by Tahira Shameem
I am sure parents and especially moms like me (I have 3 daughters) have tons of stories and ideas to share on how to balance both without compromising either. Working and parenting both require considerable amounts of time and effort. However, with some careful thought and planning, it’s possible to be quite good — Won’t say “Perfect”, as I personally don’t get that feeling of being perfect at both, there is that feeling of “Could have been better” always — at home and on the job.
Is work-life balance required for parents?
Come on all the Mothers and Fathers and Aunts and Uncles and everyone who has faced or seen people around with them juggling with Kids and Jobs, it’s time to share things and learn from each other’s experience.
My experience began even before our first born. A lot of discussion was had with my husband even before our first baby was planned. Since both of us worked regular office Jobs, we thoroughly planned about Mat Leave, Pat Leave, extension of Mat leave if needed, back-up support at home while I rejoined the Office, plus we kept some options ready for a caretaker too and if either of our parents could support us if needed.
Lots of interesting brain-storming and fun too as some of the elders around thought that we are over-thinking and over-planning, but, we knew what we are getting into.
How do you parent and work?
Today is all about taking time to STOP and EVALUATE your current situation when it comes to whether you’re balancing your work and family the way you want to.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What could I do better in terms of achieving the balance I want between parenthood and work?
It’s not often that we stop to take the time and evaluate, especially once kids come into the mix. Share your thoughts and let’s bounce ideas off.
In our household, it happens quite regularly. We make a decision and in course of time we figure out a better way of doing that. A simple example early on was the location of baby’s bed. Our thought was a baby needs a calm and indoor place away from the window or any noise. Very soon, we realized that while the baby is awake it needs a good location near the window, getting fresh air, enough sunlight and should get exposed to the natural noises around her — a calm bed is only when she sleeps. So, we created two customized locations for the baby in the first few months.
Even now, I plan a specific time to get the kid’s school homework or assignment done and then figure out that it may not be appropriate time as the younger one feels sleepy at that time and the older one need a lot more concentration and peace while doing her homework instead of noise from the siblings. Now, I have two separate slots to take care of their school studies depending upon which one suits better for younger and the older lot and my daily work too. With a focus on convenience and feasibility, our timing with kids is now customized, it’s more quality time.
When a ball just drops…
Despite all the proactive planning and the balancing act, can you think of times when you dropped the ball and gave more importance to your work thereby causing imbalance in your duties and commitments as a Parent. If so, what were the effects and how did you fix it?
I faced some situations that got me into feeling guilty for what I am prioritizing at that moment:
- Even a delay in changing diaper because I am stuck with some assignment got me into feeling guilty though the baby appears fine at that moment.
- I had a few canceled plans with my kids at the last moment as something important popped up at the Office, but, I consciously ensured that the miss was compensated with a better plan and a lot more fun. It was a disappointment for a small time but they were very happy with the better time.
- With the kids growing up now, they have better understanding of my work schedule and commitments and I get some expectation setting done with them. It’s good that they are prepared if some last-minute changes happen to our plan too as they know something more exciting would come their way.
Do you have a Plan B?
How important it is to “Have a Plan B” while managing kids & work? We may have a situation where we fall sick and our partner is being the care-taker, or we have planned or un-planned leave or urgent work submissions that need to get to the client. Do you think that having an effective contingency plan lets you consistently deliver at work and at home — and reduces your stress significantly? Has anyone had a plan that worked for them? Or maybe you didn’t have one and wished they had? Or didn’t have a plan and everything was completely fine?
I remember of temporary arrangement as Plan B. When my daughter was three years old and was managing to communicate well, we consciously ensured she socialized with other neighboring kids and close families. We got her accustomed to staying for shorter durations for play time with the neighboring family and their kids who were our close friends too. This arrangement helped us when our care taker had some emergency and could not come and both of us had important assignment to attend in Office. My daughter felt quite comfortable with her friends and we could manage to complete our tasks and were back soon.
They also shared the same comfort with us and we supported them with their kids too when they needed some baby-sitting. It was a Good Collaboration and Support System !!!
When is it a time to change?
Let’s take time and think over these points again and if there is a need to change something in our lives to make it more meaningful as an individual and more so as a parent.
As our kids grow up, do we prepare them to accept the importance of work-life balance for parents? Do we prepare them to show flexibility and understanding to make it easier and successful for both? If so, how and when should it start?
Please, share your own stories below. I hope this gave you things to think about — it certainly kept our community buzzing with work-life balance stories!