As if raising a child wasn’t hard enough and arguably a full-time job in and of itself, unless you are lucky enough to be among a very VERY privileged few, chances are either one or both parents are going to have to work, and it sucks.
If you are like most human beings, chances are you find your child beautiful, adorable, and ultimately hard to parts ways with for any extended amount of time (at least the beginning, this feeling eventually lessens as they grow older), which makes the thought of going to work for however many hours ultimately unpleasant.
As different as every family is; their home life and work life, one constant remains true throughout every and every one of them, and that is children aren’t cheap, which really does make the situation a double edge sword.
One thing you can take solace in is that you are far from being alone in your struggles, they are almost all shared among every working parent, and in spite of what might seem at moments to be insurmountable obstacles, eventually you will get through them, and I hope that reading this will help you do so.
Below I have compiled a list of some of the most common struggles that affect working parents, as well as some tips I have learned along the way and from other working moms and dads to help mitigate the bumpy road that is inevitably in front of every parent, so that you can push through and make it the smoother ride ahead.
7 Leaving Work At Work
Unquestionably, number one answer on the board, is most working parents struggle with leaving work at work, and it’s the easiest to understand why because we have all been guilty of it, whether you are a parent or not, but when you put the variable of a child in the equation is a whole other story.
Most everyone will have good days at work, and they will also have bad days. Now, if you are not a parent, and have a bad day, there is a good chance you might go out after work, have a few drinks, blow off some steam, and stumble on home; no harm, no foul.
Now, if you are a parent, while this option is still available to you, I am going to have to strongly suggest against it, or at the very least, make arrangements prior to, and have it happen as infrequently as possible.
If the reasons for this aren't obvious, I will tell you anyway; you have a child to take care of, or pick from daycare, or a spouse to relieve, or meals to prepare for, or any number of the countless things that you signed up for when becoming a parent.
Just because you had a bad day, you must remember that it is no fault of your spouse or your child, they are innocent in the entire thing, whatever it might be, and don’t deserve you to come home in a bad mood, but how do you do that?
The most surefire way that I found helpful over the years is whenever possible commute into work. Sure, sometimes it might take a bit longer, and maybe might not be as comfortable as your car, but it’s the time that is important, not the place. Read a book, play a game on your phone, practice breathing exercises, whatever works to make you calm and have you coming home as the best version of yourself for your family.
6 Feeling Guilty
Many parents out there, whether they admit or not, feel guilty for the time they spend having to work. I know I did, and I know I didn’t admit it either, although in retrospect, I don’t know what I had to feel guilty for, but at the time, it was all too clear.
Children grow; it's like one of life's inevitables, like death and taxes, and the reason that parents feel guilty when they have to work, especially if the child is a relatively new addition, is that they grow and change so quickly, and no parent wants to miss out on that.
While I was at work, I missed out on first words and first steps, and yes, it was very difficult, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to see them.
One advantage of living in the time we do, is that I don’t think a phone exists without a camera on it, which makes most mothers or primary caregivers natural inclination to capture as many videos and photos of their child that much easier.
So while I might not have been there in person to witness these events, it does make up for it by seeing the videos (in HD no less) and knowing that what I was doing at work was for a goal greater than my own enjoyment of watching my children, it was about securing a future for them.
5 Keeping Your Friends
I am not going to sugar coat, nor should you; having a job and being a parent is like having two jobs, except one you really can’t study all that much for before you get it, it's really more of a learn as you go kind of scenario.
Where does that leave you? Well busy for starters, and that translates to any time even close to being called ‘free time’ a rare occurrence for you, kind of like seeing a unicorn. This makes maintaining any relationship, existing or otherwise, very difficult for working parents, as their lives really do revolve around work and family.
While many might argue it is a labor of love, and they certainly won't hear any disagreement from me; I just want to remind you of how important it is for you to maintain relationships outside of your home and work life for the sake of your home and work life.
