It's back to school season, which is harder on working parents than anyone else (except, perhaps, the teachers). If you work full-time and have school-age children in your house, you're gearing up for a disruption in your household rhythm as the kids begin the new school year. And if you have multiple children who attend different schools that start at various times in the morning , you may face even greater challenges. And don't even get us started on afternoons. What's a parent to do? As you gear up for the annual back to school scramble, keep these five tips in mind.
Prepare to make difficult choices
You're not going to get absolutely everything you want at no cost whatsoever. That just doesn't happen — not for any parent in any house in any town (despite what social media envy might lead you to believe). At some point, you may have to choose between cutting your workday short, or asking your spouse cut his or her workday short; paying for childcare, or cutting a deal with a helpful relative; working remotely, or building camaraderie and networking smartly at work. And that's just the beginning. All come with certain financial price tags and damage to your peace of mind. That's okay though, because you can make it work. Just know that expecting perfection can lead to trouble.
Make a back to school schedule
Make a schedule for yourself (and your partner, if you have one) centered around your kids'. Incorporate their school hours, extracurricular activities, parent-teacher meetings, and homework time. See what work you can do while your kids are engaged in other activities. Make sure that you put in time to take care of yourself and your needs too. Don't skimp on sleep, for instance, just because you have a lot to do. Start with a back to school schedule, but keep an open mind in case you need to change it as the year progresses. So when an aspect of your current plan isn't working, face it head on and find an alternative before a small problem turns into a big one.
Prepare for emergencies
Sometimes the worst happens, and the routine just comes apart at the seams: the car doesn't start, the sitter gets sick, the kids get sick after your bank of PTO days has long since expired. If this happens (and it probably will) don't panic. Have a backup plan in mind. It might mean leaning on a neighbor, taking an unfamiliar form of public transportation, or calling in a favor from a family member. No matter what, start thinking about it.
Don't share family troubles at work
No matter how much you trust your boss and coworkers, explore every possible alternative before you vent your personal problems in the workplace. You may expect (and deserve) sympathy and an occasional break, especially after all of your hard work and contributions. But try to keep your problems to yourself. Remember that your issues are (probably) not unique. It's likely that many of your coworkers have faced similar troubles, but choose to keep them private. Depending on your contract, your employer ultimately could fire you for having a bad attitude.
Learn to say no
While you don't want to use your boss as a therapist, it's perfectly okay to take the time (and the raises and promotions) that you've rightfully earned. Don't become a doormat; additionally, don't forgo compensation that you deserve because you sometimes need to prioritize your family over your job.
If you're making your best effort to maintain a sustainable balance and your employer simply won't, or can't, acknowledge that you have a life outside of this workplace, it may be time to look for another job. The resume and job search tools at MyPerfectResume can help you launch your search.