Working Parents 101: How To Survive With Family And A Career


Modern parents are caught in a trap of trying to do everything but never managing to do anything well. We feel torn between our family commitments and the demands placed on us by busy jobs, and the result is often acute frustration, feeling that we aren’t doing a particularly good job of either side of our lives.

Balancing work and family life is a bit of a moveable feast that requires flexibility and compromise, and shifts on a daily basis, but there are ways to make the juggling act a little more manageable.

Be Clear On Priorities

When multiple things on multiple fronts are shouting for your attention simultaneously, it’s instinctive to go into headless chicken mode and start fighting the first fire which presents itself.

We are trying to operate on a lot of fronts at once – you may be trying to develop your career, be an involved parent, further your education, run a household, contribute to your community, keep up with a workout regime, or care for aging parents.

All of these things make demands on your time and energy which can easily leave you feeling like you’re running on empty.

To avoid folding under the pressure, there needs to be some form of prioritization in your life.  

Set boundaries which make sense to you, such as always leaving your desk at a certain time and switching your work email notifications off during certain times.

It’s important to understand that what these priorities are will shift over time.

On one week, it may be more important to concentrate more on a large project at work, whereas the next week your child may have a milestone event where you have to be more present and supportive. It’s okay for your number one focus to shift from day to day – try to be agile with it.

Think About A Change Of Venture

There’s a reason that many businesses are launched by parents – aside from all the wisdom, patience and negotiation skills having children teaches you which can come in very handy in the business arena, the flexibility of starting your own company leaves more breathing space for family commitments alongside work.

No one ever said striking out on your own was easy, but if you have a job which lends itself to going self-employed, it could be a good option to look at.  

If your job is open to flexible working arrangements such as part-time hours, a job share or compressed hours you may also benefit from a non-traditional working pattern.

Use an estimated tax payment calculator to try working out the financials and see if you might be able to make the figures work.

Plan Ahead

Working weeks can be very full on, so by preparing ahead of Monday’s arrival, you can really save yourself a huge amount of stress.

Set up a Google calendar for the family where everyone can add their various commitments, and review it on a Sunday evening so you can plan how to manage your week.

Set aside an hour to tackle life admin – batch cooking recipes in advance and freezing them means you don’t have to worry about a healthy meal on a busy night.

It can also help to prep clothes, school bags, gym kits and other things in the evening to make mornings less of a chore.

Try also to plan into your schedule some time for your own interests or relaxation –  you won’t be able to take care of others effectively if your own energy reserves are too low.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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