Once you have children, everything changes. Managing your career becomes much more difficult because there are so many more demands on your time. Also, you often feel torn about taking time away from your kiddies to work. It is possible to be a great parent and to have a rewarding career but you do need a strategy. Here are some tips that will help:
Don't be too hard on yourself. Balancing parenting with a career is difficult. The hard truth is that nobody does it well. We are all just trying to get through the day. Some days you'll be behind at work, your kids will be unhappy, your house will be a mess and you'll feel like an all-round failure. Just grab another cup of coffee and keep going; it's hard for everyone but it does get easier.
Find good childcare. If you are going to have any luck balancing your career with parenting, you are going to need to find reliable childcare. You have to know that you can drop your kids off each day and be confident that they will be safe and that they'll be treated with kindness. You'll never feel good about going to work if you aren't comfortable with your childcare. Once you have daycare lined up, try to find options for back up care for those days when your kids have a fever. Family is a great option but if you don't have family in the area, you can try to set up a child care swap with another parent.
Get organized. There are simple things that you can do that will make your life a little more manageable. A little organization can go a long way. Spend an hour or two on the weekend to plan your meals for the week. This will save the "What's for dinner?" question at the end of an exhausting day. Get school clothes, back packs, coats, mitts, and boots ready the night before to avoid the morning scramble. You might even want to consider having a family calendar that is visible to everyone so that you are aware of upcoming events, appointments and assignments.
Be open with your employer. While it's understandable to want to keep your work and home life separate, you might want to let your employer know that you have children. If you have discussed your challenges with your employer ahead of time, they may be able to make changes to your work hours or allow you to work from home every now and then. Just keep in mind that if your employer perceives that you are not reliable, it could threaten your job security.
Plan quality time with the family. As parents, we sometimes feel guilty because in our busy world, our interactions with our children can be reduced to getting them dressed, fed, taking them to school, picking them up, feeding them, giving them a bath, and putting them to bed. When we are swamped and exhausted, it becomes difficult to have fun with them. Like everything else, quality family time needs to be scheduled or it just won't happen. So pencil it in. Set a time for you and your children to play air hockey, go for a hike, build a snowman, get manicures, or do whatever you enjoy doing together. You will be glad that you made the time for it.
After you have children, you may make different choices in your career than you would have before. That's totally okay. You have to take your whole life into consideration and make the career choices that are right for you and your family.
(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)