It’s a completely natural feeling, and as parents running a business with three children and a dog, we know what it’s like to feel you’re never quite getting the balance right.
So is there an answer? How do you keep the focus at work and still manage to feel like you’re not the worst mum or dad in the world?
We asked our friends and family (single parents and couples), with babies and children of various ages how they do it, what their strategies are and if, in the end it really makes any difference to how they feel about themselves as parents.
What we discovered was something really interesting. Although there were all kinds of things each person did to juggle the commitments, each strategy had something in common. It involved giving up a fight of some kind.
Take guilt – that’s a big one. Feeling bad from working too many hours, feeling bad for coming home early, not enough time playing, not enough time to rest. No one wins, so the rules have to change. Set boundaries and give yourself some credit – work is essential and you’re the breadwinner in the family. Remember that your own wellbeing counts. Take care of that so when you do have time for play, it’s time the wee ones will always remember.
Ever imagined you could get through life without any help? Of course not, but so often we cringe at the thought of reaching out and asking for childcare favours. It feels like you’ve asked dozens of times, when it’s probably nothing like that. Amongst our circle, the consensus here is that reliability really counts. Asking doesn’t offend, but not turning up on time and being taken for granted definitely does. It’s as straightforward as that. Forget your pride, ask for help, be grateful and keep your word for endless baby favours.
For parents of older children, the challenge seems slightly different where the work/life balance is concerned. Whilst the children are more understanding of the challenges, they still have their needs, and of course we want them to be happy. But what must we do to ensure that happiness? We don’t want to buy it – too expensive in all sorts of ways! But ensuring everyone knows they’re loved and cared for doesn’t cost anything. So we try to focusing on that, rather than something vague like happiness, which takes our anxiety out of the equation and hopefully produces more contented children who value us, rather than what we can buy
(we’ll keep you posted on that one!).
That’s family – it’s a work in progress! And while the work is all on us, we think the best idea is to find different ways to realise and accept we can’t be perfect, but we can do our best. That’s what brings a little contentment – and happy memories along the way – while we’re in the thick of it!