I recently heard a smart person say that we should never feel guilty about being a working parent. To be guilty means assumes that something was wrong and a wrong-doing done. There is nothing wrong about working to provide for your children even if it means occasionally missing a school event. What it does mean is that we need make quality time, keep strong connections and be present with children when we are with them. Divorce Answered shares four lessons learned as a working parent:
SAVOUR THE MOMENT: The most dramatic thing I have learned as a working mum is that time flies. Time travels far too quickly. Whenever you can, every now and then, stop, breathe, observe and enjoy the moment. When you take the time to really look at your children, you will notice that they are growing into their own independent person. They make comments that will surprise you. Photograph your moments – the funny, glorious and challenging ones.
FIND YOUR BALANCE: It’s important for family dynamics on weekends to involve a balance of downtime, play and social interactions as well as quiet time and quality one-on-one time between you and each child. Exclusive one-on-one time with each child allows them to feel valued, considered and special. Aim for undivided quality time once every two or four weeks. We are not made like Energizer Bunnies! Children and parents alike need downtime or quiet time to recharge their batteries.
‘NO’ IS A GOOD WORD: Remind yourself that you are not your child’s best friend and that it is healthy for your child to hear ‘no’ sometimes. Some parents like to buy their children’s love and pay off their own ‘working parent guilt’ which doesn’t translate to a well-adjusted child. Setting clear boundaries, limitations and appropriate discipline doesn’t mean that you love your child any less.
THINK BEFORE SPEAKING: Finally, embrace taking time to consider your responses (especially concerning playdates and extra-curricular activities). Think about the whole family and if you say ‘yes’ to this request, how will it affect the other family members? Further, take your time when considering repercussions or punishments for children. The penalty needs to fit the crime but not be excessive (for instance, saying “you can’t go out for a week” may hurt or limit you more than the child).
Working and parenting is a difficult juggling act. Working to provide the basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing and education should be commended, not frowned upon. Primary carer single parents often don’t have the choice but to work each day to ‘make ends meet’ and live on a strict budget. It doesn’t mean that, as parents, we love our children any less. In fact, children who see their parents successfully live on a budget, work and raise a family are well adjusted individuals with a drive and thirst to positively contribute to society.
Don’t regret your working parent situation. Embrace it and make it work for you.