Two of the biggest commitments you will ever make in life is to your career and to your children. These two elements tend to pull you in opposite directions, bringing you stress, plus competing for your time and attention. So what can you do? Is it impossible to truly have a successful career while parenting? Does one (or the other) need to suffer or can you really do it all?
Finding the right balance between work and home is vital to the health and happiness of your family, and is also important for your personal growth and your pocketbook.
Here are the three main things you need to ask yourself:
- Do I truly love my career and does it personally fulfill me?
- Home isn’t an option?
- What if you DON’T have a career that truly resonates with you?
Lets dive deeper into the first question:
Do I truly love my career and does it personally fulfill me?
If yes, than you know that you must keep this channel alive and well throughout your parenting years. It’s okay if you purposefully pause when your babies are small and need you most, but if possible, keep the lines of communication open between you and your employer or colleagues or clients so that they know that you are still interested and available.
If possible, try to bring your work home and become a master multi-tasker. Juggling a career from a home office (or even the recliner in the living room) is not always possible or even advised, as it can be distracting to both of your commitments, but there are some types of work with which this works seamlessly. If you happen to be in a line of work that can be done remotely, perhaps with just a laptop in hand, you have the perfect combo for balancing the needs of your children, as well as your career.
If you can work from home, but need quiet space to think or make phone calls, wait for your child to take a nap, hire a young person to watch the children in the other room, or if your kids are older and don’t need your constant presence, give them guidelines for when they can interrupt you. Make a point to take periodic breaks, so that you taking full advantage of the joy of parenting amidst your work day. Try working in short bursts either early in the morning before everyone else is up or later at night after the kids are tucked in bed. In this way, everyone wins.
Home isn’t an option?
If your career is not something you can do from home, then the next solution is to make sure that the time that you spend at work is neither overly extended or terribly draining. Otherwise, you will find that your energies are far too spent even when you are finally able to return home again each day. Do you live far from your workplace? Consider moving closer. Time is too valuable to spend a big chunk of it commuting.
If you have moments of downtime while working, use them to interact with your children so that they feel your presence even if you can’t be right with them. A phone or Skype call, a text message, or sending a picture of what you are doing can help you stay connected to those at home who are missing you. Make sure you also take time off when you can, whether that be for vacations, family time, or just to hold your child when they are sick. Don’t let your work come between you and those you love most.
What if you DON’T have a career that truly resonates with you?
Are you just “going through the motions” so that you can bring home a paycheck? Sometimes, as adults, this is a reality. We have responsibilities. We have bills. In this case, actively consider what you can do to change your circumstances. Does it make more sense to simply become the “stay-at-home” parent? Consider carefully the financial benefits of working vs. paying for childcare.
Ultimately, though, if you want a career, it is incredibly important to find one that lifts you up, makes you smile, and gives you a bounce in your step. The old adage “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life” is so very true. When you are happy in your career, you are a happier person in general, and a happier parent.
Do you have to work full-time or can you work part-time while still making ends meet? Whatever time that you can devote to parenting is time you will never regret. No matter how much you love your WORK, you will never regret the time you’ve spent PARENTING. In the end, that will matter so much more.
After spending many years as a stay-at-home mom, I knew that not only did we need the extra income that I could contribute to the household, but finally I found my niche…my career… a part of me that helped me become a better person. This in turn has helped me inspire my children to also find THEIR PASSION. I am blessed that I can do my work from the comfort of my home, with baby right beside me, so that I can meet her needs, while still meeting my own and contributing to the world at large.
I hope you also find that perfect balance so that you can be the best version of you…for yourself and your family!
Melanie is mom to five energetic kids, including a sweet little toddler. She enjoys homeschooling her children from a peaceful parenting perspective and traveling with her family whenever she can.