By Amy Morin
The stress of juggling childrearing responsibilities with the demands of work takes a toll on many parents’ personal and professional lives. Over 50% of all employees report that job demands interfere with their personal responsibilities, while 43% of employees say that their family responsibilities interfere with their work performance, according to a 2007 study from the American Psychological Association. Often, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and meet everyone’s needs.
While managing a career and family leaves some parents feeling guilty and frazzled, others seem to be able to effortlessly balance parenthood with full-time work. Parents who are able to raise well-adjusted children while also maintaining a career have to make sacrifices in order to keep the peace. Here are the five things many parents give up to achieve a successful work-life balance:
- Their Pride About Asking for Help
Even in today’s world, it takes a village to raise a child. Asking for help requires humility, but seeking support can be one of the biggest keys to success. This is especially true for single parents. Successful parents don’t necessarily depend on others, but are often willing to trade favors. For example, they may ask for help driving the kids to soccer practice in exchange for taking over weekend carpool duties for other busy families. When parents arrange for assistance that ensures their kids are being cared for, they’re able to be more productive at work
- The Belief That They Need to Split Their Time Equally
Achieving a balance between career and children doesn’t necessarily mean the time is split evenly. Successful parents understand that there will be times when their family will need more attention and times when a career will demand more energy. They don’t try to divide the time equally and fairly. Instead, they remain flexible. They evaluate their progress and determine where they need to devote their attention on a regular basis. When their work-life balance seems off-kilter, they readjust to meet the demand.
- The Idea That They Have to Neglect Themselves
There’s a reason why airlines say that in the event of an emergency you should put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting anyone else. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have anything left to give. When you’re feeling overtired and stretched too thin, it may seem incomprehensible to squeeze in a little “me time.” But, the fact is, those times when you feel like you can’t possibly spare a minute for yourself, are likely the times when you need “me time” the most.
Successful parents know that taking care of themselves helps their efficiency and productivity over the long-term. Although it’s important to get plenty of sleep and relaxation, exercise may be even more important. Engaging in daily physical activity won’t only improve your health, but it can also be the key to maintaining a balance between home and work, according to a research study that is about to be published in Human Resource Management.
- The Desire To Always Make Their Kids Happy
Parents who achieve a successful work-life balance don’t live and breathe to make their kids happy. Instead, they strive to raise responsible children that will grow to become responsible adults. They’re willing to ask kids to help out around the house. They assign chores and teach responsibility without nagging or yelling. They establish clear consequences and aren’t afraid to follow through with them. They role model hard work and allow their children to experience disappointment.
- The Guilt They Experience About Working
Many parents would rather not work full-time, but for many families it just isn’t an option for one parent to stay home. About 44% of full-time working mothers report their ideal situation would be to work part-time, according a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. However, working part-time just isn’t financially feasible for many families. Parents who successfully balance their work and home life, don’t waste time and energy on guilt over the fact that they’re working. Instead, they either work on a plan to solve the problem – like work flexible hours – or they accept that they’ll need to maintain a full-time job while raising children.
Parents who successfully balance parenting and work understand that making their children a priority sometimes means working hard to meet their children’s needs. The reality is, many parents have to work to pay the bills. However, it is possible for working parents to still be quality parents. Successful parents focus their spare time and energy on raising the children – not wishing they didn’t have to work.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, psychology instructor, and speaker. Her book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is on sale now. She’s frequently quoted in national media outlets. She also writes for Forbes and About.com. For more visit AmyMorinLCSW.com