Four tips to help you juggle work and parenthood
As I’m about to head off to have my second child, I thought it’d be timely to write about juggling full-time work and motherhood.
When I first returned to work after having my first child, there was an overwhelming sense of guilt that I was no longer spending that time with my child. Part-time work was soon replaced by full-time, and it dawned on me that my daughter’s childcare teachers were in fact spending more of her awake hours with her than I was.
Feeling guilty is one of those things that affects all parents, especially in today’s world. Most of us can’t afford not to work. But money aside, I feel that there just isn’t enough support for parents to make that choice between work and fulltime parenthood.
But rather than focusing on what is out of our control, I’ve found that by shifting my mind set on what work means to me, I was able to alleviate some of that guilt. So here are a few tactics that may help you juggle work and parenthood:
Keeping one’s identity
Whether you’re self employed or an employee, your work is probably one of the main pillars of your personal identity. When you meet someone new, one of the first questions you’re most likely to ask them is ‘What do you do?’. If you’re as lucky as me to have found work that you truly enjoy, then ‘what you do’ is a big part of who you are. This is especially true for those who have started their own business – they’ve taken that leap of faith to go on their own, not necessarily to make more money, but to do something that they’re passionate about and to do it better than anyone else.
So by heading back into the workforce, you’re simply strengthening your identity (not to mention to provide a better future for your family). Having a strong identity can only make you a better parent for your children.
Show your children what you do
When you wave goodbye to your child in the morning at drop-off time, do you ever put yourself in their shoes and consider what they think about your work? Do they know why mummy/daddy is disappearing for most of the day, only to reappear at pick-up time again?
I’ve found that by taking my daughter to my office has helped tremendously for both of us to cope with our time apart. Not only does she see that I have her photos and artworks proudly on display, she also gets to meet the people that I work with. While most of us may have occupations that are hard for the little ones to grasp (I mean, how do you explain to a two-year-old that you’re in ‘online marketing’?), by showing them something more tangible, like your work place, to your child, will help with their understanding.
Choosing work that you truly enjoy
This may seem like a no-brainer, and for entrepreneurs, this is a path that they’ve already chosen. If you’re going to spend time away from your children, you might as well be doing something you love. By choosing work that you truly enjoy, you’re also setting a great example for your children to follow their passion.
In my case, I’ve chosen to do work that I find challenging and stimulating, and it acts as an intellectual and creative outlet to balance the more emotional side of home life. I find this balance to be vital in helping me get through the tough times, both at work and at home.
Spending quality time with your children
Finally, when you do get to spend time with your children, make that time count. There’s no need to always plan elaborate outings or fill your house with toys. Children will enjoy your company more than any zoo, toy or dvd. And when you do need to use those distractions to help you get through a particularly tiring day, make sure you presence is always available. Don’t sit your child in front of the tv and then walk away, stick around, ask a few silly questions about what they’re watching, laugh with them and watch them grow before your eyes.
is the Marketing Manager at Hotfrog. Vivian writes about small business marketing from her experience as an advertising account manager for thousands of small businesses across metropolitan and regional Australia. The soon-to-be mother of two enjoys sharing great food and films with family and friends.
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