In today’s economy many families with children have 2 working parents. This is becoming the new “normal.” Where in my family my dad was the sole wage earner while I was growing up, there is no way we – the family I’ve created with my husband – could live comfortably on only one income.
“In 2014, 69% of couple families with at least one child under 16 were dual-earner families, up from 36% in 1976. Among dual-earner families, almost three-quarters had two parents working full time in 2014.” (source: StatsCan report Employment patterns of families with children)
While I’m no expert in maintaining a work-life balance, I have been doing it for a few years now. Emma is almost 9, so that’s more than 8 years of working and parenting with a full-time working spouse. And let’s be honest, he actually works 50+ hours a week!
Here are a few tips and things I’ve learned to help us thrive as working parents!
Tell your boss and coworkers that family comes first.
Keeping everyone informed is best. If you suddenly need to leave the workplace for a child’s illness or injury, it won’t be completely unexpected. In my case I also occasionally take a day off to chaperone a class trip or provide other help to the school. As long as my workplace has advance notice they are very amenable to me taking the odd days off to spend time with my children at school.
Get routines in place.
We exist on a daily routine and a weekly routine. My shifts at work are different from day to day, and our extra-curriculars happen on a weekly schedule. I’ve actually created a post about what our routine looks like.
It’s taken us a few years to be comfortable in our routines. Often they need tweaking every September due to new schedules and extra-curricular interests. I try every September to use one of those big calendars with lots of room in each box. I start out well, but I often fall out of that habit!
This tip applies to both work life and home life. If I need to move shifts around at work to accommodate school activities I just ask. But the flip side of that is being flexible for your co-workers as well. If you can step in and switch a shift with someone else who needs it they’ll often be happy to return the favour. And that goes for evening or weekend time you want to spend out without the family. Be sure you and your spouse discuss kid duties and time to yourselves as well. If everyone is on the same page, life flows more smoothly, am I right?
Have a few babysitter options.
We had our babysitter leave for college last fall. That threw us for a bit of a loop. We’re lucky to have family in town who will help us out when we need it. And we found another great babysitter close by, so it all worked out. But it’s good practice to have more than one person you can call on when you just need to have someone else put your kids to bed. (Or in case your favourite actor releases a movie that your kids should not see for at least 10 more years!) If there are a few people you can call, it’s pretty likely one of them can come watch your kids.
If you are just starting back to work after having a baby I’m sure things seem overwhelming. I felt the same way. I was so worried about missing things in my young child’s life I created myself some serious anxiety. But believe it or not, it does get easier. My kids loved their daycare, and now they love going to school. We have had some rough patches, but they are often a stage as well. I recently created a post about having Mom Confidence. Go read it. If you aren’t there yet, you will be. I promise.
Life is non stop learning and growing. For the children, and for us, the parents. You will find a routine that works. You will be comfortable living your working parent lifestyle. It will happen. Be open, be flexible, be confident, and you’ll find what works for you.
If you’re struggling, let’s hear about it! Share in the comments, or send me an email if you just want a sympathetic ear. I’ve been there. So have many others. I want to provide support for working parents everywhere. (Note: I have no background in anything medical or psychological – I just have some experience to draw on.)
Share any other tips you may have to help working parents thrive in their busy lives. The comment section is waiting!
great post jess 🙂
Thanks Darlene. 😀
Thanks for this uplifting post, Jess.
You’re welcome Chandra. I’m happy to share some of my experience. 😀
Thanks for the tips! It’s nice to hear from moms who can relate!
It’s hard to keep your family first when you feel tied to the schedule of a job sometimes. Those of us who have understanding employers are very fortunate.
It really is a struggle. Having a workplace where they “get it” is so great – I wish everyone had that opportunity. Thanks for visiting Lexie!
Great tips Jessica! Especially the point about everyone being on the same page. So important.
It is important, but sometimes it’s hard to get there. There I days I totally feel judged when I have to leave work early for some reason-or-other. But I try hard to be present and not let other’s impressions irk me. Working parents have real struggles and I would love to hear that everyone is able to do what they need to for a work-life balance!
It can be challenging juggling home and work life. My husband and I are also church leaders. As you have stated, order is required and an element of flexibility when life does not go exactly to plan. We plan our week ahead and ensure our diaries are synced to avoid double bookings.
That’s a great strategy Phoenicia. Patrick and I should do the same! His schedule often changes every other day, so there’s a bonus challenge in there too. I have to try to keep my routine set so he knows when he can and can’t pick up extra tasks in his week. It’s been working for us for a few years now – and I finally feel like I know where I’m supposed to be when. Of course now summer is coming which changes everything!
Good tips Jess, working and raising a family is a juggling act and being flexible and having an understanding and flexible boss can make life so much easier!
Thank you for linking with the #MMBC.
So many balls in the air at one time – you are so right Deb! I am fortunate to work with a group of people who are (usually) very understanding. I wish everyone could have that benefit.
The routines are so important. We have a 18 month old and he needs the routines just as much as we do – especially in the morning. It makes it so much less stressful and everybody leaves home on time.
Kids thrive on routine, don’t they? I know mine used to turn into total cranky-pants if the days didn’t run “as usual.” (Sometimes they are still cranky-pants, but they are somewhat more manageable now!)
These are some really great tips and advice. It certainly let isn’t easy juggling work and family life. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs trying to find the balance but it does start to work itself out with practice. As you saying being flexible and ensuring everyone knows family comes first are really good tips that hopefully make those mad dashes out of the office that little bit easier. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun
Happy to join! I think some of the balance has to happen inside yourself. If you know what you want, and what is most important, then it really doesn’t matter what others think of you and your lifestyle needs. Am I right?