Finding a Balance Between Work and Parenting
Parenting is a full-time job in itself, yet many parents work a full-time position on top of managing their family responsibilities. Even for divorced or separated parents whose children split their time between two homes, it can still feel impossible at times to find a balance between duties at work and parenting obligations. If you're mindful about having this balance and take measures to help you maintain it, you'll find that it is possible to be an involved parent while remaining dedicated to your work. Contemplate these tips to help you find a balance in work and parenting.
Don't Get Swallowed Up By Guilt
Letting yourself get down on the fact that you can't always be there right when your kids need you won't do anything for you or your kids. The truth is that your job is probably helping to provide for your children's well-being financially. The money you earn in your work can be put towards your children's basic needs and maybe even more than that like extracurriculars, savings for college tuition, or a special family vacation. Some days you may find that you have more time to dedicate to your kids, while other days you may have to focus your attention on the tasks at hand in your work. You can't spend every moment of every day focused on your children even if you're working from home, so make the most of the moments where your attention is dedicated to them.
Be Efficient With Your Time
Avoid letting yourself get distracted throughout the day both at work and at home. Be efficient with your time at work so that you don't find yourself having to stay any later to get things done. Dedicate set amounts of time to emails, phone calls, and other busy work that can get in the way of completing other tasks. When at home, spend good amounts of time entirely focused on your children without distractions. The quality of the time you spend with your kids is what's most important, so it's important to put down your cell phone and other distractions during family dinner or while playing together. For separated or divorced parents who share parenting time, use the time that your kids aren't with you to focus on everything else that you need to do outside of work and parenting. This is a great time for you to nurture the adult relationships in your life with people like friends or even a new partner. Besides taking care of the other obligations in your life, consider taking a little time once a week to plan meals for both your weeks with your kids and your weeks without them. Making a meal plan for the week, prepping ingredients, and even making entire meals that can be frozen and re-heated later can make a huge difference in helping yourself and your children eat healthy and tasty meals each week. It'll also take away some of the stress involved with thinking of something to eat every day then taking the time to cook it.
Pre-Plan And Setup A Calendar
Having a set schedule will help you to be more efficient with your time. At work, you may already have a calendaring system that your office uses. Whether it's on that work calendar or one you maintain on your own, map out your daily routine so that you can maximize your efforts in the time you're at work. Know when you have meetings and when you have your own time to work on other tasks. At home, get your parenting time calendar mapped out well into the future so that you know when your kids will be with you and when they'll be with their other parent. On top of that, get your children's activities and other important events on this calendar so that you don't miss a beat. For you and your co-parent, using an online calendar that you both can access will help to assure that you're both on the same page with your parenting schedule. If your kids are old enough to understand a calendar, get a printed, color-coded copy to put in a central place in your home like the kitchen or near the entry way that your family uses most often. Go through the agenda with them once a week to help them prepare for what's ahead. As for you, review your work and parenting calendars at least once daily in the mornings so that you're prepared for what's to come.
Make Time For Yourself
Everyone needs some time for them self here and there. It helps us maintain our sanity in the midst of our busy schedules. In your down time, let yourself to do something you enjoy and helps you relax like going on a hike, practicing yoga, enjoying a meal out, working on crafts, or whatever else you like to do. Eating well and getting enough sleep is important too, even if it's not always easy to do either. Weekly meal prepping and letting yourself get extra rest on days that you don't have to work and your kids aren't with you will help.
Finding a balance between work and parenting does require effort on your part, but it will be worth your while. Eliminate your feelings of guilt about working, and maximize your time both at work and with your kids. Plan ahead for everything, and get it down on your calendar. Lastly, don't forget to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Doing all of these things will help you to find that balance between work and parenting.