transition from work to family, allow yourself a chance to clear your mind. It is a different “hat,” if you will, from being a business person or employee to a parent, and it is important to give yourself a moment for this transition to occur, a bit more naturally and gently.
We have to be quite firm in creating boundaries when we have a job and children. There will always be another deadline and task to complete at work and at home. You can only do what you can for today, which is fine. I usually ask myself, “Is anything going to break if this is not done tomorrow…or next week?” and reassess the level of anxiety I feel to schedule it for completion on another day. Our expectations of ourselves are usually a lot higher than those of our employers or partners. We can be a little gentler on ourselves. Try to remind yourself now and then that YOU are the most important person in your life, and there is only ONE YOU! Be kind to yourself.
Boredom is not a bad thing
You read that right—it is not bad for a child to learn that their parent needs a break. I have to remind myself from time to time that it’s fine for the children to entertain themselves while I take a shower or watch an episode of my favorite show. It’s important for children to have space to work on that crucial concept of independence. You don’t always have to be “on.”
Gragnano, A., Simbula, S., & Miglioretti, M. (2020). Work-Life Balance: Weighing the Importance of Work-Family and Work-Health Balance. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(3), 907.