A professional juggler’s guide to working parenthood
For the working parent it can truly seem that even 48 hours in a day would never be enough. From pre-dawn rises to get the children ready for the day, to racing to day care and onto the slog through what can be a seriously challenging working day. Add to this exhausting routine a never ending schedule of social events and attempting to squeeze in even a modicum of me time, for the gym, seeing friends or just relaxing, and the outlook for the working parent seems decidedly tricky.
So just how can the working parent survive with a smile, and what’s more how can they get over the suggestion that despite all of their efforts, that they are somehow failing their children by working. In this guide, we find out.
Let’s get straight to the point: Are you feeling a little guilty?
In today’s world there is so much pressure for the modern parent. From material items to undertaking the right disciplinary approach and onto the sticky issue of working parenthood.
All too many parents are feeling literally pulled in opposite directions: by the need or want to work, whether financial or through choice, and the guilt that is felt when leaving their children within a nursery or with a relative.
However it is here that we want to cut through the noise: it’s absolutely possible to be both a good employee and a good parent. And not only that, plenty of research argues that having a working parent can actually deliver a whole host of benefits for your child.
The many (many) benefits of working parenthood
For the working mother they can look forward to their little girl’s having a future freer from gender inequality, being more likely to have a job within a supervisory role and earning higher wages. As for their little boys they’re more likely to contribute to household chores and become more caring members of a family (Harvard Business School 2015). And, for the family who benefits from both a father and mother in work, there are obvious financial advantages.
On the flip side…
Of course with every line of research there is always plenty to counter it, and indeed there are plenty of studies that tout the benefits of children who have parents who don’t work, such as strength of bond, pace of early development and even doing better at school for children in high school (Stanford Business 2014).
For the working parent it’s then key to balance working life with the activities, time and attention that children require in order to reap the same benefits of stay at home parents.
Working parenthood: It needn’t be an impossible juggling act
1. Harness technology
Technology really can be the busy parent’s friend – from ordering groceries online to booking that doctors appointment and onto the seriously time saving benefits of internet banking. What’s more with family focussed apps with interactive calendars each parent can know one another’s appointments, meetings and social events, as well as older children’s extracurricular activities.
2. Meal plan as if your life depended on it
Eating healthily is essential for not only your children, but also for you and your energy levels. So map out a meal plan each week and pre-cook or freeze dinners during the weekend for super-fast and healthy meals after those exhausting days at work.
3. Reconsider your work life
Due to recent legislation employers are now legally obliged to consider working requests that would provide for a more flexible schedule and an easier life for the working parent, so consider whether different hours would be of benefit to you.
4. Make time for family time – and turn off the tech
Committing to certain ‘family-only’ time is essential for everything from family bonding to helping children complete their homework and progress in school. So commit to family time each day, and turn off the tech so that you’re not distracted!
5. Let go of the guilt, stress and focus upon perfection
Finally you must simply forget about the stress and quest for complete perfection: allow your home to become messy, don’t feel guilty about that one un-freshly prepared meal and enjoy the time that you have watching your child or children grow.
A helping financial hand for the hard working family
The benefits system is often considered something for those who are unemployed, however far from being solely for the unemployed, benefits are very often an essential helping hand from the hardworking parent or parents. Here’s a quick overview of what you may be entitled to:
1. Child Benefit
How much? £20.30 per week for the first child, £13.40 a week for subsequent children.
Who’s Eligible? Everyone, although there is a tax charge if you or your partner earns over £50,000.
2. Tax credits
How much? Depends – Up to £2010 per year
Who’s Eligible? Generally speaking family units, single or otherwise, who earn less than £26,000 per year
Other benefits, such as income support and housing benefit, may also be available according to circumstances. You can find out more over on the Benefits for Families section on Gov.uk.
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