I once heard a saying “You can be a great mother or a great career woman, but not both at the same time.” The biggest challenge for working parents (especially single, full-time parents) is finding the balance between work, children and meeting their own needs.
Fortunately, today, businesses are becoming more open to flexible working hours and work-from-home arrangements which means that parents can squeeze in a load of washing, prepare dinner in between work calls and be available for children’s school events.
The priority about being a working parent and having happy children is trying to be as present as possible when you are with them. It doesn’t matter if the house is untidy or if the washing up is in the sink (these can be done when the children are asleep). What matters the most is that your children have good quality time with you. Part of being present is leaving your mobile phone and social media alone!
I try to be as organised at home as I possibly can – some parents may call this ‘military precision’! Children’s clothes and extra-curricular items are laid out the night before. The lunches are made the night before when I make dinner and when I cook, I do it in bulk – and freeze the leftovers into family meal portions. When I am as organised and prepared as I can be, it allows me to be more flexible and take on impromptu activities without added stress.
Being an active listener is integral to connecting with children, to learn about their day and their feelings. Start the conversation by asking open ended questions about their day - what was the best part of their day, what exciting things did they learn and what did they play at lunchtime? Often the best time to learn about a child’s day or have uninterrupted conversations is by turning mundane times into quality time - like in the car on the way home, at family dinner time, when the kids are playing in the bath or when tucking the children into bed. It’s also nice to share your highlights of the day with your children too!
Just remember that guilt is a feeling that occurs when you have done something wrong. There isn’t anything wrong about working and providing for your children. In fact, what your children can learn from a working parent can far outweigh the challenges of working and parenting.