Parents and working professionals often struggle to make room for and juggle the many conflicting demands of work and career on the one hand and children and home on the other.
In tough economic times where pressure to work, and be seen to be working, harder, is increasing and the real cost of living is on the rise, “Work-Life Balance” is now more than ever, an issue.
But is it achievable? What do we want from work? What is balance? How committed are we as parents to switching off in order to look after ourselves, our lives and our families?
Or it may be that you are making the leap back into work after a gap to have and bring up children, and this can be daunting.
The landscape is different, and after time at home many mums lose their self confidence and belief about what they are good at and how they will balance all aspects of life.
Ask them to organise the household and multiple people in it at any one time – no problem – but the thought of attending an interview, a business meeting or choosing what to do career wise when priorities are now so different can feel a daunting prospect.
This is no recent phenomena and the latest literacy offering from NY author Meg Wolitzer with “The Ten Year Nap” summarises the dilemma of returning to work beautifully. Is simply being a mother enough?
Is it possible or even desirable to have it all, to be an attentive mother, a loving wife and a successful professional? How do you re-enter the market place after the gap period?
In order to be an effective parent and prevent parental burnout you do need to look after yourself and your needs – think of yourself as a chequing account which if it is continually overdrawn will be always in the red. Your resources need to be replenished in order to be most effective and efficient as a parent.
The interesting thing is that when we start to look after ourselves, we become more able to put our parenting skills in place and be more in charge. For many parents continuing in or returning to the workplace is essential in order for them to value themselves in their multi faceted job description – mother; wife; chief entertainment officer; taxi service; cook; cleaner; laundress; banker; PA and whatever else comes with being a Mum!
If this means that after a period at home looking after the children the time has come to step out into the workplace, then questions like this may be running through your mind:
- What am I good at?
- What type of work do I really want to do?
- Have I got the skills or do I need to retrain?
- How will I juggle working with a busy family life and still feel a sense of balance?
- Is it possible to find a role which fits with school times?
- Do I set up my own business, and if so, how?
- How can I carry on being the parent I want to be if I’m working?
- Will I be failing my children if I’m not giving them all my attention?
- How do I persuade my employer to take me back after maternity leave on terms that work for me?
If you feel returning to work is a Nirvana, maybe it can become a reality and the ever elusive work life balance can be achieved. However you need to be clear about where you priorities lie and perhaps accessing some life coaching may be of benefit.
No doubt when you have those precious limited times with your children you don’t want to be in the role of ‘sergeant major’, barking instructions and winding up in disputes.
We know that working parents often experience a lot of guilt about the time they’re able to spend with their kids so you want the time spent at home to be harmonious and your children to be happy, cooperative and thriving.
Whatever your position – either in the work place or thinking of returning to work, a work life balance can be achieved when you are clear about your priorities and have the tool kit of skills on hand to ensure children feel good about themselves so that their confidence, motivation and behaviour improve. Work life balance can be achieved if there is harmony at home.
The London director of The Parent Practice, Elaine has been a parenting facilitator since 2006, teaching parents in the Wimbledon and Clapham centres.
She works in schools and nurseries, coordinates our corporate and business seminar programme and works with special educational needs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
Elaine sees many of our clients in private consultations.
Elaine came into parenting thinking she should instinctively know how to parent. She sought parenting advice when she felt guilty when she thought she had done a ‘bad job’ and ashamed when she saw someone else parenting the way she wished she could. Being a parent is the most demanding job she has ever done but equally it is a role filled with joy.
Elaine has helped hundreds of families to understand their child’s unique temperament and motivates parents to bring out the best in children and teenagers to ensure they have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and be able to cope with life’s knocks.