Top 5 Tips For Juggling Work And Parenting
Ok before we get into this post I’m going to start this off with a caveat. Most of the time I am completely winging this whole juggling work and parenting thing. Especially you know.. during a global pandemic, but I’m hoping that if these tips help even one person who’s struggling, I’ll have done my job.
If you don’t know who I am I’m Beth and I head up the Digital side of our business, and I also have a 2.5 year old son. I’m guessing if you’ve clicked on this post, you’re either interested to my thoughts about running my own business as a parent, or you’re also a parent who’s struggling trying to find that balance, especially right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a work in progress, but I feel like over the last 2.5 years of parenting and working from home I’ve managed to form some habits that makes things a lot easier. To also note that I’m writing this post from my perspective as a woman and a mum but don’t get me wrong I know there are loads of different and I’d love to hear if there are any other stories I’d love to hear them.
So, a little bit of insight into my life – when my son was born back in 2018 I took 6 months of maternity leave then went straight back into work. My job at the time was very intense mentally and physically and included travel abroad, and he was looked after either by my husband or a childminder. At the time I would try my best to ensure I was there to help for lunch and bedtime (unless I was out of the house), but I always felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions.
” We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children like they don’t work”
I know that now I am lucky enough to run my own business and I do have the support of a partner at home so I’m immediately in a privileged position where I can be more flexible with my time, but these tips are for anyone looking for some insight. To be honest even if you’re not working right now (for whatever reason), some of these could still be relevant (fingers crossed).
1. Learn to say no
This is something that I’ve struggled with a lot, but learning to say no and setting boundaries where you can is so important. Pick your non-negotiables and stick to them, if you’re working from home and want to be able to stop and have lunch together, then set those out. Or if you’re being asked to have calls late into the evening and that’s the only time you get to yourself (and you know you’ll be up all night with a little one), say no. Boundaries are so important.
If working from home is a new situation for you as well, I know how hard it is to separate yourself from work and home, but it’s key to keeping yourself healthy. I also know there’s a lot of pressure especially in a lot of industries to be available 24/7, but saying yes to everything never works out (trust me – I’ve learned this the hard way!)
2. Be honest
Where most of us are working from home at the moment (and especially if this is a relatively new situation for you), so many people will be trying to work in situations that aren’t exactly ideal. If you have clients to work with, let them know you have little ones at home, you’d be surprised how reasonable people can be.
On the flip side of this through I saw an article recently where a guy on Reddit complained that his colleague was breastfeeding on a call at work. I mean, that terrible baby needing feeding in the daytime.
Don’t be a jerk like Carl.
Any reasonable colleagues or clients will understand if you have children (shout out to Nicola from Neon Moon being understanding recently when I had to run to give kisses to an urgent pinched finger the other day!)
Either way, respect is earned and it’s mutual. A decent company and team will be understanding of your situation, and we’re all trying our best right now, it’s all we can do.
“You’re not working from home you’re at home during a pandemic trying to work”
3. It’s OK to ask for help
I’m the worst for this, and I know especially in a pandemic this is hard to do. But is is there childcare available, if you have a partner can you create a timetable . Creating a support bubble. If you’re working, can you ask your boss for more flexible hours? It’s OK to admit that it’s not possible to do it all.
I know for most parents you’re constantly in a battle of trying to work while feeling a tie to wanting to be more present with your child. Then when you’re with your child you’re worrying about deadlines and all the work you need to do. It’s an impossible situation, but it’s OK to say I need help.
4. Make sure you rest
Last night my son decided he wanted to have a hide and seek party at 3am, and honestly I didn’t know how I would get through the day. I know it’s easier said than done most days, but being burned out doesn’t help anyone.
Even if you take 10 minutes for yourself in the day to scroll on your phone or listen to a podcast, recharging your batteries is so important. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself.
5. Be realistic with your time
Look, we all know that there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything on the day. You’re wearing a thousand hats and juggling so many plates. Emotional labour, parent, oh god I need to do some washing, wait did I order that birthday card? Oh no I forgot to eat lunch again.
You’re not going to be able to do it all, and that’s OK. Set realistic goals for your day, and lay out your time in a way that’s realistic and manageable.
Either way you got this!
If you are really struggling right now, please do reach out to someone for help:
- CALM (CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.) Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
- Mind – Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
- Samaritans– Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
- Refuge – Advice on dealing with domestic violence. Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)
I’d love to know what are your tips for balancing working (especially from home right now) and parenting?
Leave us a comment below, or come and chat with us on Instagram