You don't have to be a supermom
Whether you choose to work outside of the home or whether you need to do so to support your family, it can be difficult to juggle work, home, and family life. It is possible to create a strong and close-knit family while working. What matters most is not how much time your family spends together but that you make the time you are able to spend together special. Finally, it is very important that spend less time and energy worrying and feeling guilty and more time taking care of yourself.
Balancing work and home
Create rituals and routines. Creating schedules will help your family get through the day smoothly. Having a routine will help you fit in family time, even if all you do is eat breakfast and dinner together. These times, although short, can be meaningful ones for your family to talk about what is happening or what has happened that day. Having a set schedule can also help in reducing your frustration since your children will know what is expected of them. In the mornings, they will know what to do without being nagged, from making their bed to brushing their teeth to putting their lunch in their bags. In the evenings, there will be fewer arguments about doing homework, watching TV, or going to bed.
Share the burden. In families with parents who work, everyone needs to pitch in. If you have a partner/spouse, divide up the things you have to get done, like checking homework, preparing dinner, or making lunches. If you come home earlier and are the one who prepares dinner and oversees homework time, your spouse/partner can be the one to oversee the bedtime or morning routine so that neither of you get burned out. If you have an older child, she can help look after a younger sibling after school, run errands, or get dinner started. Even younger children can pitch in by setting or clearing the table or folding and putting away their laundry. If you are a single parent, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If a trusted neighbor or friend has a child in the same school or activity as yours, set up a carpool system and take turns driving the kids around. If a meeting runs late or you are caught up in traffic, it is nice to know you have someone you can call on for help and that your child will be safe and well cared for.
Use the commute. If you spend a significant amount time in a car, bus, or train with your child to get to daycare, school, or work, you can use this as bonding time. Try to avoid being on a cell phone or running through a ‘to do’ list in your head. Talk to your child about his day. Discuss what you will do when you get home. Even if you had an infant or toddler, it will be good for him to hear your voice. Use this time for both of you to unwind. Keep a snack on hand because hungry kids can be cranky kids, and the same goes for adults! If you do not commute with your child, try to give him your full attention for a short time to ask about his day when you get home and before you start looking over the mail or preparing dinner.
Take care of yourself. One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a working parent is to leave work at work and home at home. Sometimes something pressing may come along, like needing to check on a sick child from work, or having to put in extra hours at your job, but it will drive you crazy if you think about work at home and home at work! To help your child better understand the demands of your job, take her to visit your work sometimes, starting from when she is young. It will also help her to appreciate what you do. You should also share with your boss and coworkers that you do have a family, so they understand when parenting duties call. Try to connect with other coworkers who are also parents. If you do not commute with your child, use this time to unwind. Listen to a radio station of your choice, and try not to catch up on phone calls or run through to-do lists in your head. If you do not have a long commute or do commute with your children, take a few minutes when you get home to change into comfortable clothes and take some deep breaths before tackling all the awaits you.
Let things go. Some days, the laundry may pile up or the mail may go unopened. Try not to let these things get to you. Instead, make adjustments in your schedule so that you are using your time well. Instead of stopping at the grocery store on the way home, buy groceries for a few days at a time, and try to go to the store at a time that it is less busy, like after dinner. Sometimes you may have to be flexible when your child’s homework requires your attention or when he forgets to pick up his toys. Just remember that you are already juggling a lot and instead of worrying about being the best mom or the best employee, just be the best working parent you can!