Many people consider having children to be a full-time job in and of itself. When you have a regular day job to attend to, it can seem impossible to take on this new, challenging, high-stakes (not to mention lifelong!) career. The 16th of September is National Working Parents Day, which commemorates those who can do the seemingly impossible: work during the day and raise a child at the same time.
The issue is even greater for single parents – those who are single, divorced, bereaved, or have partners who are gone from home due to deployment, incarceration, disability, or work. Whether it’s staying up late with a feverish child, needing to stay longer at work, dealing with an unexpected emergency, enforcing house rules, or dealing with the plethora of day-to-day decisions. When you’re a single parent, you’re on your own. Knowing it’s entirely up to you, on the other hand, may be a huge, and often liberating, responsibility.
Switch off your cellphone.
Turning off the phone until the kids are safely tucked away in bed is the best approach to maximize the time spent with them. “I think it’s important to establish some boundaries between work and home.” A simple way for me to achieve that is to put my phone away when u get home. Time can be spent focused on the children rather than being distracted by emails or texts.
Divide your responsibilities.
Rebecca, who works as a school administrator, believes that determining which partner will do what and when to care for the child is critical. Rebecca recommends, “Deciding who will manage each of the various responsibilities that come with being a working parent helps minimize unnecessary frustration and provides clarity.” Rebecca gives an illustration of this by splitting nocturnal chores in advance when one of the parents bathes the child, while the other puts the child to bed.
Sharing your time is an important aspect of sharing responsibilities. Another suggestion Rebecca makes is to share calendars with your partner so that everyone is on the same page. “We know if the other parent is going to have an occasional late night at the office,” Rebecca explains, “and it doesn’t take us off guard.”
Go on a quest for harmony.
Family harmony is a constant effort for families, who works in strategy and planning. A family’s drive for harmony is contingent on the sacrifices and ambitions required to achieve balance. “A good friend once told me that the allegory of the plate-spinning acrobat was a wonderful analogy for work-life balance.”
“Ruthlessly prioritize.” This can be done ahead of time by letting your coworkers and manager know that you have a set routine that you keep to. Last-minute requests to stay late or take on an additional assignment can thus be avoided before they occur.
Sacrifices must constantly be made, whether on the “work” or “life” side, and this is something that we as parents should emphasize should be acknowledged early on. These options can then be planned around.
Identify your priorities.
The importance of family comes first. When it comes to deciding where to spend time or energy, always take the time to ask yourself, “Am I investing in my priorities?”
Taking Advantage of Missed Opportunities.
Time is the enemy of single parents; there aren’t enough hours in the day. As a result, single parents must choose where they can save time and prioritize their priorities. They recognize that they can’t do it all and that something must give, whether it’s a cluttered house, an extra hour of screen time for the kids, a shorter dog walk, or dinner takeout (none of which have an influence on their family’s well-being). Recognizing the value of time, single parents take advantage of little opportunities to interact with their children, complete professional commitments, and maximize their time by cramming work and personal tasks into commutes, sports practices, waiting rooms, and odd hours. “Good work can be accomplished in half-hour chunks, and they add up.”