Achieving Work-Life Balance as Working Parents

When both parents work, planning ahead and mastering the art of flexibility are keys to success.

Two-income households have become more prevalent over the years, leaving many families trying to juggle multiple priorities. In addition to taking care of their crew at home, parents must also prioritize professional responsibilities at the office.

That challenge is not an easy one. Many moms and dads may have a hard time leaving home at home when they are at work, and they may feel distracted by professional to-dos when spending time with their family members.

“Working parents may feel extreme strain and fatigue trying to juggle their responsibilities, which can lead to burnout and leave them feeling disconnected from their children,” says Angela Pedretti, Licensed Professional Counselor with Prevea Health. “However, a working parent who makes family time a priority and stays committed to the development of his or her child is just as capable of creating a close bond as a parent who doesn’t work outside the home.”

The Art of Time Management

Priorities necessarily change when a couple becomes “mom and dad.” When a family includes young children, catching up with work friends during a daily coffee break may not seem as important as it did before. Instead, making sure tasks at the office get done well before daycare closes becomes critical.

Similarly, watching news shows in the morning may no longer be an option when you have to drop kids off at school before 8 a.m. To efficiently tackle tasks in a timely manner, begin by making to-do lists and doing your best to stick to them. Leave yourself a little leeway in case the unexpected occurs (as it always does). Then simply do the best you can.

Ask yourself what could be done the night before to make the next day’s routine run a little more smoothly. Pack lunches. Plan outfits. Maybe put backpacks and briefcases by the door before bedtime to help ease the morning rush to load the car.

Team Up for Success

As you establish routines, remember you are not alone in the adventure that is parenting. You and your spouse are nurturing your children together—so don’t be afraid to ask each other for help when needed.

If you have a big work presentation one morning, ask your husband to handle school drop-off. If he wants to de-stress at the end of a long week with an afternoon run, offer to pick up the kids and handle dinner. Have designated responsibilities but give yourself permission to change things up every once in a while.

Involve the Children

Instead of letting yourself feel guilty about not being on parental duty 100 percent of the time, find specific ways to be involved with your kids while maintaining work-life-school balance. Embrace the opportunity to teach them about responsibility and deadlines by doing homework and paperwork together. Discuss finances as you grocery shop, paying attention to prices and budget. You may even bring your son or daughter to the office on occasion.

“Positive child development does not have to be significantly affected by both parents working outside the home,” Pedretti says. “What makes more of a difference is having quality childcare, earning an income that can support the family, and providing consistent warmth and receptiveness to each child.”

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In a results-driven culture often overloaded with commitments and extracurricular activities, forgetting to relax as a family is easy to do. However, taking time to unwind together is important and beneficial for both parents and children.

“When families play together, they make memories, share inside jokes, and experience serious moments of intimacy,” says Angela Pedretti, Licensed Professional Counselor with Prevea Health. “Play also creates a deeper sense of belonging, opens communication lines, teaches family members to listen to one another and work together, and provides a catalyst for forming closer connections. It also makes children feel special.”

To relieve stress and create an environment that helps your children feel safe, accepted, and valued, engage in activities together like the following:

  • Baking and cooking
  • Gardening
  • Reading books aloud
  • Singing
  • Taking trips

“Dedicate screen-free time for the family, and use this time to play,” Pedretti says. “When attention is split between play and other activities, neither the children nor the parents feel valued or that the activity is important on its own. Turn off electronic devices and focus on simply being together.”

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