Are you a working parent? Or do you plan to be one someday? It’s a very fulfilling lifestyle, but only if you are willing to spend the time and effort to create a work/life balance that works for you and your family.
Life happens, especially when you’re a parent. I’ve been a working mother for several years now, and the most important thing I’ve learned is that your work should adapt to your life, not the other way around. There has to be some give and take so you have time for the meaningful non-work things that are important to you without sacrificing your career.
What that means in practice is that you have to figure out your priorities and build your lifestyle around those things. That doesn’t mean that you only do things for your family and ignore your career. Rather, it means that you decide what you want in your life and your business, and then you make a realistic plan to achieve those goals.
Create a routine that works for you
One of the hardest parts of being a working parent is the ratio of things to do vs. the time you have to do them. It’s essential to find efficient ways to take care of the tasks that you need to get done.
I’ve found it helpful to modify my routine on workdays. Instead of getting ready for the office at home, I do my hair and makeup at work (where it’s quieter and less chaotic).
I also keep a spare change of clothes at the office. Kids are messy, and they seem to have a laser targeting system for depositing snot, spit-up, and food on nice clothing. Knowing I have a change of clothes at the office means I’m not panicking about a stain on my blouse before a meeting or conference call and lets me get to the office sooner.
Your ideal routine might look different than mine. Getting ready at work might not be something you want to do. But the point is to figure out things that do work for you and incorporate those changes into your routine.
As a parent, it’s easy to put yourself at the bottom of the care list. It’s natural (and good!) to put your children first, especially when they’re infants and toddlers. But it’s vital to take care of yourself as well. Not just because self-care enables you to care for your family better, but because you are a person who deserves to be cared for.
For most people, especially parents, self-care doesn’t happen automatically. In my life, self-care only happens when I block out time for it in my work calendar. That means I schedule things like massages and lunch dates with my husband.
Self-care has a connotation of being all about spa days and indulgent food and a glass of wine after work. And all of those things can be part of a self-care routine. But self-care can also look like eating well, making time to exercise, scheduling regular medical checkups, hydrating well, and getting enough rest. The key is to figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself, and then dedicate the time and resources to do those things.
Be realistic and get the help you need
Having kids is what truly made me a better business owner. Sounds strange, right? But it’s true. Going on maternity leave and then returning to work as a parent made me recognize all the places where I need help.
I can see all the stuff I was able to do before kids, and I know that I just can’t do all of that now. Having children has also helped me clarify my boundaries and know what I will and won’t do. So I have to be creative and figure out how to ensure those things still get done.
And what that means in a practical sense is that I get as much help as possible! I try to be realistic about my time and decide how best to use it. Sometimes that means accepting free help when it’s offered. And more often, it means putting things on the back burner for a while or outsourcing them to others.
It’s OK to admit you can’t do it all and to get help. Maybe you take on fewer clients during the years when your children are young or hire more team members. Or maybe you outsource some household tasks, like cleaning and grocery shopping, so you can use your time at home to relax with your family.
The overall goal is to figure out what trade-offs you’re willing to make. Decide which things are non-negotiable and focus on those first. Then, get creative and ask for help with all the rest.
Create a life that works for you and your family
We all get 24 hours a day, no more, no less. Each of us must decide how we want to use that time. You can’t do it all – no one can! So decide what things are most important to you and prioritize them. Then, make a plan for everything else, whether that means putting it on hold for a while, dropping it entirely, or hiring someone to take care of it.
Are you a working parent? How do you balance your career and your family? Give us your best tips in the comments!
Want more career advice and tips like this? Join the Amplified Planning community. When you sign up, you’ll receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our online forum where you can learn from financial planners at all stages of their careers. Join Amplified Planning today!