In today’s modern world, many mothers and fathers struggle to find the right balance between advancing in their career and spending quality time nurturing their relationship with their child. The solution to this problem is an unique as each parent and child, and will depend on the resources you have available to you as a parent. Here’s an overview of some of the challenges involved in finding a balance between career and parenting for different kinds of parents.
Many urban parents choose to work outside the home, both out of the necessity of earning income and a desire to stay current in their career. Traditionally, the father in a family took on the role of working outside the home to earn money while the mother stayed home to care for the children, but now many mothers are choosing to work full-time. When one or both parents work outside the home, the time you do have together as a family becomes more precious and perhaps more pressured, as there are many household tasks that also need attention on evenings and weekends. It can help to set aside a whole morning or afternoon each week for dedicated family time, unplugging the telephone, internet and television during this time and doing something enjoyable together.
In some families, one parent chooses to stay home and care for the children while the other goes out to work. This arrangement provides lots of time for one-on-one interaction between the stay-at-home parent and the child, but the working parent may feel overloaded by work and the parent at home may feel like they are sacrificing their career for their child’s sake. Finding a balance between career and parenting can be difficult as a stay-at-home parent, but it can help to look at the bigger picture and see the time when the children are old enough to attend school as your time to focus on career, or to stay current by working a small number of hours per week or freelancing from home.
Single parents have the responsibility of both earning money and raising their child, so balance is especially important for parents who are going it alone. Most single parents find they must work outside the home out of necessity, unless they are fortunate enough to live in a country with a generous social welfare program. Balance between career and parenting for the single parent involves finding a reliable childcare provider, having a discussion with your employer about your level of ability to take on extra work responsibilities such as overtime, and maintaining a support network of friends and family who can lend a hand when you need a break to take some time for yourself.
Of course, life doesn’t always fit into tidy categories, and there are many parents who have found creative solutions to the career and parenting balancing act, such as working part time, working as a contractor, being self-employed or telecommuting from home. No matter how you strike the balance between developing your career, earning an income and taking care of your family, it is important to set apart some special time for you and your child to do simple things together like playing, talking, throwing a ball around at the playground or reading stories on the couch. You may be able to choose to work somewhere else, but your relationship with your child is one of a kind.
Originally published on Suite101.com on February 15, 2008