Understand your working-parent template. What’s driving your self-expectations and “shoulds”? Our working-parent template is a collection of all the advice, observations and experiences that we have that develop our view of what working parenthood means and how to be a “good” working parent. It is heavily influenced by our observations and experiences of how our parents managed the demands of working and parenting. It may be helpful for you to spend time writing out/mapping out your template e.g. my mum worked hard and came home and cooked us dinner, I should be doing the same thing.
Know your “why” and develop a positive vision of your working-parent future. 10 years from now, why will you be glad you combined work and family?
Set boundaries between work and parenting. Try to be as focused and present in each, one at a time. Being distracted at work by thoughts of home/children will not lead to your best performance and impact on patient care. Likewise, at home, being distracted by thoughts of work/emails leads to an inattentive parent. Find ways to establish boundaries e.g. putting on your uniform, pair of shoes, moving to a different room, not checking phone.
Build your Village. Whatever your circumstances, try to expand your base of personal and professional support. It takes a village to raise a child; you need a really well-built village if you are a working parent. Use the 8 C worksheet to help you realise who your village is.
Do a calendar audit. Where are the (small) ways you can win time back? It may be that having the weekly shop delivered saves you time, Mealboxes may be another way in which you can win back time and headspace.
Communicate actively and effectively about working parent needs using the “commitment, priorities, next steps, enthusiasm” frame. It is ok to raise your needs as a parent at work; be clear about what you need e.g. time off work to take a child to a medical appointment but also show enthusiasm for your work by explaining how the time will be made up.
Tame difficult feelings by “re-staking” and asking yourself, “really?” As a working parent you are likely at times to experience difficult feelings such as guilt and overwhelm, this is completely normal and demonstrates that you care about your family and your work. “Re-stake” – remind yourself of your love for your child/children and the reasons for your working. When feeling guilty about your family and your negative self-talk is spiralling use “Really?” e.g. Am I really a terrible parent because I missed bed-time story because I was busy working?
Overcome overwhelm by keeping an Already-Done List. To help keep perspective on the situation/ your to-do list, remind yourself of all the things that you have already done, keep a list on your phone or post-it notes on your computer to give yourself a sense of accomplishment. Include small items as well as the large items.
Self-care. Find activities that are truly restorative, not just relaxing, and make them a daily priority (if only for 15 mins).
Connect.You may find that due to your shift patterns/work load that you spend large periods of time not being with your family and feel that you are missing out, particularly if you have younger children. Specific routines and rituals can help with reconnecting to your family e.g walking the dog with the teenager, bed-time story, pizza night. Speak to other working parents, for both practical advice and motivation. (You are not the only person experiencing/feeling same!)
By kind permission of Daisy Dowling, Founder and CEO of Workparent
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