Being a working parent means your job is never quite done. Which also means it’s a constant (and at times challenging) work in progress, with more or less room for frequent improvements (along with a serious need for naps and ultra-strong caffeine).
Speaking of improvement, as we start a new year, being a better parent is often on the list of our goals to accomplish. I know it’s definitely been on mine pretty much every year since my babies were born. Setting parenting goals, especially as a working parent, helps keep me accountable, on my toes, and frankly, happier as a mom.
From one busy, caffeine-driven, overachieving working parent to the other, here are 7 of my own personal parenting goals as we start this new year:
Be more present
As in, be there, really there. Not half there answering emails as you’re checking the kids’ homework. Or teetering on the edge of the stove trying to finish dinner AND dial in to that work conference call.
One of my recurring goals, as a working parent is just to take the time to stop and actually be present in the moment. So I can give my favorite little people the attention, time and energy they really deserve—without dropping the phone in the dinner pan!
Organization is the name of the game
Can we talk about being more organized as a working parent? Seriously, in between coordinating school schedules, after-hours activities, sports and weekend activities, not to mention birthdays and social events, who can keep their edges in place?
How about setting some working parent’s organizational goals this year? Some of my objectives in 2017 include implementing a family Google calendar, and putting a charting system in place for chores and rewards. Organization, organization, organization.
Patience, more patience please
This one is on my list of working parent goals pretty much…all the time! And I know I’m not the only one…
I mean, let’s be real, who doesn’t need a longer fuse when it comes to dealing with kids (and adults, and laundry, and everything else in between).
As a working mom, like many, one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding, areas I get to continuously work on is my patience. With time, some meditation, a dose of yoga and a whole lot of caffeine, I can report I’m slowly inching closer to zen parenting—give or take a few slices of soothing caramel cake here and there.
Get more involved in your children’s academic lives
Life can get so busy that we may often fail to get as involved as we could in our kids’ academic lives. It’s one thing to check their homework every night, and make it to the parent-teacher meetings (almost) on time. It’s another to dedicate enough time and energy to their entire academic evolution.
For some, it may mean developing a working relationship with their teachers. For others, it may be about volunteering for more school activities. In any case, getting more involved in the kids’ school life not only helps support them better, but also understand and appreciate their day-to-day better. In addition to doing some unofficial “parenting spying”, but I digress…
But also help them develop strong social skills
As a child growing up, my mother was so focused on my academic success, that a large part of my social learning fell by the wayside. Now with my own children, I try to remember that success is not just about getting straight A’s in school, but also learning to be socially comfortable. How are your kids getting along with others in school? Are they comfortable developing friendships with other children?
For our family, this means striving to help our kids be more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, while encouraging them to express frustration,anger and disappointment in a healthy way. It also involves establishing basic rules of conduct, such as no hitting, biting or kicking; and not forget to reward them for good behavior as well.
Keep the lines of communication open
Last year, a great friend of mine visited us, and I noticed my baby daughter opened up to her more than she would to me. Which stung a bit, but also made me realize that I may not have encouraged her to keep the communication lines open, so she could really speak her truth to her mom without fear.
It’s so easy to tower over our kids as parents, and forget what it means to really communicate with them. After all, they should be able to come to us with their problems, challenges and issues, just as they would with their good news and breakthroughs. This means talking to your child every day, putting down the laptop or smartphone to spend some real time with them, and showing your love every single day.
Let loose and help children become more independent
Now this one’s always a challenging one for mama bears like myself! I mean, what’s wrong with wanting to protect your child 24/7 from the potential harm of falling down the stairs or spilling juice on their school uniforms.
Ok, ok, I can hear the rolling motion of your eyes in your eyeballs right this minute.
Truth is, the more our children gain skills and become self-sufficient, the higher their self-esteem and ability to accomplish more. Which also means you must learn to let go so they can actually do the skill-gaining and the self-esteem growing thing.
For me, it’s been teaching my babies to pick up more after themselves, dress themselves, handle their house chores (without any motherly assistance/complaint), and actually doing ALL their homework on their own (minus the checking and occasional support). Time to let loose again.
What are your working parent goals for 2017?
Bio: Solange Lopes is an author, blogger and CPA. She writes about career and lifestyle topics for women at work in her blog The Corporate Sister (www.thecorporatesister.com). She’s also the author of Girl, Take Back Your Career: 7 Steps to Reclaiming Your Power at Work.
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