Working after you become a parent is a balancing act that may take some time to get right. It will definitely take some time to get used to!
So is it possible to have it all, to juggle everything and achieve a good work-life balance?
Maybe. Unlikely, to be honest. But you certainly stand a better chance of doing a lot and doing it well by following some simple planning tips and strategies
It's not easy doing any one of these things – full-time work, parenting, studying – but to do them all, you will need to begin by getting organised and surrounding yourself with support.
BE ORGANISED. BE SPECIFIC —
Make a to-do list or several. Working parents have to stay up later to make sure they are ready for the next day. No matter how tired you are, you have to think about tomorrow. Be sure about what you want to do. Make sure you are clear on what your goal is.
GET UP EARLY. WORK OUT A GAME PLAN —
It’s not always easy but getting up before the rest of the house is the best way to get uninterrupted time to work on any project or job. For brand new parents, this is of course, that middle of the night moment when the baby is actually sleeping but you are not! Figure out exactly what you need to reach your goals and make sure you are being realistic. Think about resources such as money, time and tools.
WORK EVERYWHERE. BREAK EVERYTHING DOWN —
It’s amazing the amount of work you can do while taking a walk or driving and thinking. That’s when you can solve a problem or come up with a new way to earn money. It’s the not the best time to take notes though so be careful with this one!
CARRY A NOTEBOOK. IT’S ALL ABOUT TIME MANAGEMENT —
Don’t leave home without a notebook and pens. You never know when an idea will strike or when you will find some free time to work on a project or new idea. Keep a diary or calendar with important dates. When you know what is coming up, you can plan around it and you can set aside specific time for work and identify what you are going to do when. Everything will seem far less daunting if you break it all down into smaller pieces. Whether it is a list or an action plan, write it down. You won’t remember it all otherwise. Plus you can feel good as you tick things off as you accomplish them.
FINE TUNE YOUR WORKLOAD AND PRIORITISE:
You will know you are doing too much when the quality of what you are doing is not as good as you would like it to be. There is a balance and everyone needs to find what that is. No one has an endless reserve of time and energy so work out what is high priority and what can wait. Learn to accept that you cannot do everything.
Sometimes the greatest support is just having someone to talk to. Network with like-minded parents. It will help to keep you on track and maintain your focus.
LOOK AFTER YOUR HEALTH:
You will perform better if you are fit, healthy and eat well. It's not just vanity, it's about being productive in all areas of your life.
SEE THE FUNNY SIDE:
You have got to have time to be silly. You need to have a sense of humour because things aren't always going to go 100% right. Having a sense of humour will help you not take things so seriously.
AN EXTRA PAIR OF HANDS WILL HELP. DELEGATE:
Paying for a part time nanny or au pair can be a good investment and provide you with a better quality of life. This is a tough one for a few reasons. However, if you subscribe to the ‘no-one can do it as well/efficiently/thoroughly/effectively as me school of thought, then you are almost certainty going to fail on this one. Ask your family to take on some of your chores, arrange for a childcare rota with friends, do what is necessary but know that this is an important one so you have to make it happen.
It might be that you need to give consideration to changing the way in which you work.
Consider taking part in a job share
if the opportunity presents itself. Sharing a job can help you to focus on work when you are in the office and on family when you are at home.
with your employer. For example, negotiate leaving work early enough to spend time with your children before they go to bed and perhaps work additional time at home once the children are asleep.
Make the most of your right to request flexible working
with your employer. When you discuss returning to work after maternity leave, make a strong case for working less hours.
Consider working part time
rather than full time. Speak to your employer and find out if it is possible to take a shorter lunch break so you can leave work earlier.
It’s definitely not easy being a parent, having a career, running a home and somehow making time for yourself as well, but it can be done. With the right action plan, a lot of passion, an exorbitant amount of drive and hard work, having it all might not be such a fantasy after all.
Published by Julie Jones