Combining Parenthood and Work

Understanding and Managing the Challenges

Balancing competing demands is a huge challenge for working parents

© iStockphoto/jamestutor

Don't let anyone tell you the term "working parent" is an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. You can work while you parent. And you can do both very well. But no one said it was going to be easy!

Combining parenthood and work is a constant balancing act, fit to challenge the best aerial tightrope walker. Demands and expectations come at you from every direction, making it very difficult just to cope, let alone successfully organize and prioritize your daily tasks. Our children deserve our attention just as much as the organizations that pay us. So who wins in the end?

Traditionally, work has tended to take precedence. However, the family side has been steadily gaining in strength. One consequence of this shift is that more parents and employers are finding that the stress of juggling both roles, and sometimes failing to do a good job of either, can take a big toll on productivity, satisfaction and morale at work.

People who are having a tough time coping with family logistics bring that stress to the workplace. Equally, workplace worries are brought home to the children. If you're not careful, this can become a negative cycle, with damaging results all round. But it doesn't always have to be like this!

So, how do you take back control in order to successfully manage the challenge of being a working parent? Better planning, being more flexible and developing greater patience are key elements to the solution. Read on to find out what this means in practice.

Tips for Parents

So you're returning to paid work, but as a parent this time. It doesn't matter what your circumstances are – you might be a single parent, half of a dual income couple, or simply someone who's passionate about your job. But whatever your reasons for getting back to the office, the first thing you'll probably need to do is...

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