Today, many parents have become familiar with the term “parent guilt”. Balancing a career and family can be a challenge and parents often feel that they are not spending the time they want with their children due to being pulled in so many different directions. So how do parents stay more present and balance their careers, household responsibilities, and children?
- Stay Organized – Staying organized throughout your day can be one of the most helpful ways to stay present. For one, it helps improve efficiency and it also makes more time for other activities and tasks in your day – like spending time with your partner and children. Planning meals ahead can be a huge time saver. How many times have you or your partner come home from work and spent far too much time trying to figure out what to make for dinner? By creating a weekly menu, you are eliminating the guess work out of what to make and it also allows you to properly prepare for the week as well. Since you will know what you will be making each day, you can make one trip to the grocery store for the entire week instead of having to go multiple times when you realize you are missing one ingredient for your meal. Knowing what you are making ahead of time also gives you the opportunity to prepare the night before if the family has a hectic day coming up.
Families can minimize on clean up time by creating a home for everything and ensure the family knows where things belong. In your children’s rooms or playroom, create organized areas for them with bins or cubbies to ensure toys are put back where they belong. On the outside of the bins or cubbies, place photos of the types of items that belong there to help younger children remember where to put things.
A family calendar is also a great way to start creating organization for yourself and your family. Set aside 20 minutes or so every Sunday to go through your family calendar to ensure it is updated and includes all appointments and family activities. Depending on the type of family calendar you purchase or create, it can also include birthdays, bill due dates, and chore charts for your children. Having a family calendar is a great way to help reduce scheduling conflicts and ensure that there is time for fun, too.
- Involve Your Children – If your children are old enough, involve them in the daily activities that you may not usually include them in and that keep you from spending time with them. Dinner can take a good amount of time out of your evening between preparation and clean up, so why not have your child help you out? Even if the actual dinner preparation is something they can’t help with, perhaps they can help with setting the table, cleaning up or working on chores focused in the kitchen. This gives you the opportunity to spend time with them and encourages children to follow directions.
Families can also find age appropriate chores for their children to help lessen the amount of housework yourself and your partner have to do that take away time from taking part in fun family activities. Families can also set aside a time each week where the whole family does there assigned chores at the same time. Play fun music or make a game of doing the housework to make it more fun for everyone.
- Celebrate Achievements – Whenever your child reaches a goal such as completing all of their chores without being reminded, or receiving good grades at school, celebrate! Take the time to do something that doesn’t happen in their daily routines. This could include having a special treat or going out to dinner. These special rewards can be done as a family, or even as one-on-one with parents and child. Not only will this be a fun celebration with their parents and family, but your children will recognize that they are being rewarded for these good behaviors and it will encourage them to keep reaching for goals that can be celebrated.
Having a tough time thinking of ways to reward your children when you have a million other things on your mind? Take some time to create an “Activity Jar”. On popsicle sticks, write down activities that you can do with your children and put them in a mason jar. When your child reaches a goal, have them pick out a popsicle stick, and the activity written will be how you celebrate!
In what ways do you balance work and family?