It is not easy being a full-time professional and a full-time parent at the same time. Working and kids don’t tend to mix very well. Those who have attempted to fuse both often end up dedicating more time to one than to the other. Then there are other new parents, particularly working moms, who choose to dedicate their time to their children while their partner tries to provide financially for the family. However, there are still some who have reconfigured their lifestyles to accommodate both work and being a parent.
Traditional models dictate that the fathers must always be the providers while the mothers are to care for the kids. Nowadays however, economic hardships are forcing both parents to work to make ends meet. Many families today have both parents out working. According to career coach Joyce E.A. Russell, an industrial and organizational psychologist, while women are generally still more responsible in child care, many of them feel that their husbands or partners do not produce adequate income for their families. Thus, they become concerned with the families’ financial status and eventually choose to work and leave their children to the care of other people.
There are also certain situations where a single parent works while also playing the full-time role of housekeeper and care-giver. Single parenthood is increasingly becoming a trend today. We see a single father working in his home office while keeping an eye on his kid. Working moms at times have to leave their children in day care centers or hire babysitters to watch over the household while they are away working.
So how do successful parents balance both work and children? Russell suggests that working parents, particularly mothers, try to explore opportunities in companies that offer a child-friendly environment. Many employers are now seeing the need of parents to work while taking care of their kids and have integrated policies to become child-friendly. “Some smaller firms are much more family friendly, and some larger firms are making changes to be more family friendly,” Russell said.
Joanne Stern, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in family and couples counseling and author of the book Parenting Is a Contact Sport, said that balancing work and kids hugely depends on children’s ages. Keeping a job while your kid is still a toddler can be tough but if they are now going to school, things are a bit more manageable.
“If you try to get work done at home with a two year old, you’ll shoot yourself!” said Stern. “But when they are school age, the time to focus on is that time between after school and dinner time.”
Stern tells working parents to recognize the needs of their kids and that age is a factor in determining what they need “because kids’ needs change over time.” It is also important that at least one parent should be available to pick up their kids from school and help them with their homework. If your work does not allow you the flexibility that you need to be with your kids every day, try to set up a structure with your spouse and alternate your schedules.
After dinner time is the most important time when it comes to working parents trying to bond and foster a relationship with their children. Stern says that this is the perfect time where you do not have to worry about work and can just be a full-time parent for while. Recognize that children love to tell stories about their day, spill their thoughts, and ask questions. Stern warns that parents should be attentive to their children because they will notice and deeply care whether their parents are giving them full attention or not.