The number one rule for juggling your career with your kids is having a healthy work-life balance. If your career takes precedent you could end up with regrets. Equally, if your career is important to you don’t let resentments build if you’ve opted to be a stay-at-home mum. There’s no right, or wrong answer here. It’s about finding the right solution for you and your family. Flexible working options can offer a halfway house between a full on career and being the yummiest mummy.
Working full-time may be the only option if you are the main breadwinner. There’s still a lot you can do to make the most of a work-life balance and make sure your kids get the best of you, writes Mike James – a stay at home dad blogger partnering with Planday.com.
Bin the guilty feelings
OK, it may be easier said than done, but dwelling on the fact that you’ve made a choice that may suit you more than your kids isn’t going to help. The fact is, there are heaps of reasons why we may have decided to concentrate on our career at the same time as looking after our family. Reach out to other working mums and you’ll quickly learn that you’re not alone. The reasons why working mum’s choose to carve out a career path at the same time as bringing up a family are wide and varied.
Guilt over going back to work after having a baby isn’t uncommon, and it’s not always guilt about leaving the baby. Some mums feel guilty because they’re not coping with motherhood and they can’t wait to get back to the office. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you need some time out. You are still a fantastic mum, and striking a balance between work and family life could be just what you need.
Be happy with your childcare arrangements
Make sure you find quality childcare and don’t rest until you are happy. Create a list of criteria that is important to you and ask your friends and family for recommendations. If you are hiring a nanny, schedule a paid playdate for at least two hours, and make sure your nanny has excellent references before hiring. If you are looking at day nurseries, make sure they have flexible hours. Check out the staff turnover and ask other parents at the gate about the facilities.
Don’t be afraid to switch childcare provider if you’re not happy. Your child will know you are feeling anxious if you’re worried about leaving them.
Have a good sense of humour
Don’t get too het up when things don’t go to plan. It’s bound to happen. You just need to think on your feet and find a solution. Being able to laugh when things don’t go to plan definitely takes the stress out of the situation.
Being prepared the night before will make your mornings go much more smoothly. It’s not uncommon to hear working mums say they feel like they’ve done a day’s work before arriving at the office. Do the packed lunches (that can include your own) and make sure school and work bags are all packed. Make sure school uniforms are all washed and ironed at the weekends ready for the week ahead. Divvy up any chores at home. A rota is a good way to get the kids involved and teaches them great skills about contributing to teamwork and family life.
Communicate with your employer
If it’s not your own business you are running, then make sure you keep communication lines open with your employer about your expectations at work. You’ll likely need time off to see schools plays and parent/teacher meetings, and if your child is poorly. Be clear about how you will manage your workload and be prepared to make up time lost either by taking work home or working later another day. Show you are willing to be flexible. You need your employer on side.
Create special family time and activities
Honing the quality time with your children when you are working is crucial. Nurturing the family dynamic and having fun with your kids is essential to your relationship with them. Family outings (where you don’t talk about work), playing board games, even watching a film together are really important for bonding and spending quality time together. When you are spending special time with your children, don’t be tempted to check your phone or make work calls. Focus 100% them. It’s an opportunity for you to find out more about what they’ve been doing at school, and what interests they are developing.
Don’t forget about your partner
It’s easy when you are juggling work and kids to forget about making time for your partner. It’s important that your children see and respect your special relationship with each other. It’s equally important that resentments aren’t left to build. Going out on a date once a month is a good idea. Be sure to make it a time to talk about things other than work and the kids.
Time for you
Just as it’s important to make time for you and your partner together, it’s equally important that you get some downtime too. Managing work and looking after your family can easily leave you feeling frazzled. Take time to recharge your batteries. Treat yourself to a spa day, or go for a long walk with a friend. Make sure you get a chance to soak in the bath when the little ones are in bed. Doing a weekly exercise class is another great way to fit in some time out. Sometimes simple things like eating well and getting enough rest can make all the difference, but they often fall by the wayside when we are stretched. Showing your kids that you value taking care of yourself isn’t a bad lesson for them at all.
Disclosure: This is a featured post from Mike James. Mike James is a business blogger working from a home office in Brighton, partnering with staff management specialist Planday on this and a series of workplace-focused posts.