I was recently asked by http://www.njmomsguide.com to speak on a panel discussing the topic of balancing work and family life. My intitial reaction was nervous laughter…. ME? Balanced?? Ha ha, I thought. If they only knew how truly UNBALANCED I am! But then, after giving the idea more consideration, I decided that my perspective on balancing the obligations and challenges that I face as a working parent actually do have some value. So, I agreed to speak at the event. Here are some of the points I made during the presentation:
1. Remember that your decisions need to be right for you and your family. Anyone else’s opinions have no place in the process. Own your decisions and make no apologies for them. Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Both will give you power.
2. Guilt is not productive (Thanks, Mom, for drilling this into my brain!). Every decision that you make comes with it’s own positivie and negatives. Fretting over things you cannot change make you weaker and unable to change the things you want to. The minute you stop trying to be EVERYTHING to EVERYBODY, the happier you will be.
3. Enable your children to grow independent. It is not the worst thing for a child to learn the importance of responsibility. Children are capable of understanding the reality of today’s busy households, and should be called upon to pitch in.
4. Being “class mom” does not make you a better parent. If it is not your thing, don’t try to take it on. There are plenty of ways you can contribute to your child’s school without the huge commitment of being chairperson or PTA President, so just let it go.
5. Develop a network. Since I am a working mom, I have arranged suitable car pools that work for my schedule. I make a point of being sensitive and not over depending on my friends who are stay at home moms. I try to repay special favors that my stay at home moms do for me with something specifically for them, such as a pedicure gift certificate or flowers.
6. Sop catering to your child’s “wants”. My children are old enough now that they can walk or ride bikes to the places they want to go. Just because I am working from home, this does not mean I am here to chauffeur them everywhere they want to go. They can ride a bike! Walk! They need the exercise anyway!
7. Allow your partner to really have a role. Many women do not allow their husbands or partners to truly take on some of the household responsibilities. Whether from guilt or control, women really need to get past it. Men are good at lots of things, IF we let them do them. Stop micromanaging their efforts and you will be surprised at how great they can be!
8. Delegate when you can. Utilize timesavers such as on line grocery shopping and schedule dry cleaning pick up and delivery if possible. Use your time wisely and be organized about your schedule and your family’s schedule. Make the family appointments the most important and try to fit the rest of life around those as best you can. Be sure that your children become responsible for filling in the schedule as well.
10. Keep trying. Life is tricky and each day brings new challenges and different situations. The most important thing we can do is choose to keep a humorous perspective and focus on the things in life that are truly valuable. Spend time each day to acknowledge your family members and remember that things will always work out, especially if you believe in yourself.