Over the past several decades, the number of two-parent households where both parents work full-time has increased significantly, up to 46 percent (up from 31 percent in 1970, according to Pew Research Center.)
While double-income parenting comes with a lot of benefits, especially after the Great Recession, such as less financial stress and more stability, it also comes with its fair share of family stress. How do you find time to make it to your child’s basketball game or recital when you constantly have to work late? How can you make sure you and your spouse share household tasks equally? And what do you do when your kid is sick and don’t have any more days you can take off?
The 2015 Pew study found that 4 out of 10 working moms always feel rushed. Leisure time isn’t even an option too – 6 out of 10 say they “don’t have enough time away from their children to get together with friends or to pursue hobbies and other interests.”
Balancing work and family can seem like a herculean task at times, but it can be done, at least somewhat. Here are a few tips to help manage the stress, and joys, of work and parenting when both parents work.
1. The right childcare
Choosing the right childcare for both you and your child can give you more flexibility in your schedule. There are plenty of options available, such as before or after-school daycare. Adjusting to the daycare environment can be difficult at first for your child, and so it’s important to help your child with the process. For instance, help your child settle in, start a goodbye routine, validate his or her feelings, and give your child something to look forward to at home.
2. Division of labor
Try finding time to sit down your partner to assess each other’s work schedules and plan out the week. Figure out who should do which chores that week based on availability, and find a good balance of work between the two of you.
3. Be realistic
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with deadlines and important assignments at work. Successful communication with your supervisor is key when it comes to letting them know about the time you will take to finish any given project, rather than stressing over it and letting your family life suffer in the process. Be reasonable with your estimations and find a healthy equilibrium of professional goals and family time.
4. Quality family time
Despite how busy it could get for the both of you, it’s important to have assigned family hours. Make sure you spend a certain part of the day together and find time to talk, catch up, and listen to each other. Try to eat your meals together as a family at least once a day and make special weekend plans, such as going to the movies or cooking together.
5. Make time for your partner
While it is important to be together as a family, it is equally important to find time for your partner. Show that you care, through everyday gestures or anniversary dinners and birthday celebrations.
6. Reflect on your priorities
Think about your goals and possibly reset them, keeping the needs of your family in mind. Having a family is certainly no reason to hold back on professional ambition, but it might need a little planning between you and your partner so your neither your career or family suffers. Talk to each other, discuss your career goals, and complement your plans around the requirements of your family.
7. Know your limits
There will be times when the shuffling between work and home will get too exhausting. It is important that you are honest with yourself and know where to draw the line.
8. Find time for yourself
Make it a point to find time for yourself. Be it exercising, reading or playing an instrument, taking a break from both work and family to enjoy something you like is very important for your mental health. Having time for yourself is crucial for all aspects of family, work, and your relationship with your partner.