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Working parents face more challenges today than ever before. The question of parenting is often dependent on economic factors, as well as the desire felt by each parent to progress within their respective careers. The old ideal of Dad going out to work full time and Mum staying at home to look after the children is still considered the best possible parenting model, but this no longer fits with today's modern family. Men, as well as women, now face new choices when it comes to the question of how best to contribute to raising their families.
If you've ever wondered how some families manage to have two working parents, as well as raising their children in what seems like the ideal way, the bottom line is that they will constantly be thinking ahead and planning, sometimes weeks in advance, in order to keep things going. But even the most carefully planned situations can often become stressful, and putting some thought into avoiding the following list of possible pitfalls can really help to get your family on track - and keep them there.
1. Allow Yourself a Period of Adjustment
If one parent has been at home for a while looking after a new arrival, there is often the urge to rush full steam ahead into getting back to work. In these situations, parents can initially feel on a high simply to be out there and gainfully employed, but may soon feel quite low because they are missing their children and home life. Working on a part time basis, or working from home for a couple of hours a day, could be the answer to a smoother transition from full time parent to full time working parent.
2. Dads Are Parents Too
Whilst the stay at home mum has been the norm for many years, dads are now recognizing that they often miss out on having a hands on parenting role because of work commitments. Parents can now share the role of parenting and wage earning equally, and this can help to create a much more harmonious family life. Considering all the options carefully can avoid any feelings of resentment between parents, and can benefit your children in a more positive way too.
3. Keep Calm and Carry On
So, you've got that all important meeting planned for the next morning, and it's your moment to show your boss that you're a working parent who has everything under control. But what if your child develops an ear infection the night before? Try not to fall into the common pitfall of panicking about not getting any sleep - all working parents face dilemmas of this sort occasionally, and they all get through it. Hopefully, such situations won't always arise on the morning of important meetings or presentations, but with a little planning, you may be able to talk your boss into allowing you to work from home in certain situations. This will take the heat off those times when you feel guilty for going to work when a child is ill, or guilty for staying at home with your sick child when you should be at work.
4. Take a Reality Check on Your Child's Happiness
Don't dwell on thoughts that your child is somehow distressed by your absence when you're at work. Most kids will appear upset when they see you leave for the day, but more often than not their caregiver will report that they are quick to perk up once a few minutes have passed. Working parents are bound to worry about whether or not their work impinges on the development of their children; however, try speaking to friends and colleagues with older children who have grown up with working parents, they'll soon reassure you that their own children haven't suffered.
5. Take Up Offers of Help
Going it alone might seem easy at first, but working parents can really benefit from accepting offers of help and support from family and friends - and it doesn't mean you're failing in any way! Sometimes, just one evening a week where you don't have to cook can work wonders for recharging your batteries; so don't say no to the offer of a home made casserole from a willing friend.
6. Could Working From Home be the Answer?
With more and more people finding themselves in work from home situations, there's little wonder that it might seem like the ideal set up for working parents. Some employers are quite open to the idea as it keeps the cost of overheads down, and working from home can solve a lot of problems for many different people. For working parents, being at home for the children whilst contributing to the family's finances brings the fulfilment that so many parents seek when trying to find the best work/life balance that they can. However, working from home comes with its own pitfalls too, and distractions and interruptions can affect how you cope with your workload. Talking to your employer about how you could go about working from home for at least part of your contractual hours, could help ease the strain of juggling work and home life.
Families face many economic challenges that deem it necessary for both parents to work. Involving your children in the arrangements, and getting them to do their bit to organize the household, will make the process easier. Furthermore, knowing your children are growing up with an independent outlook on life will also help you to go to work feeling more positive about the choices you've made.