Go easy on yourself and find compromises that work for you, your boss and your family says Brandi Britton
The challenges of being a working mom or dad are many, from juggling drop-offs with early morning meetings to finding high-quality yet affordable childcare. Thankfully, some employers are making it easier for staff to balance work and home life.
In a recent OfficeTeam survey, 49 percent of human resources managers said their companies have made changes in the past five years to better accommodate working parents. These organizations are forward-thinking, as family-friendly policies promote loyalty, prevent burnout and reduce the turnover rate.
Unless you have a stay-at-home spouse or a live-in nanny, balancing your administrative job with parenting can be a struggle. Here are five tips for being the best employee possible, while also being there for your family.
- Research company perks. Refresh yourself on what benefits you’re entitled to as a working parent. For example, if you’re expecting or adopting a baby in the near future, you’ll want to know the details of your employer’s parental leave policy and what percentage of your current salary you can expect to receive during your absence. Some companies also contract with services that offer backup childcare.
- Ask for flexibility. When we asked employees what family-friendly perk was most likely to influence their decision to accept a job, the top response by far — cited by 79 percent of respondents — was flexible hours. If you’re a working mom or dad who’s frustrated by a rigid office schedule, request a meeting with your manager to negotiate some alternatives. Perhaps you could shift your hours up or down an hour, or work longer from Monday to Thursday so you can take Friday afternoons off. Be sure to explain how a slightly adjusted schedule would benefit both you and the company.
- Explore remote work options. If your role does not require you to be physically present in the office, telecommuting a few days a week could help you feel less stressed and more in control of your schedule. Another option is to work from home when your boss is traveling and does not need you at your desk.
To make the most of occasional or full-time remote work, maximize technology tools such as those on your smartphone to check work email, online calendars, file-sharing platforms and cloud-based phone conferencing systems, etc.
- Give yourself permission to say ‘no.’ With so many things vying for your attention, it’s okay to decline nonessentials. For example, if coworkers ask you to help with the annual food drive, yet you hardly have time to go grocery shopping, thank them for the opportunity but regretfully say “no.” Or perhaps take a break from serving on a nonprofit board so you could spend more evenings at home.
- Get outside help. Outsourcing is a strategy that can save a working mom or dad’s sanity. And the cost can be lower than you think, especially if you shop around and when you consider what quality time with family is worth. Besides childcare, here are some tasks you can hire others to do:
- AmazonFresh, InstaCart, FreshDirect and some supermarket chains offer online shopping and fast delivery.
- It can be difficult for a working parent to keep up with household chores. Why not hire someone to do them? To save some money, you could hire a cleaner to do just some of the harder or loathsome jobs, such as mopping or scrubbing the tub and toilets.
- Kids are messy, and sometimes a working mom or dad has trouble keeping up with the piles of dirty clothes. A wash-and-fold service, where you pay by the pound, can help when you’re overwhelmed with other parenting duties.
Juggling a job and children isn’t easy, but it’s possible to see your career take off while raising a family. The key to being an effective and sane working mom or dad is to go easy on yourself and find compromises that work for you, your boss and your family — baby step by baby step.