School drop offs and pickups, sports, class events and everything else that goes along with having kids is difficult enough to juggle, layer on top of that a career and things can get overwhelming quickly.
I am currently a full-time working mom of a 7- and 4-year-old. While every situation is different, after having my son it made the most sense for me to return to work. And from that moment forward my workdays have looked a lot different. I am fortunate that my company offers a remote working option which allows additional flexibility so I can bring my best self to both work and family time. I am sharing some real tips that have helped me balance work life and home life from one working parent to another.
Communicate your schedule
If you know school drop-off and pick-up times tend to be the same, mark it on your calendar and tell your team. Yes, meetings may occasionally require you to adjust your schedule, but if people know, they are much less likely to book time during those windows.
You’ve heard of the walking meeting? Enter the laundry folding meeting or the tidy-up meeting. It can be hard to find enough time in the day to complete all the chores. Find a meeting that doesn’t require you to be on screen and take that time to do some household chores. I find I can focus and listen better while doing an activity like this vs. when sitting in front of my computer tempted to check email.
Take time off
This goes for everyone, not just working parents. It is so important to take time off to disconnect from work and recharge. Not only do I like to take a proper vacation at least once a year with my family, but I also suggest taking mental health days here and there while kids are still in school and daycare. A day to relax without the kids gives you a chance to enjoy time alone doing something just for you.
Don’t feel like you have to do it all
There will be many opportunities throughout the year for you to volunteer at your kids’ school or attend their holiday parties, don’t feel like you need to do it all. Have a talk with your kids about which ones are most important to them and why you cannot attend all school events. Or if you are lucky enough to live around family have a grandparent, aunt, or uncle attend – a lot of times it’s more fun to have a variety of people attend these events.
Take time for yourself during the workday
Once the workday ends and the chaos of family life starts it can be hard to find a quiet moment. Take 15 or 30 minutes every day to do something for yourself whether that be a walk around the block, a quick yoga session, eating your lunch outside or just being still.
Set a solid start and end time
While this can be difficult, especially when dealing with co-workers in different time zones, try to set a start and end time for yourself and stick to it. This allows you to focus on work during those hours and take time for you and your family at the end of the day.
Be open and honest
Be willing to have conversations with your manager about how you are feeling. Mental health is an important topic and if you aren’t taking time to focus on yourself you cannot do your best work or be your best self. If you aren’t communicating, you won’t be able to get the help that is needed.
Take the sick day
Let’s be real, when kids are in daycare and school, they are bringing home all the germs. When my son started daycare, I felt like he was sick constantly which meant I needed to be home to take care of him. When I eventually got sick from the same bug, I felt like I needed to work through it instead of taking the time to care for myself. Not caring for yourself can in turn lead to more sick time.
Overall being a working parent is hard, it helps to be part of an organization that recognizes this and offers support. Virgin Pulse offers resources to help employees stay focused on their health and wellbeing. To learn more visit us at www.virginpulse.com.
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