During a recent experience in the airport, I overheard the woman sitting next to me talking on the phone. And while I was slightly annoyed at being within earshot of her conversation since she was really putting it all out there, she said a few things that got me thinking. Immediately, the Work Life Management expert in me began assessing her predicament as if she were a paying client.
Over and over, this woman spewed about her lack of skill as it related to juggling her parental and professional duties—there’s too much on her plate, she lacked focus, and she didn’t have anything left when it came to coming home and being a wife and mother.
In a word, she was failing at, as she put it, the “working mom” thing. And after listening to her complaints, I would have to agree. I am sure we all feel like a failure at some point as it relates to managing our families and our careers, but we don’t have to be. There may be no such thing as a true balance between work and life but working parents can create daily habits that can assist them at tackling their personal and professional seamlessly and with less stress.
There’s a reason why you are failing at being a working parent. And I am here to help break them down to you so you can improve on them and get the best out of both of your worlds successfully.
Reason 1: You are trying to do it all
I know that the media would like us to believe that you can have it all, but in reality, you can’t. The sooner we all realize this, the better. When you try to do it all, it ends up being a recipe for disaster. So what’s the answer? Prioritize the things you must do and want to do. Forget the word balance and replace it with the word prioritize for better management of your personal and professional life. Do what is most important and leave the rest alone. Create useful boundaries at both work and home so that you aren’t overworked. This will make you more efficient, less stressed, and instead of feeling overwhelmed, you will feel full—in a good way. Don’t beat yourself up over things that didn’t make your list of priorities; you and your family will be better for it.
Reason 2: You don’t take enough time out for yourself
In the midst of taking care of others, we fail to take care of ourselves. So to counteract this, create regular downtime in your schedule for YOU. And yes, put it in your schedule as a priority because if you don’t solidify it and make it a habit, alone time will fall by the wayside. Just like you invest time in your family, your career, your relationships, invest time in yourself as well. You will be glad that you did.
Reason 3: You are riddled with guilt
This one is mostly for the women reading this post. Being a working parent is hard enough, but when you are a working parent that is a mom (I try to stay away from the term working mom because, hey, do we use the term working dad?) we sometimes experience working parent guilt. Why? There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be a mom and a success in her career field. And while some may want you to feel bad for this choice, there is no comprehensive study on the face of the earth that says a child that is brought up with a stay at home parent is better than one who was brought up by working ones. Actually, recent studies indicate that when it comes to parenting, quality is better than quantity. So stop it with the working parent guilt that some may try to place on you because of their opinions. Opinions aren’t facts, but the way you run your family and career are indeed real stuff. Throw those negative (and often incorrect) notions out the window and do you!
Reason 4: You fail to have systems in place
As with anything that requires management, you must have systems or parenting hacks in place to make your machine as well-oiled as can be. Menu plan and prep for easier, more organized evenings. Don’t conduct work in the home between “prime time” hours for family time and bonding. Carpool and share tasks with others so you aren’t overwhelmed. Plan as much as you can and create systems in your home that can bode well for you and your brood.
Reason 5: You focus on the wrong things
Okay, this one may be more for the ladies, too. That is because we are often more emotional, and tend to focus on things that really don’t matter. We can get caught up in appearances and the way things look and what others are doing while keeping up with the Joneses on Facebook and Instagram. Log out of The Gram and focus on what’s important, and you will truly begin to appreciate what you have while realizing what you have isn’t half bad!
Reason 6: You over-schedule yourself; and your kids
Full disclosure here—I’ve been guilty of this myself. It’s time we rein in (and again—prioritize) what is most important. Do your kids really need both piano and cello lessons? Does Little Suzy really like soccer or are you living vicariously through her? Do you really need to be in three book clubs? Get to the root of why you are involving yourself and your kids in these activities and then prioritize and scale back on the activities that really aren’t necessary. Being busy doesn’t mean you are being productive. And if it isn’t productive and meaningful, why do it?
Reason 7: You don’t tag team
Most of you have a spouse, a partner, a co-parent that can also help out. We often do things on our own without thinking about the fact that there is someone else there who can also assist us. So tap them in and have them pick up some slack. Take turns picking up the kids from karate practice. Perhaps you both can trade days cooking meals or doing the meal prep. It’s assumed that women are supposed play this role, but most men can do it and most of them would love to be more involved. So conquer Work Life Management as a true team.
Now that you know and understand how to manage your Work Life better for a fuller, happier life, you can turn this thing around. I challenge you to change the habits above into ones that nurture your personal and professional life while giving you a peace of mind. Are you ready to change from failure to a successful working parent?