The Balancing Act: Life as a Working Parent
“Beep…Beep…Beep” it’s 5:45am on a Monday and my alarm clock is loudly ringing in my ear. I slowly awake out of my deep slumber as I realize it is the start of a new week. I get out of bed, shower and get dressed to then spend the remainder of my morning running through my to-do list for the day and coming week. Suddenly, I am pulled away from my thoughts as I hear the cooing of my baby boy in the next room who is now wide awake and demands for my immediate attention.
A year and a half ago, my world was pleasantly turned upside down when I became a first-time parent. What I had always known as being familiar was now suddenly split into managing time and a schedule not only for myself, but for my infant son while still juggling the demands from my career. This is the case for thousands of parents in the workplace who are driven and focused on continuing a successful career while also balancing being a great parent. Despite the challenges at times, I have found that over the last year I have benefited greatly from these obstacles and being a working parent has helped make me a better employee overall. Finding a balance to juggle life’s ever-changing demands in and out of the office is the key to overcoming it all and rising to the top. Here are some of the ways I have found helpful in surviving the chaos of each passing day to help me be the best employee, parent and person I can be.
Multitasking – As obvious as it might be, multitasking in my opinion is one of the most important keys to successfully managing your daily priorities in and out of the office. Of course, everyone would like to say they are a strategic master of multitasking, however, there are always ways to continue improving with life’s ever-changing demands. To help prioritize your tasks, making a calendar and planning your day ahead of time can make all the difference. Blocking off time for specific tasks can make what seemed like an overwhelming day now a more manageable one. By increasing your efficiency in multitasking, it will help to increase your productivity with half the effort.
Support – Having a supportive company and group of colleagues can be the biggest difference between thriving or just trying to survive. It is key to work for a group of leaders and with colleagues who understand what it means to have a work/life balance. Those who support you and allow the autonomy to manage your own success, determining what is going to work best for you and adjust along the way.
Time Management – Prioritizing your day is key. For me, time management means I don’t work on a time-clock. My days do not start at 8am and end at 5pm. It is all about finding the balance of working your way through the day and making yourself available at all times to be productive both at home and in the workplace. Demands never stop and making yourself readily available will help tackle action items as they come rather than letting them build-up and overwhelm you.
Plan Ahead – You can never be too over prepared and you should always have a back-up plan for unpredictable circumstances. Everyone operates in a different way, respectfully. For me, I found that it works best if I plan my day out before I even get it started. I put all my action items on a schedule, blocking off times to prioritize tasks. Going through each day and staying ahead of work and at-home priorities help to make days that once felt overwhelming more manageable.
Organization – There is no “right” way to stay organized, it is all about finding the ways in which work best for you and your lifestyle. However, staying organized overall will help to keep a structure in place and manage multiple things at once giving you the ability to meet demands as a parent and within your career to pursue and meet your goals.
Life is ever-changing and does not slow down. The balancing act of being a working parent pulls you in multiple directions each day, but tackle them as they come, keeping this information in mind and hopefully the days that once seemed overwhelming will come with greater ease.