The Working Parents’ STRUGGLE!
5 Tips to help working parents spend more time with their kids.
So Elias asked:
“How to deal with the so many working hours per day while still maintaining a good father figure for the children at home. As an electric engineer sometimes I’m required to stay even more than 9 hours and most of the times it’s not comfortable for me, even now as a single. Thanks!”
Balancing work and family has to be one of the hardest things that parents have to do. My husband and I started our family at a very young age… 18!! So it was definitely a challenge since we always had to balance work, school and the hectic life of being a new parent. We tried our best to schedule our work and college classes so that at least one of us could spend some time at home with our kids to reduce the hours they had to be in daycare.
This meant my husband took classes and worked when I was at home and vice versa as much as possible. We couldn’t always pull this off so our son also spent time in day care centers and with family members. It was tough!!!
This has to be one of the biggest parental challenges. We as parents often feel guilty when we leave our kids in daycare, but we have to go to work! Some of us find comfort in hearing that it’s the quality of the time we spend with our child, not the quantity. Unfortunately, research shows us otherwise. The more time that children spend with their parents, the better off they are in the long run. QUANTITY really does matter!
So what can we do? Here are 5 tips that helped us as we faced the working parents’ struggle.
Tip 1: Seek Out a Family-Friendly Employer
Family-Friendly Employers are difficult to find, but some employers are much more accommodating for working parents than others. Some employers will allow you to bring your child to work with you, provide on-site day care, compressed work weeks, or even allow telecommuting so that you can work from home.
It takes some research to find these types of employers, but they do exist. They are highly sought-ought since many employees build longevity with these employers as this is such a valued employment perk. Some of the most family-friendly employers include big names like Colgate-Palmolive, Google, REI, Prudential, Nokia, and Johnson and Johnson. For a longer list see the Forbes Top 25 Work-Life Balance Employers at http://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45ejigd/no-1-colgate-palmolive/#2724e1332b0e
Fathers are often overlooked by employers as needing family-friendly perks, so you MUST stand up for your rights. You, too, may qualify for time off after the baby is born or to care for a sick child under FMLA regulations so be sure to request your time as needed. Make it clear to your employer that being available for your child is IMPORTANT to you.
Tip 2: Learn How to Juggle
If you have a spouse, try to organize your schedules so that at least one of you can spend more time with your kiddo. If your employer allows FLEX-TIME such as a 4-day work week, make your 4 days from Monday – Thursday and have your spouse make theirs from Tuesday to Friday.
This means your child could have at least one of you around every Monday and Friday. That’s two days less per week of daycare and two days MORE to love on your baby. Don’t know if your employer has Flex-Time? Just ASK!!! Many employers are willing to work with you on this matter, but you have to take the first step and ask.
Tip 3: Change your Career
Sometimes, we just have to realize that the line of work that we are in is just NOT Family-Friendly! This means that if you are serious about prioritizing your children, you will have to change your career. I worked in the Human Resources field for a few years and found myself pulling long hours and working nights and weekends. This was not good for a mother of two! Although the pay was great, no money can recover the lost time with my kids. Knowing that psychology says we must be available for our kids, I took a lower paying job that allowed me to spend more time with my kids.
Reevaluate your career. Jobs that require little education are usually the least flexible when it comes to scheduling and family perks. You would be surprised how your quality of life can change significantly once you obtain a college degree. Also, remember to consider the occupational lifestyle, as some jobs offer less time off than others. A school nurse, for example, will have a more family-friendly schedule than an RN working in a regular hospital setting, so be sure to choose your career and industry wisely!
Yes, it’s true that going to school and being a working parent won’t be easy, but the long term benefits definitely outweigh the short term challenges. Look into a more family-friendly career and the educational requirements for it… you never know where your education can take you.
Click here to read additional info about this topic.
*Quick fact: Parents who graduate from college increase the likelihood of their children also graduating from college.
Tip 4: Down Size and Minimize
When you prioritize your little ones and scale down from a high paying job, this will force you to be more careful with your money. Evaluate your cost of living budget and shave off any unnecessary expenses. If needed, change your lifestyle. Kids would rather have at least one of their parents at home, than own an expensive car, fancy house or go on super luxurious vacations. My husband and I decided to live modestly so that we could spend much more time with our kids.
We love the saying, “Small houses grow BIG love.”
Your children will only be young for a VERY SHORT time. Don’t miss their childhood by working obsessively for material possessions that will wither away.
Tip 5: Negotiate During the Interview
There are some GREAT Family-focused employers in our country. Your job as a concerned and dedicated parent is to do your research and find them. Groom yourself for their culture, and be prepared to show your value to the company in your industry. If you work in a high demand occupation where there is a shortage of workers skilled in your area such as engineering, you are actually in the driver’s seat!
Make topics such as flexible scheduling, working from home, and family-friendly policies, the negotiation points during your interview. At least when you make it clear that you are seeking a family-focused employer you put all your cards on the table up front. You can then make your selection based on what they offer.
It makes me sad when a parent tells me that their child spends long hours in day care, simply because the parent thinks it HAS to be that way! It DOESN’T HAVE to be this way! You can change it, but you will have to your homework to land the ideal job with the best employer. Work up the courage to face your boss and negotiate what’s most important to you…time with your babies!
We hope these tips address the question from Elias, and also help provide tips for many more of you facing the challenges of working parents.
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