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Working & Parenting: How to balance Work, Parenting – and find time for Self-Care!

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Family life is changing – and the roles of mothers and fathers are changing as well, at work and at home.
Being a working parent is not an easy task. If you run your own business or have a job, not only are you likely feeling exhausted and feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions. On top, you may also struggle with feeling like you can never give either responsibility—your work or your parenting—your full attention.
Something is always pulling for your attention and there never are enough hours in the day to accomplish all you hope to accomplish. The result is a pile of stress that you may not know how to navigate.

There is no doubt that this past year has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone. While the loss and challenges of the pandemic have been felt by everyone, the effect of Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns have been particularly impactful on working parents. Whether confronted with the challenge of transitioning to remote work, or continued essential work outside the home, the already difficult juggling act of parenting while working became significantly more difficult, because of Covid-19.

Many who relied on childcare were forced to isolate, unable to expose their children or their families to the added risk of another person. Televisions and iPads became de facto babysitters as parents just tried to get through the workday. With schools closed, many found that in addition to the role of parent and breadwinner, they quickly had to become homeschool teachers as well.

So, how does a working parent cope with this stress and find balance in their busy lives? According to Kristin Rinehart, the director of behavioral services at Muskingum Valley Health Services and owner of Changing Minds, the first step in overcoming stress is to give up the quest to be the perfect parent and not let one bad day define you.
Here are some other tips on how to relieve the stress that comes from trying to balance work and parenting.

1. Build a daily routine that works for your family

Kids do better when they have structure. If your children don’t have the structure of regular school days, consider creating your own family schedule. You can also have a family meeting and build a schedule together with your children. When your children have a say, they are more likely to buy in. The schedule can include:

– Time blocks for you (and your partner) when you need uninterrupted time to work
– Which subjects your child works on and when
– Time blocks for guiding your child with their schoolwork
– When everyone gets up and goes to bed
– Mealtimes
– Break times
– Fun activities

Write your family’s schedule down and put it somewhere visible. You can adjust the schedule as needed so that it remains as something that your family finds helpful and wants to follow. The schedule should be a useful guide for your family – not a source of stress.

2. Set Boundaries

Another way to alleviate the stress that comes from being a working parent is to set boundaries. In other words, draw very clear lines between your work life and your family life.
For instance, once you leave the office space or turn off your computer for the day, leave it there. Resist the urge to check your email, respond to messages, or do extra work. In order to find balance and reduce your stress levels, you need to define where work ends, and family begins.

3. Learn to Prioritize

Being a parent is stressful, with or without having a career. But, adding in the demands of a career or business demands on top of the unique demands of parenting can certainly make things difficult.

When it comes to reducing stress and balancing work life with your family life, identifying core values is an important part of the process. Determine what’s really important to you, what helps you to prioritize things and then rremove expectations that really don’t need to be there.

At the end of each day, plan your next workday and prioritize your tasks. That way, you’re ready to get started and focus on the most important task first thing in the morning, or whenever your slated time for uninterrupted work is. The less important tasks can be tackled later. Keep your to-do lists shorter than usual so that you can be available for your children if needed. Tasks, that don’t need as much deep focus , such as answering emails, could be done while your child does their assignments next to you , for example.

4. Take time for self-care

These days the time for self-care might be sparse, especially if you’re a single parent. Try to be creative and find new ways to take some time just for yourself because you need it more than ever. Self-care can be as easy as putting on an upbeat song and allowing yourself to dance or sing like no one is watching (or listening!). Sometimes it’s as simple as lighting a deliciously fragrant candle you’ve been saving for a special occasion – or you can look through an old photo album from your own childhood.  Sometimes self-care means taking a break from news and social media outlets. Sometimes it’s pausing to take a few deep breaths and practice positive self-talk, even look at yourself in a mirror and remind yourself that YOU’VE GOT THIS, before you return to the chaos that is parenthood.

Need help balancing Working & Parenting?

There’s no doubt that being a working parent can be stressful. But there are ways to reduce your stress levels and find a balance between work life and family life.

In the meantime, if you find that your efforts to reduce stress are not working or that you’re having trouble coping with the stress you’re feeling, we are here to help you navigate your situation!
If working and balancing your life feel far too often like fumbling around in the dark, our programs serve as your flashlight. Understand the WHY and WHAT – and the HOW will take care of itself! Click here to learn more about how we can help you achieve everything you want in your business and personal life!

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