“Mommy you don’t play with us.” Ouch. My kid said this one day when we were at home and talking about a game we are about to play. What an awakening. I work with families and children. I play with children all day long. And I always felt like my priorities were right. But this got my attention. I have been working a ton recently on some awesome opportunities, and some things have gotten off.
As a therapist and a mom it is always a challenge to balance both career and family. I’m a pretty driven person who deals with a streak of perfectionism, so if I’m not careful I can find myself out of balance. I see this issue come up time and again both with parents of the children I work with, supervisees and other working parents. How do you have a career that supports your family financially, but at the same time stay connected with your family? I have the fortunate opportunity to be able to adjust my schedule and have flexibility, and not every family has that. However there are some things that I do that helps me, and I hope that it can help other parents to readjust as necessary. Please note I have NOT perfected this in anyway and am constantly learning how to incorporate these in my own life.
- Let go of getting everything done all the time. Some things will be left undone. There is finite number of hours in a day and it is impossible to complete everything every day.
- Make the time you do spend with your children/family count. I make it a point to keep my weekends low key and not over scheduled. This is necessary both from a self-care point of view and bonding with my children. We have certain routines that we do keep on the weekends (such as at least one day we have movie and pizza night).
- Set a cut of time for work. In my field it can seem like there is something to do all the time, and setting a cut off time to stop working and go home has worked wonders. I will even put “GO HOME” on my schedule to give myself a visual reminder to NOT SCHEDULE SOMETHING THERE.
- Say no more than you say yes. It is tempting to take on multiple projects, Post this! Schedule this! Volunteer here! But giving yourself permission to say no sometimes will help focus your attention on the things that matter the most.
- Plan self care times every day to decompress. (for me it’s herbal tea before bed and watching something stupid on TV).
- Seek out consultation and networking with other parents in your field. You will find that it’s not just you, no you’re not crazy for being a working parent, and also remind you that we are in this together.
- Accept help from others.
- Ask for help.
- Give yourself the permission to adjust as needed. I have found that I have had to adjust my schedule or way of working every few years as my family’s needs change. My family’s needs change depending on the stage we’re in, for instance my kids had different needs when they were babies, but now that one is preschool age and the other is school age they need attention in different areas.
- Make smaller adjustments as you go along, rather than big leaps. Change happens as you make small adjustments to your schedule and your life, generally not in one big leap. And sometimes the simple adjustments (such as adjusting your cut off time for one day) makes a bigger impact than you expect.
What helps you maintain your sanity as a working parent? Whether you are a therapist or not? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I can’t wait to read everyone’s tips.