Whether you are a working parent or stay-at-home mom or dad, each role comes with a huge set of responsibilities. Being a family lawyer, I can only offer one perspective centered around achieving that work/family balance everyone always talks about. I’m not sure the perfect balance exists and have quickly learned that for me, it’s more of a day by day approach, kind of like March Madness – survive and advance. Below are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
Be present. Whether you’re at work or at home, maximize your time at each by being present in the moment. When you’re at the office, try not to think of the disaster that is your house. When you’re at home, focus on enjoying family time and do your best to leave work at work.
There’s no place for guilt. Feeling guilty for missing time with your kids or feeling guilty for not being able to work late does nothing but cause more stress. There are so many things in life that cause us worry; this should not be one of them. Trust in yourself! It doesn’t matter if you work or stay home, your children look to you as their role model. They watch every move you make and listen to every word you say. Do not feel guilty for the role you have chosen as both provide your children with positive learning experiences!
It takes a village – not only to raise children, but at work too! Surround yourself with a strong support network and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Positive people breed success. You can do this; you just need to trust you can.
Take some “me time.” This is something I haven’t quite figured out myself yet. Everyone needs something that is theirs and theirs alone – whether it’s exercising or reading or just an extra-long shower, take some time each week for yourself to clear your head and do something for you.
Set goals. When children come along, those 5-year career goals that you had for yourself may need to be adjusted and that’s okay. Remember, kids are not a distraction from work, they are the most important work. You can have a family and a great career, you just need to make some adjustments.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a mom is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never loved so much or worried as much as when one of my kids is going through something, be it illness or change. Mother’s intuition is no joke. Follow it no matter what others are telling you.
Do not compare yourself to others. Scrolling through your newsfeed to see what everyone else is doing on a Friday night when you are at home with a sick child is the worst idea ever. Looking at all the happy first day school pictures when yours is laying out on the floor screaming “no school” can be disheartening. Remember, everyone has their struggles…. they just don’t typically post about them.
Approach each day as a new opportunity to learn and grow both at home and work. Bad days are inevitable, so learn from them and move on.
by Jessica Bullock, Director, Woodruff Family Law Group