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First and foremost, please remember that no family situation is “perfect”. You and your family will develop, or maybe already have, your own style and your own routines.
My husband and I struggled for a long time after having our eldest son. And adding our youngest daughter to the mix? It was hell for us both while working full-time.
Join us as we reveal the six essential strategies we put into place for a more peaceful and, most importantly, happy life together.
Strategy One: Ditch the Guilt
Can we start by clarifying that you are not a so-called “bad parent” for not giving up your career for your children? Far too many parents, particularly mothers, are convinced into the mindset that they must give up any sort of successful career after having babies. And that only one parent may take that path.
Of course, children take up time. However, the success and fulfillment of both parents is equally important. It is possible to dedicate your time to working and parenting.
With two working parents, not only will your household income be higher, but you will be teaching your children key life skills. Children tend to idealize their parents and even worship their capability.
This is suggesting that, in a household where both parents work, your kids may idealize the dedication and productivity of you and your partner. They’ll learn about hard work and commitment from you both.
Strategy Two: Create Structure to Your Lives
With parenting, things can become a little all over the place. This is especially common with more than one child and in situations where both parents work. By dictating a semi-flexible structure into your family life, obstacles can be overcome.
Let’s start by saying that you and your partner often take it in turns to drop the kids off at school. Structuralize this simple step of the morning by creating a weekly schedule for which one of you will take the kids to school each day.
This way you’ll take away one decision every morning and be able to plan in advance. Your kids will also benefit from the new routine without any uncertainty. Psychiatrists and professionals often speak of the importance of routines for children.
Furthermore, try to keep basics the same, so that your children do not become overwhelmed with the amount you both are working. Explore fun options such as after school clubs or sports teams for kids— these tend to be at the same time every week. This will give them their own structure and fun activity, rather than you having to leave work early and falling behind.
Strategy Three: Schedule in as Much as Possible
We have structure, but what can we create on top of that? A schedule. This is not only something beneficial to families where both parents work, but to everyone.
A schedule is a means of organization. The level of detail you make yours with is up to you. Some people find hour by hour schedules a dream, while others find it very stressful to plan out every hour.
One great way to start is by creating a morning routine, afternoon, and evening schedule in seven columns—one for each day of the week. Then, for example, fill the weekday mornings with your daily events. Here’s an example for your day:
- “Dad dropping kids off at school”
- “Mom has spin cycle class at 7 am”
- “Nanny picks kids up, takes them to the park after school”
- “Nanny with kids at home for homework”
- “Mom home from work for dinner time”
- “Dad has meetings till late”
Now, no one has to have every detail of their day planned out, but a good basic structure can help to alleviate some of the unknowns during the day. It can help both you and your kids be more aware of the daily schedule.
Strategy Four: Be Fully Present
If both parents are working, one of the most important strategies to ensuring your children still feel prioritized is to be fully present when you are with them.
We’ve all heard the phrase “quality not quantity” and this is absolutely applicable to this situation. When spending time with our kids, many of us tend to be still checking work emails or picking up phone calls (guilty!).
In doing so, we are not really paying full attention to our kids. Distractions need to be put away. By this, I mean switching off your phone and putting the work emails to rest.
At first it may seem stressful, your mind may be racing with everything you’re missing. But after a little time, you’ll also feel the benefits of a real break every once in a while. Plus you’ll enjoy the quality time with your little ones.
Next time you are all having dinner together, or maybe having a home movie night, make sure you remember to be fully present.
Strategy Five: Consider Some Extra Help
It is a smart idea to admit when you need some help ensuring your kids have the best upbringing you can manage. Babysitters or nannies can take the pressure off mom and dad while introducing another trustworthy person into your children’s lives.
It may seem daunting at first to give the responsibility of your kids to someone else for some of the day. But it can be a really effective strategy when both parents work.
Having a one-on-one nanny for your children can be a better option than group childcare at schools or nurseries. Your kids will have one person solely focused on their well-being and enjoyment while you are working. This way, the nanny will get to know your children and hopefully create a close bond to ease them while you are not there.
Considering a bilingual nanny would also help your child to learn another language. This could help their grades at school.
Many preschool or elementary schools will have a recommended nannying agency they can suggest to you. Or you can ask your friends and have a close look online. Maybe you even have a friend with an older child who is looking for a job. There are so many options.
Strategy Six: Minimize Stress
We could all use some stress relief. Especially when it comes to our busy lives with kids and a full house. Here are a few ways to reduce your stress levels to create a clearer environment in your mind:
- Playtime with the kids
- Alone time
- Reduce your caffeine consumption
- Try some aromatherapy: invest in an oil diffuser for the house
When we are always running around for work or after our kids—especially in busy households when both parents work—it’s easy to forget about our own needs. We often will put our children’s needs over our own, and this is only natural.
However, the idea that you can’t pour from an empty cup is very much true in this situation. How can we take care of our children if we’re not taking care of ourselves? De-stressing and self-care are perfect ways for both parents to fill up their own cup and take the edge off your busy lives.
Studies reveal that maternal employment does not affect kids’ happiness in adulthood. As much as some may believe it is a negative choice for both parents to work; it’s simply not true.
We are in the 21st century, and the world is moving on!
There you have six strategic secrets to keep your inner calm, create happier lives, and create a modern family life when both parents work.