Working parents are a common occurrence in today's labor force. Many moms and dads are working hard to balance their personal and professional responsibilities, juggling overtime hours and big reports with soccer games and babysitters to find the best game plan. How can you make it work for you? Consider these three basic questions when working on a strategy with your family.
Does your family know what you do? Sure, your kids (and your spouse!) might know you go to an office everyday, but it's good for them to know what you do there for eight hours. Answer their questions about your job, bring them to work one day (if possible) and talk to them about your daily on-the-job experiences. Knowing more about your job will make them feel more grown up and provides a concrete idea in their heads about what their parents do while they're in school or at the babysitter's house. This communication also encourages children to do the same thing-tell you more about their day.
When is your scheduled family time? Maybe it's dinner together every night or a walk around the neighborhood every morning. Whatever you and your family enjoy, be sure there is a somewhat scheduled time for you to talk about your day, share ideas and plan the next family game night or sports event. A regular time to spend together is a comfort when the bustle of work and school seems to have everyone preoccupied. Consider a daily 'family time'-even if it's only for half an hour before bed-as well as weekend activities with your family.
What is your limit at home and at work? It's important to have a clear understanding-before the next big work disaster or schedule change at home-of where you will draw the line when it comes to work and family. Make it clear to both your employer and your family that if you say you will be at a ballet recital, you'll be there. Or that when a superior calls for a late-night project you will sometimes not be home on time. If those around you (both co-workers and family members) understand that these things may happen, they will be ten times more comfortable dealing with them when the actually occur.