PARENTING

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Parenting is the ultimate long-term investment. Be prepared to put far more into it than you get out of it, at least for some time.  The happiness of couples plummets the minute they become parents. And it gets worse before it gets better. In the long run, however, it can be the most rewarding job of your life.

From talking and reading to infants to making values clear (best done in conversations around the dinner table), parents exert enormous influence over their children’s development. They are, however, not the only influences, especially after children enter school. It is especially important that parents give children a good start, but it’s also important for parents to recognize that kids come into the world with their own temperaments, and it is the parents’ job to provide an interface with the world that eventually prepares a child for complete independence. In a rapidly changing world, parenting seems subject to fads and changing styles, and parenting in some ways has become a competitive sport.

But the needs of child development as delineated by science remain relatively stable. There is such a thing as overparenting, and aiming for perfection in parenting might be a fool’s mission. Too much parenting cripples children as they move into adulthood, renders them unable to cope with the merest setbacks, and is believed to be a major cause of failure-to-launch syndrome.

There is such a thing as too-little parenting, and research establishes that lack of parental engagement often leads to poor behavioral outcomes in children, in part because it encourages the young to be too reliant on peer culture. Ironically, harsh or authoritarian styles of parenting can have the same effect.

It’s never easy being a mom trying to juggle a full-time job with a family life.

More moms than ever are in the workforce. “women now make up half of all workers, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother.” Being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. The key is to focus on a plan, get organized, and find the right balance between profession and parenthood.

Let Go of the Guilt

Rather than dwell on how you’re not with your child, think about how your role in the company is benefitting the family. Perhaps you can afford certain classes or educational opportunities for your children or you’re able to put away savings for college. “The most successful career moms have found ways to be efficient in both worlds—and that requires being able to come to terms with choices and focus on the priorities that are in the moment,” Accept that there will be good and bad days. Mothers should know they are not alone and they should discuss their feelings with partners or support groups.

Make the Mornings Easier

Avoid starting the day on a frazzled note by getting organised the night before. Pack the kids’ lunches, lay out their clothes (plus your own), and have. shower. “You should also decide what to make for breakfast, and repack the diaper bag, backpacks, purses, or work bags to be placed by the door, right next to your keys, so you can grab them and lock up on your way out,”

Look over the next day’s to-do list and divide the schedule, determining which parent gets the kids dressed, buys necessary groceries, and cooks the meals. This is also a good time to discuss any changes to the family schedule. Knowing that a lot of the mundane tasks are completed will allow you to spend a few minutes eating breakfast with the kids without rushing out of the house.

Create and Organize a Family Calendar

Figure out your family’s priorities. A calendar can include dates when bills are due, a chore chart for the kids, a list of school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, and more.

Set aside 15 minutes each Sunday to review and prepare for the upcoming week’s schedule. This helps eliminate surprises during the week.

Staying organized is also about having a clean environment.

Have a “family command station” near an entranceway, where important papers and documents are placed, along with keys, chargers, batteries and petty cash. Carving out dedicated spots will save time and improve efficiency in your home.

Communicate with Your Employer

Before talking to your employer or HR representative, construct a written plan detailing what you need. “researching whether other employees have flexible arrangements and using this information to your advantage… This information will help tailor your proposal to the terms that your employer has already embraced with your coworkers.” Every employer is different, and only you will know how much to share, but try to be as open and honest as possible. Be prepared to present alternative solutions, such as a trial period of your projected work schedule so you can show how the arrangement won’t restrict productivity.

Moms seeking maternity leave should ask questions when speaking with a supervisor. The two biggest questions to ask are “How much time can I take off?” and “How much of that time will be paid?” Discuss using short-term disability or vacation/sick time to cover some of your time away from the office.  “It’s best to know those answers to avoid any confusion during your leave.”

Stay Connected During the Day

Stay connected with your children even when you’re not together. For moms with younger kids, consider recording yourself talking or singing on a video or record your voice reading along to a children’s book  If you’re going to miss or be late to an older child’s event, give her something special in the morning, like a good-luck charm or a personal note. Look into options for filming the event so you can watch it later and not miss a moment. Hang pictures of yourself and your partner so the kids can see your faces. During your breaks at work, call your child; hearing her can help you get through a rough day, and she’ll be comforted to know you’re near.

Limit Distractions and Time Wasters

Be disciplined and set time limits when checking email or making phone calls, things you can do when the kids are sleeping. Reduce TV watching to once a week to maximize time with your partner during the evenings. Try to avoid multitasking, especially when spending time with your children. At your workplace, try to avoid wasting time. Of course you want to have a rapport with coworkers, but numerous email exchanges, casual Internet surfing, gossiping, and long lunches are distractions that will make you less productive. Focus on your tasks at work and talk to coworkers during breaks or lunchtime.

Create Special Family Activities

Making time for your kids is crucial, both during the week and on the weekends, to nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond. If you’re pressed for time, have a family breakfast or a family night with board games or movies. “Create activities that regularly fit into your schedule so everyone knows what to expect and what to look forward to,”  When you do have family outings, avoid talking about work or checking your phone. Instead, focus on your kids’ interests such as friends, classes, and hobbies. With older children, ask for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do it together.

Spend Time with Your Partner

Remember to nurture your relationship with your partner, who will often be the number one person by your side. Start by having monthly date nights to get closer, feel rejuvenated, and enjoy each other’s company. Often, if you’re busy with work and home, your partner is the first to get neglected. Fostering this relationship will bring back some excitement to the marriage or partnership and help you to “check in” with each other. For some couples, going out on a monthly date can be difficult and expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on each other. Have an indoor date night by cooking an elegant meal together or even sitting together with a glass of wine and talking (but not about work or the kids).

Create Moments for Yourself

By managing time wisely, you can fit in valuable “me” time regularly. A refreshing break will help you recharge while taking care of personal needs. “Because your time is divided between your home and your career, make sure to manage your energy well. You can’t be an effective spouse or parent if you’re cranky, so take time to care for yourself to feel relaxed and effective,”. Lose yourself in a book before you go to sleep, take a bubble bath once a week, or treat yourself to a spa day. Fit in time for exercise (like a yoga class) or focus on a hobby. Remember to eat well and get enough rest—simple things that even the smartest moms neglect.

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