How can working moms go about balancing career and parenting successfully? I won’t say it’s easy because who would really believe that anyway, but I will say that it’s completely doable. Like anything else that is successful in your life, you just need a plan of action. Here’s how to get there:
Decide What’s Important
First and foremost, you have to decide what’s important to you. The key word in that last sentence is YOU. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. Determine what your must-haves are and work from there. If breast-feeding your newborn is non-negotiable, make sure that your career somehow gives you the flexibility to do that. I was able to work part-time during the first 6 months after my daughter was born and was able to nurse her at home most of the time while pumping some during work hours. Maybe your must have is that you want to see your children off to school in the morning or need to be home when they come home from school. Whatever it is decide what you absolute need while still keeping in mind that you will need to sacrifice something along the way.
Ask Your Village For Help
It does take a village to raise children so ask your village for help and be sure to offer your help in return.
Exchanging baby-sitting services, rides or any other parenting duties is a great way to fit it all in. Perhaps you can call on a stay-at-home mom to drop your children off at karate in the afternoon and you’ll do the pick-up in the evening. Be careful to not abuse your friends and contribute when you are able to. If you have older children, get them involved in helping. Depending on their age, they should be able to take care of themselves and some household duties so it doesn’t all fall on you. It helps your children have a sense of responsibility and helps you out in the process. My children started doing their own laundry (from start to finish if you get my drift) at age 10 along with other daily and weekly chores. If you have a life partner, ask for their assistance if possible. Get your co-workers and boss on board to. Explain to them how important your family is and how they might be able to help you achieve the balance you are seeking. Many companies now offer flexible schedules, job sharing, work-from-home options and other perks that can make it easier for you.
It’s Okay to Say No
One of the things that has helped me the most as far as balancing career and parenting successfully is accepting that sometimes the answer is no. If I really can’t fit something in at work or at home, I am honest and say no (nicely.) I no longer do things out of obligation. For example, fundraisers are abundant once children get to be school age. After stressing myself out selling stuff because I felt obligated, I decided I would ask if I could just write a check to make a “donation” which would result in the same amount of money going to the school. It really made my life easier in so many ways. Figure out which things you can easily so no to that would help lighten your load. Sometimes you have to get creative.
The important thing to remember in all of this is that you need to take time for yourself and time with your children. Granted you may not want your career to suffer but your children are only children once and trust me, the time flies by.