Being a working parent means literally being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. You are a juggler of many hats, and you spend a lot of time doing for others and not getting enough (or any) credit. This is not to say that you are looking for a pat on the back or acknowledgment, but I am sure you don’t want your hard work to be in vain. But have you heard the slogan, work smarter, not harder? What if I told you that you may be making mistakes as a working parent that can be counterproductive to your goals?
Here are eight working parent mistakes to avoid; things that you may be doing that could be interfering with your progress and personal and professional happiness.
Let’s get into the list, shall we?
1. Apologizing for being a working parent
I once saw someone on Facebook complain that they were the only parent at a daytime recital during school hours while chastising working parents for not “taking time off” to be there. Most working parents want to be at every function, event, recital, program, etc. But when these events take place during the workday, they sometimes are missed. The parent who was degrading the working parents for not being there is entitled to their opinion, but remember, their opinion is just that. Don’t apologize for being a working parent and missing an event. As long as you make it to those events that are vital (conferences, etc.), you are doing the best you can. Make a habit of taking off time every so often for these daytime events. But you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Period.
2. Feeling guilty
Working parent guilt is for the birds. Let’s be honest. There is no comprehensive study that I know of that shows conclusive data that children brought up with a stay at home parent turn out to be better people than those who have working parents. There are bad stay at home parents and there are good ones. There are bad working parents and there are good ones. As long as you are the latter, there are no apologies necessary.
3. Measuring yourself against others
All parents, including those that work, should stop comparing themselves to others. All this does is set you up for failure while living up to a standard that you have no idea is “the standard”. What we see with our eyes and what could be going on behind the scenes are two different things. Don’t get caught up in comparisons. This will never bode well for you.
4. Not saying no
Say no and don’t be compelled to say yes when you want to say no. If you can’t make it to the Girl Scout meeting, say no. If you volunteered for one event, say no the other one if you feel that is best. Stop putting on your shoulders more than you can carry. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your husband, mate, or co-parent to put in their share so everything isn’t always on you.
5. Not paying attention to stressors
If you are are getting more headaches than normal, are fatigued, and stressed out, then your body is trying to say something. Do not ignore these warning signs. Remember, if you aren’t healthy, you can’t be there for your family so it’s okay to put you first.
6. Denying yourself “me” time
Book yourself regular me time, time away from your kids and away from work. Perhaps it’s an hour at the spa getting a massage or facial. Or maybe it’s date night with the spouse. Whatever it is, make sure you put some time on your schedule for you.
7. Trying to do it all
Not using all of your vacation or personal time off and trying to do it all is a no/no. You don’t have to do it all to be a good parent, a good spouse, and a good professional, so stop trying to. Do the best you can.
8. Bending instead of breaking
We all have our breaking points. It’s called being human. But as working parents, we’ve got to learn from these breaking points and learn to bend. Not get so caught up in our schedules, our itineraries, our calendars, that we forget what’s most important. Bend every once in awhile. Play hooky from work without the guilt. Sneak off on a quick vacation with your family. Be happy. Your work life and your personal life should make you happy and bring you a sense of purpose. If it doesn’t it’s time to reevaluate.
It’s okay to be a working parent (those that disagree will deal). Go forth and be the best working parent you can be!