A Guide to Being a Proactive Working Parent
Parenthood is a joyful experience that is often accompanied with stress. Zero Gravity Tables surveyed a group of recent and experienced parents to address common challenges that parents face while trying to balance work and family.
There never seems to be enough hours in a day, especially if you are juggling work and a family.
Create a family calendar to plan out family events, extracurricular activities, doctor's appointments, grocery store trips and such. If you're a family that has an extremely busy calendar, color coding different categories can be extremely helpful. Depending on the age of your child(ren), consider including them in the process! Decide on a day to set aside 15 minutes each week and prepare for the week ahead. The type of calendar you use depends on what will be most convenient for you - it could be a traditional calendar that you hang up in the kitchen/hallway or maybe it is a cloud-based solution like Google Calendar that you can share with your spouse and/or babysitter. Some find that physical whiteboard calendars are best if you want something physical because it allows you to easily move around different appointments and events if they are rescheduled or cancelled without creating a mess.
When possible, prepare for the next day the night before. This can include everything from prepping breakfast and lunch for the following day, laying out clothing for the next day, prepping the coffee maker, packing backpacks or work bags ahead of time, etc. Whatever it may be, you should always aim to ask yourself the question: What can I do to help my future self out?
Always have a contingency plan. Crises happen and that's a part of life that has to be accepted. However, crises are significantly less stressful if you have a backup plan. Make sure you have a backup caregiver that you can call on the fly if your usual babysitter gets sick, your flight home gets delayed, etc.
Increase productivity at work.
Having children doesn't mean you have to all of a sudden be less productive at work, but you do have to make a critical evaluation of how you are spending your time at work.
Schedule in 15-20 minutes every other week to review where you can save time and be more productive. Having children doesn't mean you have to all of a sudden be less productive at work, but you do have to make a critical evaluation of how you are spending your time at work. Are you able to train a junior associate in on writing the meeting agenda or the first draft of the finance reports? Are all of your weekly meetings necessary or can they be reduce to biweekly or even monthly? Is it more productive for you to check your emails throughout the day and get distracted from a long term project or can you allocate an amount of time in the mornings and afternoons to review your inbox?
By making your schedule more lean, you will be able to accomplish more noteworthy projects and demonstrate to your boss and yourself that you are a valuable and productive team member.
Easier said than done, right? Self-maintenance is critical to not burning out in the long run.
Find a way to relieve stress. Different things will work for different people and much of it depends on how much free time (if there is such a thing even exists) you feel like you have.
Perhaps it is a 5 minute meditation before going to bed or going for a walk/the gym during lunch. Maybe it is a morning or bedtime routine that brings you peace. Your children need you, your spouse needs you, and your work needs you. In order to be successful in all these areas, you have to find something healthy that recharges you. There is no right or wrong - but ideally it should be a healthy and sustainable behavior that you can integrate in your regular routine.
When you are a working parent, you face unexpected challenges all the time but that isn't necessarily a negative thing. Just remember that you can overcome whatever obstacles come your way through persistence!