How to Balance Work and Parenting

Working and parenting are endeavors that require considerable amounts of time and effort. If you are responsible for maintaining employment and raising children, you may find that filling the myriad requirements of both tasks can be challenging. With some careful thought and planning, it is possible to successfully incorporate both roles into your life. Follow these suggestions for how to balance work and parenting.


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    Manage your time wisely.
    • Keep a calendar that you use for both career and family. This puts equal priority on both schedules, and enables you to make plans with both schedules in mind.
    • Follow the same routine each day. When your children know exactly what to expect and what is expected of them, it is much easier to keep them on task and acting autonomously, which can be a time-save and a stress-reducer, especially when you're in a hurry.
    • Prepare for mornings the night before. Avoid time-consuming morning debates by picking the following day's outfits before bed, and lessen the morning hustle by pre-packing lunches and backpacks.
    • Take advantage of the earliest part of the day. The few hours before your children wake up are great for personal time, and can be used to exercise, read, shower or just enjoy a cup of coffee.
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    Ask your employer about telecommuting. Even working from home only a few hours a week can provide you with the extra time you may need to spend with your children and/or catch up on housework, especially when you consider drive time.
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    Get involved in your children's schooling.
    • Make it a point to help your children with their homework. Not only does this promote their academic well-being, but it is also quality time spent together.
    • Use sick or personal days to attend school functions and field trips.
    • Combine work and parenting by volunteering your professional skills to the PTA. For example, if you are a chef, then you may volunteer to donate pastries to the bake sale, or if you are a bookkeeper, you may offer to be the PTA treasurer. Focus on things you can do even if your work schedule doesn't allow for you to be at the school in person.
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    Develop a partnership with your childcare provider. Having a personal relationship with your children's caregiver can relieve a lot of the stress associated with working and parenting. The more involved you are with your children's home away from home, the less you worry about them when you can't be with them.
    • Choose your caregiver carefully. It is important that you and the person who will be watching your children while you are at work have similar child-rearing philosophies. This provides consistency and stability for the children, and reinforces your home-based parenting efforts.
    • Communicate openly and regularly about any behavioral issues you notice your children having at home, and work with your caregiver to formulate a plan for countering problem behavior on both fronts.
    • Visit the childcare facility on a regular basis, even when you are not there to pick up or drop off the kids, just to stay involved and aware of what your children's day is like.
    • Contribute things like games and snacks, and volunteer to help when you can.
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    Create a sick plan. When your child gets sick, it is important that you are able to ensure your child's care and handle it in a way that does not threaten your work reputation or position. Prepare for such occurrences in the following ways:
    • Save some of your own sick days for when you have a sick child.
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    • Ask your boss about bringing work home in the case that you have to leave work to pick up a sick child. That way, you may be able to avoid missing valuable work hours.
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    • If your childcare provider does not accept sick children, then arrange for a local caregiver who can come to your home on an on-call basis.
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    Delegate tasks. Lessen your load by assigning household chores to each family member, making the children responsible for their own personal hygiene (showers, brushing teeth, fixing hair, etc.) and requesting that each family member cook 1 night of the week. Just be sure to keep age-appropriateness in mind.
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    Plan meals ahead of time. Try these techniques to save on time and effort:
    • Use the crock pot to slow-cook meals while you are at work.
    • Double the recipe when you make dinner, then freeze the extra in an airtight container until you are ready to bake it.
    • Make a casserole the night before, then reheat it in the oven when you get home from work.
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    Make the most of your family time. In order to balance work and parenting, try to leave your work at work and keep your focus on family when you are at home. This may mean turning off your cell phone, not checking your email, scheduling family activities, making it a point to eat dinner together, turning the television off and/or talking about how your day went.
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    Take some time for you, outside of working and parenting. Dedicate a regular block of time just for doing whatever it is you feel like doing. By taking a break from your day-to-day responsibilities, you not only rest your mind, but also rejuvenate yourself for when it's time to get back to your duties.
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    Nurture your adult relationships. If you are married or attached, it is important that you and your partner engage in enjoyable activities outside of the responsibilities associated with working and parenting. Additionally, making time to socialize with your peers is an important part of staying balanced.

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Categories: Workplace Conflicts Coping and Issues