Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences you can have. Add a career to the mix, and you have a recipe for a very hectic, demanding life. I had a coffee meeting the other day and the man I met has 3 older daughters and he asked me- “How on Earth do you do it all with 3 Children under 4?”. Well let me tell you…
If you have the right mindset and you have the right approach to it, you can absolutely balance being a parent and have a career successfully. There are a few elements that must be in place in order to really make it work.
Here’s some points to help get you started!
1.Set clear work boundaries: One of the biggest challenges of balancing parenthood and a career is ensuring that your work life doesn’t interfere with your family life, and vice versa. When you are returning to work after having children, sit down with the appropriate person and set out some clear work Boundaries. Flexibility is Key when you have a family, who’s doing drop offs/ pick ups/ making dinner etc. You need to think about what will work for you and speak to your workplace. Hopefully they will be fully supportive of your flexible requirements, and if they aren’t, send them my way- they clearly need to change their mindset!
2. Get organised: Have you ever met a more organised person than a working mother? I think not. Sorry Dads, but it is true. Being organised is really the key to survival as a working parent. Without it, you will end up in a heap on the floor completely overwhelmed. Make to do lists- personal and professional every day and tick things off as they are completed. Have a place for all your appointments that is easy to access, and prepare what you can the night before. There is nothing worse than realising your daughter’s uniform needs a wash and she has school in 45 minutes… plan ahead and be organised! Work out with your other half who is responsible for what so you know what you need to stay on top of.
3. Prioritise your tasks: Following on from being a super organised parent, you need to then prioritise what is most important. Work out what is most urgent and make sure those tasks are completed first. If you have to leave cereal all over your kitchen floor after breakfast to get out of the house on time for an important meeting then so be it- it’s not a priority at that time, getting out the house is. (I just hope your OCD doesn’t eat you up all day knowing the mess that awaits you like it does to me). Thinking about what the number 1 thing is to achieve in that moment is not easy. It takes a bit of agility and adaptation in the moment which can take a bit of practice but is a habit that can be relearnt.
4. Build a support system: No one can do it all alone, and this is especially true for parents who are juggling careers and wanting a happy home life. Work for a company that supports you as a parent, that fosters real flexibility so you don’t feel terrible leaving early or coming in late if you’re doing the school drop offs. Surround yourself with positive, supportive friends and family that will offer help and practical support when you need it. And make sure you have a great partner and are a great support to your other half. Look out for each other, take on that task that is usually your partners when they are having a bad day and could use some downtime. A bit of emotional intelligence will go a very long way. Communicate if you want/ need something else from your partner, sometimes we are non the wiser until someone points out the obvious.
5. Take care of yourself: The point that most parents really struggle with- I know I do, but it’s my mission for this year to reconcile. Taking care of ourselves is so important. If you are going to be successful and avoid being burnt out, stressed out, and a big hot mess- take some time out for you. Make time to exercise, try and get enough sleep (easier said than done, I know), eat well, manage your stress levels and socialise. Sometimes a glass of wine with a good friend is the most restorative thing you can do. A happy, healthy parent is the best thing you can give your children, so looking after yourself is absolutely essential.
Balancing parenthood and your career is not easy, but with the right approach, it can be done. By setting clear boundaries, prioritising your tasks, getting organised, building a support system, and taking care of yourself, you’ll be feeling like a superhero and so proud of yourself. Take a moment to think about all the incredible things you manage to accomplish every day across your personal and professional life and BE PROUD, you have totally got this!