An idea for working parents who struggle to fit it all in during the holidays
Originally published: Dec 6, 2017 | Updated: Dec 7, 2019
What if you didn't attend one of your child's holiday programs this year? Not all of them, just one. What if you explained to your child that sometimes, most of the time, he or she is your highest priority and that means that you miss other important things so that you can be with him or her? And what if you went on to explain that sometimes, when you know he or she is safe and happy, other things are a higher priority? Like people in need, planning for the future, or even your job.
Is it possible that action would give your child gifts that could last a lifetime? Might you give them the gift of learning to perform for others, not just you? Might you give him or her the gift of independence (if only for a few minutes)? Might you give him or her a gift they'll greatly appreciate in the future when, as a working parent, he or she knows for sure that a child can feel happy and loved without constant attention from parents?
Working parents throughout social media are in the midst of expressing frustrations that surface during the holidays every year. They're frustrated when school holiday performances and activities are scheduled in the middle of the workday. They wonder how they're expected to be in two places at the same time. They want to be great parents and they want to be great employees. They become frustrated when the system appears to conspire against them.
It might make sense to ask your kids if they think it's important that you attend every single holiday activity. You might be surprised (and relieved) to hear their answers.
Update Dec 7, 2019: Another idea: Send someone in your place (someone with more time) like a grandparent, uncle or aunt, a cousin, a neighbor or a friend who would be honored to fill-in for you. It could be a win-win!
Pointer to research results published by ScienceDaily
When our kids were in school, we knew a couple who were highly respected parents. Imagine my thrill when I learned that they limited their very smart and very talented son to two (or was it three?) extracurricular activities at a time. While other parents were bragging about the hours they spent shuttling their kids from activity to activity, these parents confidently let people know that they thought some reasonable limits were best for their son.
Their confidence set the example I needed to let go of any concern I had that my own kids might be falling behind because they weren't overbooked and in constant motion. It was really helpful and comforting information during a time that I needed more help and comfort!
If you would appreciate knowing that your kids don't need to be booked 24/7, look no further than this article published by ScienceDaily: Are your children overdoing it? Too many extracurricular activities can do more harm than good. It summarizes results from a small study in England and points out that "a busy organized activity schedule can ... potentially harm children's development and wellbeing." It may provide the info working parents need to better manage their time and protect their sanity.
Originally Published: May16, 2018 | Last Updated: Jun 11, 2018
Submitted by Norma Velasco-Hensley
Some people assume that women who spend the majority of their time parenting have no other skills. I beg to differ and am striving to change that perception.
When my kids (ages 8 and 10) were born, I stepped away from the workplace. The new experiences I encountered led me to my true passion; art, design, and technology. Having studied zoology in college, and then having worked in biomedical research, I needed to re-tool. So while the babies were sleeping, I went back to school at night and online.
Now I run my own web development company (novel-creative.com), and I get to do what I love when I work. In an effort to encourage other moms, and change the mistaken perception that dedicated mothers lack skills, I started an instagram account; Smart Moms (@momsaresmarttoo). I want other moms to know that it’s ok to love your kids and love your work. I want to show that you can be a strong, smart individual, with goals and achievements beyond parenthood, and be a badass mom at the same time.
Submitted by Kelly Coon
Throughout the day, I wear a slew of different hats. I'm a mom to three boys and a rescue pup, a wife, a writer, an editor, and as of November of 2017, an author with a book deal from Penguin Random House. I'm over the moon to report that my first young adult fantasy is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2019. It recounts the tale of a 16-year-old healer's apprentice who must save a dying Sumerian king or her little sister will be buried alive to serve him in the Netherworld.
My sons say it's spooky, but cool.
After many years of dedicated work, it's thrilling to be able to say that the book (and its sequel) will be published. It's a lifelong dream fulfilled. A bucket-list item I can check off my list. But this excitement pales compared to the gift I received on Christmas morning. My 10-year-old son, Brady, made me save his gift for last. With bright eyes, he watched me intently as I tore into the package. To my surprise, nestled with the greatest of care inside a little box, was a Harry Potter snitch bookmark, a gift he'd given because, in his words, "Now, you're an author like J. K. Rowling."
It's a trinket I will treasure every day of my life. For in that moment, he hadn't just recognized me as his mom, or his dad's wife, or the crazy person running around doing all the things I do on a daily basis; he'd seen my innermost passion, had recognized it, and had reached across from himself to me to express his shared joy in my journey.
Nothing will ever touch that.
Submitted by Kathy Haselmaier
Few people I know find it easy to keep their house clean while raising kids, and we were no different. But I need some semblance of order to be able to think (and I mean that quite literally), so we kept things under control by hiring someone to come in and clean once a week. We actually started doing this the month we were married and didn't cut back to every-other-week help until our youngest left for college.
One of the biggest benefits of cleaning help is that you have to pick up your stuff before they arrive. Otherwise they'll spend too much time just moving stuff around. So one night a week (the night before cleaning day) we all engaged in a mad dash to put our stuff away. Everyone pitched in, and it always felt like a crisis. There was whining, there were accusations, and at least one of us was usually disgruntled about something. Then, when the task was finished, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream.
I get that not every family is in a position to hire someone to help with cleaning, but every family could modify this idea to meet at least some of their own cleaning needs.
It's also worth noting that the older the kids got, the less they whined about it. By the time they were in junior high or high school, it was just a thing that they did. What I liked most was that it kept things from getting totally out of control, and the ice cream enabled us to end on a good note.
Submitted by Kathryn Twine
When I returned to a part-time work role after taking a break to look after my young children, I was offered a full-time role. Striving to achieve balance in my life, I asked about the possibility of doing the work part-time. “We don’t think that would work,” was what I was told. After a long decision-making process, I gave up the job and went in search of a position that would provide the flexibility I wanted.
I found an advertisement for a job at the Louisa Fleet Recruitment Consultancy and couldn’t believe my eyes. After a quick interview process, I started a new part-time, flexible recruitment role the week after my youngest daughter started school. I had enjoyed the time I spent looking after my children full-time, but I get a different kind of satisfaction from being at work every day.
My children know I care about them deeply. They also see mummy working beyond our home, and early indications are that they admire it as evidenced by my daughter's recent statement, "When I grown up I'd like to help people find jobs just like mummy ... or maybe be a ballerina." (I can't take the credit for the ballerina aspiration though :)
People ask me why I work. We all have days where we don’t feel like working, and sometimes I’ve been working around the house for four hours before I start my recruitment work, but I feel lucky to have a flexible job doing what I love. I like that my kids can see that I go to work on good days and bad days, and I hope that one day my example will provide the reminder they need to persevere in a challenging situation.
Friends and family see that I have a great job that fits in perfectly with family life. But what they don’t see is the rush every morning as I get the kids ready for school, start the laundry, make the breakfast, do the dishes, and take the kids to school before starting my recuitment workday. Working from home may sound like a luxury, but I am often too busy to notice where I’m working. I’ve got a limited number of hours to get the recruitment work done before I need to log off, divert the phones, jump in the car, and be at the school gate with a smile on my face! On good days I can get home in time for a cup of hot tea, help with homework, prepare dinner, help with baths, and put the kids to bed. Other days I need to squeeze in a supermarket run to be sure everyone gets dinner!
Flexibility goes both ways so I sometimes find myself working in the evenings and after school to be sure everything gets done. I’m willing, able, and happy to do it. Because without a business, I don’t have a job at all. And I like my job.