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!