(CNBNewsnet)(August 23, 2018)--It goes without saying that being a working parent is extremely challenging; long gone are the days when you could just get home from work, throw on some comfortable clothes, and relax in front of the television with a glass of wine. Nowadays, you are somehow expected to balance doing well in your career, and spending enough quality time with your family when you get home, all while fighting off exhaustion and running a household. Finding ways to fit in everything that you need to do into each day can seem like an impossibility, but luckily there are some things that you can do to make the task of balancing work and home life a little bit easier to manage; here are nine simple tips to help you survive life as a working parent.
As a working parent, your to-do list is second to none, and with a million different tasks running about your mind at full speed you are bound to forget things from time to time (usually the most important things). Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your own peace of mind is to write everything down. Carry a small diary or notebook around with you in your bag, so that whenever something new pops up that you don’t want to forget, you can jot it down in your book. Then, when you get home, make sure to add all the items from the day into an organized to-do list (preferably prioritized), and cross of items when you complete them so that you don’t get confused.
Plans, plans, and backup plans
Planning ahead isn’t just a good idea, it is a necessity if you hope to survive the day with your sanity still intact. The more that you can get organized in advance, the smoother your day will run, and the less you will have to think about. For example, when you come home from work, the last thing you will want to do is organize what everyone will be eating for dinner. Therefore, if you can make a meal plan at the beginning of the week, then you know exactly what you are doing, and you might even be able to make the food in advance so that you only have to reheat it when you get in. As well as that, sometimes it helps when children know what they will be eating in advance so that they have time to adjust to the concept.
Planning can also be extended to daily schedules, and you should try to have as many back up plans in place as possible. For example, in case there are delays on your normal school run, it is good to know an alternative route. You may also want to have emergency items in the trunk of your car, such as wet wipes to clear up any mess made along the journey, or snacks for the kids to hand out in the event of an unexpected traffic jam or break down.
When you have children, the mess is just something that you have to come to terms with. As much as the media might promote the perfect ideal of a domestic goddess who can cook, clean, look after the children and hold down a steady job, the fact of the matter is that it just isn’t possible to maintain perfect order twenty-four seven. For your own peace of mind, try to prioritize certain cleaning tasks, rather than trying to get everything done at once. For example, communal areas which are used a lot such as the kitchen and bathroom, are more important to keep clean than the children’s bedrooms.
There is only so much that one person can do, so try and delegate tasks whenever you can. If you live with a partner, then it might be worthwhile you both sitting down and coming up with a schedule between you so that you both feel you have an equal amount of responsibility in the relationship. Open communication is important, as this will help you to avoid arguments, and ensure there isn’t one person who is burdened with more responsibility than the other.
If you are a single parent, there is no shame in asking friends and family for their help and support when you are in need, and even simple things that they can do to help will make a big difference. For example, if you have a friend whose children go to the same school as yours, then sharing the school run will take some of the strain off of your shoulders. Also, as your children get older, don’t be afraid to give them more responsibility around the house, such as giving them chores to complete.
Taking the children shopping is quite high up on the list ‘things that cause stress’ for most parents, so why put yourself through it at all? Nowadays online shopping is just as easy as heading to the local supermarket, so if you feel you are not up to going shopping, then just order what you need online. Of course, there are some items that are just easier to buy in person, such as shoes and clothing for the children (especially as they never seem to stop growing), but there are plenty of items which can be confidently bought online. For example, nowadays even medication can be purchased over the internet, and online pharmacy reviews 2018 do suggest that this sort of service is reliable.
Make time for sleep
When it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day, one thing that many parents do is neglect the amount of time they have to sleep. Sleep is not only important for being able to concentrate at work and at home but is also essential for your health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep can lead to exacerbated stress and anxiety levels, and could also lead to your physical health deteriorating too because your body cannot function properly without enough sleep. Try and work out a schedule which affords you at least 6 hours sleep a night, and most importantly, work on getting a good quality of sleep (uninterrupted, deep sleep), as this is what will allow you to relax and recover from the day’s events. If you have young children, it might be impractical for you to expect more than a few hours of interrupted sleep each night, so instead try and fit in time to sleep when you can (i.e., if your children go down for a nap, then it provides the perfect time for you to do the same!)
Be as present when you can
Time goes fast as a parent: one minute you’re cleaning spit-up off of your work suit before an important meeting, and the next you are waving your children off to college. When life is stressful, and you have a lot on your plate, then it can be easy to miss out on just enjoying the moment, but it is important to be as present as you can. Instead of thinking that you’ll do something in the future, try and do it now. Pay attention, slow down and enjoy every moment that you get with your family. While it might seem like your children are only interested in newest gadgets, or that they just want to spend all their time with their friends, the truth is that what your children will value the most is quality time with you, so take as many moments with them as you can.
In order to create a manageable balance between your home and work life, it is important to set boundaries as to whom you invest your time and energy in. While you might feel guilty about not helping out that college at work, or not being able to invest your time in the PTA, you have to prioritize your time, and that includes putting your own health and wellbeing first too. Don’t forget to look after yourself, because if you aren’t getting all of the energy that you need, you will struggle to function at 100% capacity. Remember to get rest when you need it, stay hydrated throughout the day, and provide energy to your body by eating the right foods.
You are allowed a social life
It may seem like spending time with friends is nothing more than a distant memory, but it is important to keep these relationships strong, even after becoming a parent. As much as you may love your children, for the sake of your own sanity, you cannot only have conversations about dollhouses and action figures, so try and find ways to socialize with adults when you can. One good idea is to set up play dates with other parents, as this allows the children to entertain themselves while you can indulge in some adult conversation with people who understand what it means to juggle life as a parent.