Every parent wants the best for their child. They want to be around them as much as they can, but sometimes the weight of doing two jobs at a time can be overwhelming. Yes, we are talking about working parents. If you are one, then you aren’t alone. Many working parents feel the same pressure. The guilt is normal but shouldn’t keep you from performing either duty well.
Here’s how you can make things better at home – with your child’s expectation without compromising on your performance at work:
Inform your manager
Don’t miss out on parent-teacher meetings or any exhibitions where he/she is participating. Be there to boost their confidence and appreciate them. But, make sure that you speak to your manager about why you won’t be at work. If you share a good rapport, explain why you’ll be away. For instance, “My wife and I are concerned about a dip in <insert child’s name>’s performance at school. I’ll be off to meet his teacher and won’t take long. I should be back by <insert time>.” If not, then say, “I will be out-of-office between <insert time> to attend my child’s parent-teacher meet.”
Stop worrying about what your colleagues think
When you become a parent, your priorities change. You can’t attend every post work get-together or pull all-nighters. Besides, there will be times when you may have to drop everything (example: child’s health emergency). You would also not be able to accommodate any meeting requests if there’s a doctor’s appointment scheduled. While these are some unspoken rules of a working parent’s life, some colleagues who can’t empathize may not understand you. Your job is not to respond to them or feel guilty.
Be more involved at home
Stop thinking about work once you’re home. Spend quality time with your child. Talk about their day at school. Share funny anecdotes, have meals together, watch TV, go out with other families, etc. Get them to talk about their friends and teachers. Help them with their homework. Make them sound heard and important. The more involved you are as a family, the better you handle the pressure of being a working parent.
You may not always be able to attend every event at your child’s school. And, it’s alright. No one’s keeping a count or will reward you for a cent percent attendance at school events. But, just so you don’t disappoint your kid, let them know if you can’t make it. Start by, “I would have loved to be with you and cheer for you, but I have a meeting that I can’t miss. It’s like I have a soccer game too which I can’t miss! But, I would make it to your next game!” At first, it might upset them, but in the long run, you will have prepared them to be more independent.
Talk to other parent colleagues
At times, it helps to have a heart-to-heart conversation with other colleagues. You may receive brilliant advice or have a few of your own ideas to share! Besides, when you have parents who are dealing with the same life experiences, you begin to feel like you’re part of a community. You support each other –whether your child has just started school or is in their teenage years, which is when you may feel the pressure.
Remember: parenting is demanding and exhausting. But if you set your priorities, then half your worries get taken care of. Initially, you may find it tedious, but it only gets better with time.
Tell us if you have any other advice to share. We all could do with more working parents sharing their experiences!