Ambitious Career and Great Parenting Can Coexist

Having children is one of life’s greatest joys—there’s no doubt about it. Naturally, you want to provide for your family and give them the best things that life has to offer, and rising to the ranks in your professional life is often the answer to that. Unfortunately, a thriving career can also be the threat that pulls you away from spending quality time with your family, and you might end up making painful choices between the two. That doesn’t have to be the case.

While there’s no surefire way to ensure that you’re on top of both your career and family life at the same time, there are ways for you to strike a healthy and happy work-life balance so you can still chase your dreams and still take good care of your family. Here are eight tips for you to consider.

Be sensitive about one’s impact on the other

How you live your personal life affects your professional life, and the opposite is true as well. When you’re stressed at home, you can’t just transform yourself into a different person when you show up at the office. You need to see how personal issues are impacting your work and vice versa. Be honest with yourself if one is truly diminishing your capacity in the other. By admitting to yourself that you have a problem, you take the first major step toward finding a solution.

Understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution

There’s no one surefire way to effectively juggle parenting and work—every case will be different. It’s a game of trial and error, and you have to discover what works for you and your family. Regardless if you work from home, manage your own business, or even if you’re a single parent—as long as you have the support of people around you, you may be able to create a plan that will allow you to successfully navigate being a parent and professional. You don’t have to go at it alone, so don’t be afraid to involve your family, friends, co-workers, and even a former spouse in building your plan.

Compartmentalize

Most of your battles between work and life will be fought in the mind. Many employees take their work home with them, but doing this will only add to your stress as a parent. Mentally speaking, you need to set boundaries between work and home. When you arrive at your front door, set your mind toward relaxing and enjoying time with your loved ones. Likewise, when you get to the office, focus on getting tasks done so you’ll have less work to worry about when the clock strikes five. This may be a lot difficult to achieve if you work from home, but boundaries are crucial if you want a healthy balance between your life’s different aspects.

Quality, not quantity

Sacrifice on the job can take many forms: long hours, stress, trips out of town—all these can be physically taxing and make it hard to have a personal life. These can make you feel guilty inside, thinking that you’re not spending as much time with your family as you should. But instead of striving for quantity, go for the quality. A few minutes of daily quality time does more for your relationship with your family than hours of time together when you feel stressed or are rushing to get out the door. Focusing on true quality time with your family also means that work gets its share of quality time as well. In the end, you’ll feel less guilty about the way you manage your hours.

Share responsibilities with your spouse

For modern married couples, success comes by being on the same page with responsibilities, and this is where good communication becomes essential. Try to share and rotate parenting responsibilities as appropriate. This can be achieved by going through both of your weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly schedules and adjusting as necessary. Make it a goal to function as one unit instead of separate entities. Through level-headed discussions and negotiations, you may develop a plan that divides parenting and household responsibilities in a fair and equitable way.

Involve your kids as well

Your role as a parent is not to cater to your kids’ every whim—it’s to help them grow into well-adjusted, responsible, independent, and conscientious adults. And so when you look at successful parents, you’ll find that they make an effort to avoid over-indulging their kids, as they understand that this impedes rather than helps their growth in becoming mature, responsible adults. Let your kids pitch in with the chores, solve their own problems, and experience failures in a constructive manner. Don’t be afraid to mete out punishment when needed. Listen to their opinions regarding family decisions. Set clear expectations for how you want your child to behave whether or not you’re present, and let them take control of their actions.

Talk to your employer

Your employer is far from a static observer in your career. In fact, they have a stake in it. When you do well, the company does well too. And so the company has a role to play in your job satisfaction. Talk to your manager about your load, schedule, and priorities. If anything in your personal life keeps you from being focused at work, discuss it with your superior immediately. Don’t wait until your work deteriorates. Your employer may have employee programs in place that can help you resolve your personal struggles and provide you with the support and adjustments you need to succeed in both areas of your life.

Seek help from other parents

Goes without saying that you’re going to need all the help you can get. Talk with other parents to learn about their experiences in raising their kids while upholding their careers. Who knows? You may be able to find some whose struggles are no different than yours, and you may be able to glean valuable insights from them. By sharing and connecting with other parents, you may be able to come up with solutions you’ve never thought of before.

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