There are more than 15 parents working at Weber Shandwick Seattle, with one more on the way. The other week we held a baby shower for the newest member of the club, Stefanie Fricke. As part of it, the parents in the office compiled the following list of tips for her on how to juggle work and parenthood.
The demands of parenting can be daunting enough as is, let alone when you are also balancing the demands of a career. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to find ways to flex your work life around your home life. Case in point – last week while in a client meeting, I got a call that my 3-year old had put a rock up her nose and needed to be picked up from daycare immediately. How can you possibly prepare for that?! Thanks to my smartphone, I was able to wrap up a few pressing projects while waiting in the ER.
There are also a number of online resources aimed at helping working parents. MomsRising offers tips for employees and employers on how to create flexible work arrangements. Working Mother has a mix of career and parent advice, some shared through monthly Twitter parties – complete with giveaways. We also encourage you to check out Jenni Hogan as she’s a great model for work-life balance!
Every parent has their own unique circumstances that define how they balance work and family. When times get tough, it can also be nice to have the support of colleagues who have been through it to share their words of wisdom, and in some cases, warnings.
1. Sleep whenever you can grab a minute. It’s really hard to prioritize – but it is the best way you can spend your time when you have a newborn. The one exception might be grabbing a shower.
2. Lay out your clothes and lunch the night before work in order to get out the door on time.
3. When you’re in the newborn phase, keep an extra sweater at your desk. There is rarely a day you can escape the house without some sort of baby mess on your clothes. And you often don’t discover it until you see yourself in the bathroom mirror at work.
4. Have your caregiver or spouse send you pictures or videos of the kid(s) during the week. It’s always exciting to see what they’re up to, and can give you the boost you need to get through the day.
5. Make sure you have a good smartphone, which makes it possible to work from almost anywhere when you’re in a pinch but need to leave the office. If you have no Internet access, you can even turn your phone into a wi-fi hotspot.
6. Mornings are chaotic, and it’s impossible to get out of the house on time. Making lunches for the week on Sunday (e.g. big batch of mac n cheese) and packing lunches (or milk/formula) the night before are both a HUGE help.
7. Accept the fact that your house will never be as clean as you like it…once a kid is in the picture and you’re back to work, it’s just how it is.
8. Make it a priority to take care of yourself. Do something every week for you and only you. It takes a lot of energy to take care of a kid, and you’re way more equipped to do it (and enjoy it) if you also take care of yourself.
9. No matter how much you love that baby, don’t forget to focus on your spouse or partner. Be sure to plan time alone without the baby.
And from one of our veteran parents in the office –
10. Expect the unexpected. It’s a sad day when one of your kids moves out of the house. But it’s an even sadder day when they move back in with their husband and dog.
Image courtesy of Ha-Wee.