What is important to you as a working parent?
As a co-chair of Burness Paull’s BeValued parents and carers networking group in Aberdeen, I meet regularly with colleagues across the firm to discuss issues that are important to our people.
We cover a variety of issues including flexible working, parent and caring responsibilities, children and social media and general wellbeing. We recently met to discuss coping mechanisms for working parents and carers.
As a full-time working mum juggling work and childcare responsibilities, it was hugely comforting to know that we were not alone in the way that we had sometimes felt and that the issues that we had each faced were shared by others.
A key aspect of the BeValued group is to provide a support network for each other. It is important that, whatever the issue we face as a parent or carer, that there is practical and emotional support available.
For many of us, admitting that something isn’t working or that we aren’t coping is so very hard to do, and asking for help is even harder. Acknowledging that we all faced challenges including finding a working pattern that suits, achieving a work / life balance, childcare issues, flexible working issues and issues around the sharing of responsibilities, we talked about the practical strategies we use to help.
In no particular order, they were:
- Make your own rules and standards and judge yourself only with reference to them; don’t compare yourself to others.
- Devise a routine and stick to it; but accept that it may need to change as time goes on.
- Be organised: make up school and / or nursery bags the night before; set out clothes.
- Use a calendar / planner: plan your week in advance, plan the family movements.
- Shopping: use online ordering, plan meals in advance.
- Be kind to yourself – some days are better than others. Don’t try to do too much.
- Make time for yourself. Make you the priority.
- Be accepting; there are days where you won’t be the best parent, carer, partner, colleague. That’s ok. Not everything can be perfect all the time. Every day is a new day.
- Prioritise. Focus on what is important. Ignore what’s not important. Don’t beat yourself up about ignoring the unimportant.
- Ask for help. It’s never as bad as you think it will be.
- It’s good to talk. A problem shared etc…..
The more we can talk openly about the challenges of working whilst juggling parenting or caring responsibilities, the greater the awareness will be for employers and colleagues alike, and the better placed we are to overcome these.
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