Tips To Balance Work With Parenting
If you are a working mother or father, estimating the hassle of work and home life can at times shoot up your anxiety levels. Here's what you wish you knew from the jump
One of the biggest challenges that govern the workplace is to provide the requisite support to parents as they balance the demands of home and the office.
In our India report as a part of our diversity and inclusion practice with Talking Talent, we found that 66 per cent of new parents reported having taken less parental leave than they would have liked, 3 in 5 respondents believed that their career progression slowed down after having a child (women 64 per cent, men 48 per cent), 66 per cent of working parents feel that they are in some way failing to be the parent they want to be, 76 per cent of new parents are sleep deprived and 67 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men experienced facing ‘working parent guilt’.
If that wasn’t enough of an organizational challenge, a number of mid to senior level millennials are now becoming parents themselves and look to their employers for support. Our survey has found that 73 per cent of younger working parents have expectations around work and parenting that differ from their parents’ generation, with two thirds of millennial parents believing that there is a gap between workplace messaging and reality.
The report has further identified common challenges in order of priority faced by working parents as follows:
25-34 years: Spending quality time with your partner, self-care, giving your family enough attention, managing priorities and having a good social life.
35-44 years: Giving you family enough attention, having a good social life, managing priorities, self-care and spending quality time with your partner.
45-54 years: Managing priorities, self-care, spending quality time with your partner, giving your family enough attention and having a good social life.
While organizations offer parental leave, crèches, flexibility, support networks and more, there is still an ongoing challenge faced by parents across the board in managing both these realms successfully.
As we work with a number of people in our parental coaching and leadership development practice, here are some ways in which we support them with managing the constant tussle of their work and life:
Managing Guilt: The transition to parenting is one of the most difficult transitions in life that is laden with guilt at various stages. Working parent guilt is a real challenge with more than 60 per cent of parents reporting some form of guilt. It is important as a working parent to identify the guilt, understand where it is coming from and address it carefully to work through it by identifying items that are in your control.
Acceptance: The transition to parenting brings with it sleep deprivation, a constant stream of overwhelm, a loss of control of your schedule and the added sense of responsibility, which makes it an unmatched emotional journey. It is important to remember that this is one of the most beautiful phases of life and to accept that there will be aspects of life that you will need to decrease focus on to meet your responsibilities in this realm.
Manage Your Time: While even the mere mention of this seems overwhelming to most parents, getting on top of your own time management is an important skill when balancing parenting and work. Prioritizing, being able to say no when required and getting vigilant about how you spend your time is essential. Remember, you need to give time to be able to make time for the things that matter!
Develop a Professional Ecosystem: While a number of organizations are now driving mentorship and encouraging support networks for new parents, the ecosystem which is most relevant is the immediate team. Developing strong relationships with your team, making sure you actively coordinate with colleagues and keep all stakeholders in the loop on what you are working on will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks in case you need to rush out. It also serves to strengthen team trust and improve team dynamics. And not to mention establishes you more firmly as a team player.
Have a Plan B: Keeping a constant plan B up your sleeve for everything will ensure that you can combat last minute changes easily. Remember, flights will be delayed, nannies will get sick and work will make last minute demands. Rather than face the overwhelm at the time, keep an emergency bag packed, a contingency plan ready and just press go in the event of a change. This will help you feel less stressed and build your resilience.
Ask for Help: It is important to consider that there is no shame, guilt or failure in asking for help from your personal and professional ecosystem. Parenting is not a solo sport and no one can emerge a champion. Remember the famous saying; it takes a village to raise a child.
Build Once, Apply Many: When trying to maximize our time it becomes essential to limit unnecessary decision making. If we can set processes for the more routine tasks it will minimize unnecessary angst and create mind space for bigger decision making. Take a moment to identify areas where you can streamline, automate or just get done with a task in a few minutes. And then apply this across the board. Remember to limit procrastinating on the more mundane tasks.
Appreciate Yourself and Your Partner: In the mad rush of trying to manage life, work and being a parent, we see a number of our clients unable to actually acknowledge how much they are doing in this realm. Remember to take a moment each day to just appreciate yourself so that you feel good about all that you have done. The world of parenting is not easy and if you are raising your child with your partner, make sure to appreciate them too.
Embrace Imperfection: For all the perfectionists out there, it is key to remember that there is no acing the job of a parent. In a number of leaders who we work with, we see them constantly trying to hit a ten on life, work and being a parent. Not only is it exhausting, but can have more serious repercussions on our emotional and mental health, and our relationships. Embracing our vulnerabilities and acknowledging our imperfections only serves to make us more real and relatable.
Enjoy the Journey: Amidst the chaos of trying to manage various dimensions of work, life and parenting, take a moment to reflect on the journey that you chose to embark on. We often get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to have fun in the process. Remember, this is an active choice that you have made in your life so enjoy it for everything that it is.
Parental transition is one of the most challenging phases an individual goes through in their life. For organizations, creating an environment that supports, encourages and nurtures executives during this critical stage is important for both individual and organizational success.