Parenthood and a career: can you have both?
In today’s modern world, a huge percentage of parents are juggling their careers with their children. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, around 65 per cent of Australian mothers with children under 18 are working, whether full-time or part-time. The percentage of working dads is obviously much higher.
Whether you have to work for financial reasons, or simply because you love your career and don’t want to put it on hold for a decade, finding the balance between the two can seem close to impossible at times.
As every working parent will tell you, it’s a juggling act. We’re not talking solely about mums here, either. People often forget that dads struggle to find the balance, too. So, is there a solution? A magic formula that finds the perfect way to combine both a career and parenthood?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. In many cases, it’s a case of trial and error – making mistakes, trying out systems, and figuring out what works best for your family. Start with these few simple ideas, and refine it along the way.
1. Have great childcare.
Don’t compromise on this – it’s so important to know that your child is in the best hands while you’re at work. If you have any reservations or misgivings, trust your instinct and search for a better solution. Take the time to transition your child into childcare – start with one day, then two, and so on, until both you and your child are completely comfortable.
2. Talk to your employer.
If you’re going back to work after becoming a parent, you’re not going to the be the same employee that you were before you had children. Most employers know and understand this. See if you can come up with a working arrangement that works for both of you, and that you feel comfortable with.
Remind yourself that you can’t do everything. If you’re working full-time and still want time to dedicate to your child, then something’s got to give. If possible, delegate the cleaning to someone else. Split the chores between you and your partner. Do whatever it takes to strike a work-life balance!
4. Draw a line between work and family life.
When you’re at work, work. When you’re at home, parent. It sounds simple, but it can be really tricky to switch off from each role. If possible, don’t bring work home, and while you’re at work, try not to dwell on your children. Try and maintain a clear distinction between your two roles, so that you can excel at both.
5. Look after yourself.
If you’re a parent at home and an employee at work, then when do you get to be ‘you’? For your own state of mind, it’s so important to take a few hours each week for yourself – go to the gym, walk in the park, have a coffee on your own. Your mental health will thank you for it.
6. Remember that you’re in a partnership.
If you have a partner to share the load, then share it. Don’t try and do everything yourself, and don’t forget to make time for your other half. Work together, plan together, manage together – and enjoy being parents together.