10 Ways to Help You Balance Career & Parenting Part II

Part II! Last week we were chatting with Sasha McDowell about working parenthood and things to consider when making the adjustment to working parenthood. She had a lot of good ideas and recommendations for parents looking to take stock of their career and parenting lifestyle and we continue with more today!

6.  Talk to your partner – continually.

Talk to your partner about the vision you each have for raising your children. What are some of the things that you both value? Time as a family? Two incomes? The children spending a certain amount of time with their parents each week? What sacrifices are you willing to make so you can have the things most important to you? Many couples- who value gender equality- end up in roles more “gendered” than they were before they became parents. Women often feel that they do more than half domestically and work that second shift, whether they work full time or not. And if the division of labor is such that one parent works outside the home full time and the other is the lead parent, both roles should be recognized as important and equally valued. Keep talking to each other as your lives and choices evolve and change.

7.  Ask whether a career change is right for you.

Parents who choose to stay home for many years often deeply believe in this choice. Some have ample resources to do so, and some scrape by. They are also often presented with challenges around re-entering the workforce. If you believe it’s too difficult to enter your previous field, or you simply don’t want to sacrifice flexibility, consider a career change. Graduate school can be a great way to make a transition. Many people pursue second careers they are passionate about- nutrition, social work- and can eventually build private practices to have more control over their schedules. It’s also possible to use your old skill set, and do consulting work. Changing careers, and particularly working for yourself, can allow you to do meaningful, challenging work at a fair salary- it can be the antidote to being mommy or daddy tracked!

8.  Be clear on your financial goals.

At the end of the day, we all need to pay our bills. It’s also especially important to plan long-term once you have children- for retirement, college, life insurance, etc. If you haven’t already, spend a year working with a financial planner to be clear on how much you should have in liquid savings, and how much you need to be saving for retirement. A financial planner can also help you establish a college fund, life insurance, and a disability policy. Whether you’re making plenty of money and need to know how to manage it, or you’re taking a salary cut now to be at home but need to return to part or full-time work later, be clear on how much money you need, and by when.

9.  Find areas of your life to double up on getting things done.

Think about what you can get done with your children, and what you need to be alone to accomplish. Can you skip the gym and go on a long walk while pushing your child/ children in the stroller? Can you see friends by setting up play dates? Can you set up play dates that are more conducive to adult socializing, such as meeting in an apartment filled w toys or an open field instead of a busy playground? How about talking on a headset to friends or listening to a podcast while you push the stroller or cook? There is a lot- too much- to get done, and the more you can get two things done at once, the more you will feel like you’re satisfied and moving forward in many different aspects of your life.

10.  Understand that your path may not look the way you anticipated, or the way your peers’ paths look.

All of us have our own value systems informed by our upbringing, past experiences, and beliefs. Just as there is no one right way to raise a family, there is not one clear career trajectory that’s right for everyone. Having children changes each of us in unanticipated ways, and this has a ripple effect throughout the rest of our lives. Be kind to yourself and accept that things may look differently now than you had originally envisioned. What’s most important is that you identify your deepest values, and live a life that’s fulfilling my making choices that feel right to you, your spouse, and your children. Everyone is working hard to make good parenting and career choices. Only you can determine the right path for you.

Jen Mayer