To the “Working Parent”

In our rush to make money, we often tend to forget the very reason we are doing it for! Of course, our careers may be our passion, and parenthood may not be all that defines us; but children are a part of our individuality that we can’t give any lesser importance to. As a working parent of a toddler or even an adolescent, there are often moments of stress and guilt of not being able to constantly watch your child, or frustration of them not being what you really expect them to be like. While you must convince yourself that you are going all out to give them the best, here are 12 things that you must always keep in mind.

  1. Stagger your work hours: With younger kids, try to alternate your work hours with your partner’s so that at least one of you is around. Working from home is a popularly considered option these days.
  2. Safety of child: If that doesn’t work, check with your workplace for day care options if provided. Arrange for reliable child care – Grandparents, nannies, stay at home friends or a good quality day-care and keep checking on them occasionally. It’ll help you concentrate better at work.
  3. Plan in advance: You could be running around in a hurry every morning, try to model a more planned and organized lifestyle. Share responsibilities with your partner; prepare clothes and bags the evening before; make your child a part of the choresGet help in the kitchen or maybe skip the elaborate cooking in the mornings. Chop the vegetables and store them in advance, etc.; time taking stuff can just be scheduled for weekends.
  4. Quality family time: Spend at least 30 to 60 minutes of “gadget-less” quality time with the kids – free of TV and phones, every day. Listen to them, and tell them something about your day (not the kind where you crib about the traffic or your boss).Try to have at least one meal together.Try waking an hour earlier instead of sleeping late into the night, and exercise together.Family time at the parks is a great way to start a day.
  5. Aim to build a lot of memories: Take vacations, travel with your child. It’s okay to miss school for some family time. Read, play or maybe cook together on a holiday?
  6. No Compensation: NOTHING under the sun can replace your time. Do not try to make up for the lack of quality time by showering the kids with money or gadgets. Before you buy or give them something, just pause and ask yourself how it is adding value to them.
  7. Empathize: Rules without relationship leads to rebellion. Spare the stick and mind your tongue. Hold your breath and slowly exhale when you feel you are about to lose it. There is always another way. Remember, that if your child lies or hides something from you, there is something about you that stopped him from sharing the truth. Identify and mend it.
  8. Pay Attention: Be observant of any sudden changes in your child’s behavior like sudden isolation, anxiety, absenting from school, frequenting a particular place/person etc. Be his friend.
  9. OWN UP: Your child is JUST YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Do not think that your child is only the school’s and teacher’s business. Do NOT leave scope for a third person into your relationship. Do Not “complain” or threaten the child to do so to the teachers or anybody else. Make the child feel, that no matter what, you are on his side, his savior.
  10. Your vision for your child and your core values: Sit down with your partner and figure out your what goals for your child are. Aligning your core values with this vision will make it easier to make parenting decisions. Follow this link.
  11. Address your stress issues: An irritated and grumpy parent only makes an irritated and grumpy child. If you feel you are stressed with work, try to eat better, exercise or practice some yoga or other recreational activity that uplifts your spirits. Maybe just sit inside your car for ten minutes before you get out so you can leave behind all the stress from the day. If you feel that doesn’t help, consider switching jobs. But in no case, must you lose patience and vent work induced anger/stress on kids.
  12. Spend time with your partner: Give yourself timeouts. Take a warm bath together. Have little random moments of romance. Share and talk. A fulfilling relationship with your partner is sure to take away the stress from your life.

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