© Scott Griessel | Dreamstime.com
The stress of juggling child-rearing responsibilities with the demands of a career can take its toll, especially if you are a single parent. Being the mother of five, a single parent, and having a demanding career was indeed a very difficult balance.
After always feeling guilty and frazzled, I realized what I was doing was not working. I needed to find the right balance between parenthood and a full-time career. I painfully learned and adopted these five tips that helped me achieve successful work-life balance.
1. Don’t Go It Alone — Ask For Help
Asking for help requires humility and admitting you can’t do everything yourself. Remember, you are not alone and others really do want to help you. Be willing to ask other parents, family members, or friends to help out — it might surprise you how much they are willing to help and what a positive impact it has on your family life.
2. Prioritize Before You Drive Yourself Crazy
Decide what is truly important to you and your children. If a task can wait until tomorrow, let it wait. Instead, spend that precious time with your children. Sit down with a sheet of paper and define your high, medium, and low priorities. If everything falls into your “high” priorities, force yourself to write three items in each category. Once you do this, hold yourself accountable. Let go of the low priorities unless you have spare time.
3. Manage the Working Mom’s Guilt
As a parent, whether you work to pay the bills and/or you work because you enjoy your career, guilt can be ever present. Sometimes the guilt is real but sometimes it’s a false perception. Having five children, I did not make every sports game or school outing, but I found ways to offset my guilt. I resolved to leave work at least once or twice a week on time. Monthly, I would sit down with my children and ask what events they really would like me to attend. I adjusted my work schedule accordingly. Other times, I would tell myself, “It’s okay,” and realize I was offering a positive role model for my children.
4. Time: Quality vs. Quantity
You may have heard the saying “It’s not the quantity of time you spend with your children, it’s the quality.” I truly believe this. When you have time with your children, be in the moment and dedicate your attention to them completely. I remember one night trying to multi-task while having some “one-on-one time” with one of my daughters when she said, “Mom, you are not even listening to me!” She was right. I was physically present but not tuned into her. Make sure time you spend with your children is high quality and that your child feels that.
5. Don’t Forget About You
If you don’t take care of yourself, then how can you take care of your children? Managing your energy is just as important as your time. Start by spending 15 minutes a day doing something that relaxes or re-charges you. For me, it was playing the piano when my children were young. As they got older, I would take a short walk. Just do something every day that helps you have some “me time,” even if for only a few minutes a day.
Author and psychologist Laura Freeman works to help parents understand how to address life’s challenges and be the best parent possible.She is the mom of five.