THE RIGHT TOOLS CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING IT ALL AND HAVING TO CHOOSE BETWEEN PARENTING AND A CAREER.
Life isn’t always easy for working parents. Yet, if you look around, you’ll likely see plenty of people who are managing to build careers and raise happy families at the same time. That’s because according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, of workers who have a child living at home, 78 percent say it’s possible to be successful in your career and as a parent. Further, more than half of working parents say they feel equally successful in both of their roles.
What’s their secret? Corralling a career and kids requires lots of flexible prep, an always changing plan of attack that includes certain carefully plotted strategic steps including:
- See if work can be flexible: Flexible working hours benefit both parents and non-parents, but in different ways. For parents with young children, their work schedule can be tied to the baby’s sleep schedule. Parents with older kids may need to work around school or activity schedules. This helps parents be more productive with their time, and makes balancing their work and personal lives easier. According to the CareerBuilder survey, half of workers who are parents (46 percent) have not taken advantage of flexible work arrangements, but of those who have (54 percent), 37 percent say it has not affected their career progress, and 12 percent said it has made a positive impact on it.
- Make “you” time a priority: It’s not being selfish to set aside time to do something you enjoy. Schedule time to hang out with adults and focus more on quality rather than quantity of time. Be flexible and remember that doing something for yourself, even for just a few minutes, is always better than nothing.
- Make a family calendar: Not only will it help you keep on top of things, it’ll encourage your whole family to stay organized and make sure events can be planned for far in advance. According to the research, while the majority of working parents (66 percent) spend at least three hours a day with their kids each day, more than a third (38 percent) have missed a significant event in their child’s life due to work in the last year. More than 1 in 5 (21 percent) have missed three or more events.
- Keep an “it’s done!” list: Uncompleted tasks torture us. Instead of tormenting yourself with an endless list of undone items, keep a brief, informal list of completed items from both work and home. Write down this year’s finished projects, problems solved, your wins — whatever “win” means for you. Then look over this list and remind yourself of how much you’ve done — how much you’ve produced and accomplished, in both spheres. This practice will make your to-do list seem more manageable and your days calmer.
- Give up on perfection: It’s OK if home’s a little messy and meals aren’t cooked from scratch every day. Life is too short to worry. Remind yourself that every family has a system that works for them, and avoid comparing your efforts to others.