Last week, the internet was treated to a delightful dose of parenting reality when a BBC reporter’s professional interview was interrupted by his children. It was delicious chaos, that every parent can relate to.
Sometimes, parenting and careers don’t mix all that well. You want to get ahead at the office, but you need to be home at a regular time to pick up the kids. Or you’d like to come in early and get a head start on the day’s work, but you can’t because you have to get the kids to school first. Or sometimes you’re sidelined for a couple days at a time while the kids are sick or out of school for some reason. It’s tough to figure out how to prioritize being a parent and a career go-getter without sacrificing in one or both areas.
So, what’s the secret?
No really, what’s the secret? I’m sorry if you thought this post was going to have all the answers, because I really don’t think there is a perfect solution. Believe me, I’ve tried! Even with the amazing situation I have at work now, with bosses who respect and appreciate and understand what it takes to be a devoted working parent, there’s just no way I can excel at both.
But there are ways we can minimize the damage and do as best we can.
First of all, you are going to have to let go of the idea that there’s a perfect solution. There’s just not, ok? And that’s ok! We all want as much time as possible devoted to our kids, but we all know that we must work, too. And one day your kids will thank you for that.
So, go easy on yourself, and know that however you work to achieve work/life balance, you’re doing the best you can. If you must pass on a great project at work because you know it will interfere with your kid’s soccer games, as long as you’re not going to lose your job over it, relax. If you decide to choose that project and to miss out on a couple soccer games, relax. Sure, we’d all love to be at every game, but sometimes you have to prioritize yourself or your career if it means you and your family will have a better life.
Live It Up While You Can
When you ARE with your family, make the most of it. Don’t spend your nights and weekends checking your phone, emailing, or any other work stuff. I know it’s hard, but put the phone down and focus on your family. Get outside, go to a movie, or work on an art project together. Anything that puts the focus on the family, instead of work.
Let Go of Guilt
On the flipside, when you’re at work, especially if you’ve had to stay later than normal, try not to let that eat at you. Your kids are being well-cared for, and as soon as you do get home, you’ll get an even bigger hug than normal.
I know for me, whenever I get home later than normal, I often worry more about my wife than the kids. She’s the one that’s had to do all the evening activities we normally do together single-handedly. But to my surprise, she isn’t always in meltdown mode when I get home. Maybe I just expect that because whenever the situation is reversed, I AM in meltdown mode. But that speaks more to how amazing she is than anything else.
So, in summary, take a deep breath, enjoy the fun times when you’re in them, and don’t hold on to your guilty feelings. Your kids love you and want to spend time with you, but they also want you to earn money so you can buy them one of those Hatchimals things. As long as you’re doing the best you can to further your career and be there for your kids, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Don’t let the stress of not being able to have everything perfect get in the way of you living your best life possible.