Many working parents struggle with the equally important responsibilities of raising a family and providing for them. There is a fundamental need—and for many parents, a real want and desire—to work. However, many simultaneously feel a pull towards home and to be with children, especially young ones. Given these conflicting priorities, how can someone best succeed as parent and employee?
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can utilize as you work to find your own version of balance. Most importantly: abandon the guilt. Guilt that you aren’t there for your child. Guilt that you’re actually glad to be at work with other adults. Let it all go. Check out the resources on the Working Moms Against Guilt website or join a local Working Moms Meetup in your area. Knowing that your feelings are normal and valid will help diminish that guilt and allow you to enjoy both roles.
Trusting your childcare provider will help ease your mind and allow you to more efficiently get your work done during the day. Verify your daycare’s safety and educational quality through organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ HealthyChildren.org.
Take advantage of calendar sharing apps to stay organized and in communication with your partner and childcare provider. Ensuring that you know when and where everyone is supposed to be will allow you to avoid feeling frazzled and give you the peace of mind to focus on whatever is in front of you at the time. Sharing calendars with your partner will also allow the two of you to effectively distribute the load of responsibilities and avoid scheduling conflicts or surprises.
Lastly, be present wherever you are. As much as you can, try to focus on your current environment and those you are with at the time. Challenging as it may be, turning off your work email in the evenings will allow you to enjoy the special time with your family you’ve been craving all day. Similarly, avoiding social media or not watching your nanny-cam at work will allow you to be more productive and consequentially, get home at a reasonable hour. By giving your best to your family or supervisor each day, you’ll feel better about the work you are doing and the balance you are achieving.
The balancing act of work and family is an ever-moving target; you will find various strategies throughout your career and your children’s lives that work at times and lose their value at others. The important thing is to be easy on yourself, recognize the value of your job for your family and continually acknowledge your personal and professional goals.
Looking for more advice and support? Join the Women’s Professional Alliance for their “Juggling Work and Family” event. Gretchen Gagel, DU alum of 1993 and author of 8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom, will be speaking on this nebulous topic and attendees will also have the chance to hear about strategies for parents returning to the work force. The event scheduled for Thursday, September 7th has been cancelled, but will be rescheduled for early 2018. Keep checking back for updated event information on our events page.