Everybody needs friends, and making time to go see them, for both parents, is vital to your mental health, which is not hard to see how that can translate and affect your child and how you interact with them. Much like the old saying “happy wife, happy life”, I think the same applies to parents and children, and keeping solid friendships certainly helps keep everyone happy.
4 Staying Organized
Between your meetings at 9 am, 11:30 pm, 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm; picking up the dry cleaning and pasta sauce on your way home, as well as preparing for the presentation you have tomorrow, you might feel like you are at your wit's end, and I wouldn't blame you. Oh did I mention that your baby hasn’t napped all day because of a bad cough.
Yep, that's what your day is like. I know it doesn’t sound like fun, and some of them won’t be, but one thing they can be is organized, and until you've tried it, you don’t know what you're missing, it's a godsend.
Getting organized requires some effort on your part, but the benefits will quickly dwarf the time you spend getting everything in order. My suggestion, pick an evening when the little one(s) is/are sleeping, sit down with you spouse and go over the essentials. Here are helpful ways that my family was able to stay organized:
- Meal prep and planning for the week. Remember, stock up that freezer, it’s your friend.
- Get ready the night before. Parenting is a lot of repetition in some ways, meaning that most mornings (probably the most hectic time of the day for any household) is usually pretty consistent in what involves. Lay out your clothes, set up the chair for feeding, and have your breakfast planned ahead, as well as who is responsible for making it.
- Divide up chores among partners and prioritize those which need to be done more often than others. Also, as your children get older, put them to work too.
- Creating a family calendar of appointments, lessons, pickups and drop-offs as well as anything else that affects the family should be put up in a visible spot for both parents to see. This way, you can work together and potentially avoid arguments down the road.
3 Finding Quality Childcare
Now this is only applicable if both parents are working, but it can be a very important decision to make and one that should not be taken lightly.
There is an abundance of options available when it comes to childcare, from live-in nannies to day-care, but like most thing's life, not everyone is created equal. One of the most the prudent things you can do as a parent is take the time and investigate (put down your magnifying glass Sherlock), exactly who is taking care of the most important thing in the world to you.
This can be done through referrals, checking with your local Better Business Bureau as well as face to face interviews and interactions with potential candidates. Listen to your gut and never rely solely on what you read or hear, it is important to get a personal impression of the individual(s) who will be caring for your child.
2 Getting Help
I don’t think in the history of mankind has a parent ever existed that at one point or another hasn't wished for an extra set of hands.
Those of us who are parents have all been there, sometimes it just seems like there is just way too much to do, and not enough time to do it. This feeling usually leads to frustration, which results in more worrying than accomplishing.
While every parent could use an extra set of hands, it is shocking how few actually reach out and ask for help.
Maybe it is pride, maybe is being stubborn, or maybe it is being scared of the answer, but in my experience (that I learned later on unfortunately) was that when I needed help, all I had to do was ask.
Children, especially newborns have a way of bringing people together, especially families, and you might be surprised at how many hands go up if you ask for a little bit of help when it comes to taking care of your little one(s).
1 Finding The Time
Any working parent will tell you that most of the time it feels like there just aren't enough hours in the day. Very often working parents can get so caught up making a living that they forget to have a life.
While everybody wishes, they could, one of the few things that mankind has yet to be able to create is more time, which is what makes it so precious. An easy tip that I do is set all of the clocks ahead 10 minutes, that way I find myself at least able to catch my breath most days.
I know that it is a struggle, and not an easy one, when you work and raise a child, but sacrifices have to be made, and when you are put in the situation as a parent to make them, magically they don’t seem like sacrifices at all.
Children of all ages need to spend time with their parents doing fun things, but life is tricky, and we don’t always know what tomorrow is going to bring. That is why I suggest getting in as much time as you can with your children, doing fun things, so that they get their fill.
This way, if you don’t have all the time you would like and are forced to work late or travel, your children have something to hold on to, as their tanks are full of time spent with their parent, and few things are as important to, or as beneficial for a child as that.