Whether you’ve been forced to return to work due to financial constraints, or whether you simply don’t want to give up your career, being a working parent is tough. Not only is it almost impossible to keep up with your never-ending list of daily tasks, but it’s also pretty draining on your emotions too.
It’s not uncommon for working parents to feel constantly guilty. Being at work full-time, means you often miss important events and the general guilt at being away from your child can be difficult to handle.
If you’re struggling to find a good balance between work and life, below you’ll discover some top tips that can help.
1. Prepare Everything You Need The Night Before
One of the biggest challenges of being a working mom, is the morning struggle to get you and your child ready. If you find mornings difficult, it can be a huge help to prepare as many things as you can the night before.
Although the only thing you likely feel like doing when you get home from work and the kids have been put to bed, is relaxing on the sofa, a little prep work can be really worthwhile. Cleaning the kitchen and preparing what everyone is going to eat for breakfast will save bundles of time in the morning. Lay out the clothes you and the kids will be wearing the next day.
These tasks don’t take long but they will save you an impressive amount of stress and time in the morning.
2. Invest In A Family Calendar
It can be really difficult keeping up with everything going on in the family. Appointments, schedules, bills and upcoming birthdays are just some of the things you’re supposed to remember, on top of those spreadsheets, meetings and appointments at work. Investing in a family calendar can help you to keep on top of upcoming events and help you plan things in advance.
It could be a good idea to use Google Calendar. That way, you can even check it on your smartphone while you’re at work. So, if any work events are coming up, you can check to see whether they coincide with any family commitments you have going on and schedule around them where need be.
If you have a nanny, make sure they have access to the calendar too so they can easily see which activities your child has.
3. Make A Pact To Be 100% Present At Both Home And Work
This is probably the toughest tip to follow, but if you can master it you’ll find you feel a lot less stressed out. The key is to ensure when you’re at home you’re 100% switched off from work, then when you’re at work you’re 100% present there.
It’s typically more difficult to switch off from family while you’re at work than it is the other way around. However, if you make it a habit to switch off your work cell and resist the urge to talk or think about work while you’re at home, it will make you feel a lot less guilty about giving 100% while you’re at work. Which brings us on to the next tip…
4. Let The Guilt Go
Feeling guilty while you’re at work is inevitable. However, it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. If you catch yourself feeling guilty for being at work, rather than at home with your child, turn it around and think of the positives of you being at work.
Besides the obvious financial benefits such as paying the bills, think about the fact that your job is allowing you to pay for things for your child to improve their way of life. You’ll be able to contribute towards their college education, if they need something you’ll be able to get it for them. While money certainly isn’t everything, it can be really stressful as a parent when you don’t have it.
Of course, there are going to be days where you do feel guilty so being able to accept there will be good days and bad days is important. Another great tip to deal with it is to meet other moms in the same position. The internet is fantastic for connecting busy working moms and dads, and even have our own forum we’d love to have you join!
5. Ask Your Employer For A More Flexible Schedule
If you haven’t already, it’s worth asking your employer for a more flexible schedule. A lot of working moms are reluctant to do this as they think it makes them look bad as an employee. Moms today often feel like they need to be perfect at everything they do. They’re afraid of looking weak and unprofessional if they allow their family life to affect their job.
However, coming up with a flexible schedule can benefit your employer just as much as it benefits you. Thanks to technology, these days it’s possible to do a lot of work from home. So, employers are much more open to let their employees do a few days a week away from the office.
You can also ask to adjust the hours you work, either lengthening your hours on certain days, or agreeing to come in later or earlier – whichever suits your schedule.
If your employer cannot offer much in the way of flexibility, you can always strategically choose your vacation days, allowing you to spend a few days at the end of each month at home with the family.
6. Invest In Excellent Childcare
One thing that’s going to give you peace of mind when you’re stuck in the office is knowing you have excellent, reliable childcare in place. So, ask friends, family or colleagues for references of nannies they may have used.
It’s important to interview different nannies to see which one is a good fit for your family. If possible, arrange a playdate to see just how the nanny interacts with your child. This may need to be a paid playdate, but it does give you a good idea of whether they are the right candidate for the job. They should have a lot of experience, be fully qualified and have excellent references to back up their listed experience.
7. Surround Yourself With Reminders Of Your Child
If you’re leaving a baby or toddler at home, it’s going to be especially tough. Sometimes it’s impossible to switch off and not worry about how they’re getting on without you. So, a good way to get through the guilt, upset and worry is to surround yourself with reminders of your child at work.
Place pictures on your desk, or have photos and videos with you on your phone. That way, when you are missing them you can look at the photos and videos and resist the urge to check in. If you do want to check in, do so on your breaks. This can make the world of difference on those really rough days.
8. Plan Meals Ahead Of Time And Shop Online
Mealtimes can be one of the hardest things to organize when you’re a busy working mom. So, to make it a lot easier, it’s worth creating a meal plan for the week ahead and doing your grocery shopping online.
Heading out to the grocery store with your little one can be a time-consuming and very stressful task. So, when you’re already exhausted after a long working day, being able to have the groceries delivered right to your door can make a massive difference.
9. Plan Fun Family Time Whenever You Can
When you do spend a lot of time working, it becomes even more crucial to ensure you schedule lots of special family time. This can be done both at weekends and during the week.
If time is limited, such as on weeknights, you can do something as simple as a family movie night. At weekends, go out for the day or have a family picnic. Even if your little one is too young for a lot of activities, just you being there with them will help you to bond with one another.
Family time is precious so try to come up with regular fun activities you can do together when you’re not at work.
10. Consider Switching Jobs
Now this tip isn’t going to apply to everyone. However, if you’ve tried everything and your job just isn’t allowing you to develop a healthy and happy work/life balance, it could be time to look for another job.
The trouble is, if you stay in a job that’s making you constantly stressed and it’s affecting your family dynamic, eventually it’s going to lead to burnout. It’s also going to lead to resentment and constant arguments with your partner.
Obviously, it’s not easy simply quitting a job and finding a new one. However, it is possible and sometimes needed if it’s starting to affect your life in a negative way.
Overall, finding a good work and life balance isn’t easy. However, the above tips can really help. Above all else, remember you’re just one person and you don’t have to be perfect at everything. Working doesn’t make you a bad mom and you’re definitely not alone.
Have any tips of your own to share? Let us know how you’ve made it through the difficulties of being away from home by sharing your experiences below!