Being a parent is a full-time job, plain and simple. And you feel the strain of this new full-time job the most in the first year— feeding, soothing, burping, changing, cleaning, repeat.
So, if you have a full-time job— one that pays you— it can be a struggle to figure out how to successfully balance the two. The first thing to realize is that you will never feel like you are truly balancing the two. And that’s ok. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it a little easier on yourself.
Here are a few tips to help you balance your new dueling responsibilities:
Realize work is no longer your baby.
When my daughter was sent home sick from daycare for the fourth week in a row, I felt completely defeated. I was missing another “urgent” meeting and could sense that my boss was growing tired of the sick baby excuse that was my reality. As I held my sleeping daughter in my arms, quietly sobbing and scrolling on my phone, I came across this quote that changed my mindset entirely:
“The only people who will remember that you worked late are your kids.”
So simple, and so true. Who cares if my boss was a little annoyed? What mattered in that moment was that my sick baby was being taken care of.
Set— and stick to—new boundaries.
Pre-parenthood, I worked late and checked emails all hours of the day. Having a baby changed everything. I learned to establish new boundaries, like logging off or leaving the office before 5:30 pm, and no longer saying yes to lunch meetings or weekend work functions. What helped lessen any nagging feelings of work guilt was knowing I could always check in via email to make sure I didn’t miss anything important.
Whether this means a walk around the block or a massage every month, don’t forget to schedule time for the little things that brought you joy pre-parenthood. Making time for yourself may be the first thing to go as you struggle to balance parenthood and working full time, but it’s essential to your success in both.
Learn to say no.
Pre-baby, I was a people pleaser who said yes to any plans, even if it was something I dreaded. I went to a 6 am Pilates class just because my coworker invited me (I hate Pilates). I attended a baby shower of my husband’s friend’s wife who I’d met once (and whose name I no longer remember). Once I became a mom, my free time became more sacred and, for my own sanity, I needed to keep my weekends as free as possible. Ensuring Saturdays and Sundays stayed open— or only booked for plans I genuinely wanted to do— made navigating the craziness of the workweek a little easier.
Give yourself grace.
Realize that no one who is raising a small child and working full-time has it all figured out, and if they are pretending to, they are lying.
So, the next time you start to feel guilty because you have to leave work a little early or you miss an impromptu meeting, just remember that while work can usually wait, your child cannot. It’s OK to ask for help, to take some time for yourself and to say no to plans that don’t serve you. You may never feel like you’re excelling at parenthood and your full-time job, but finding a balance and setting new boundaries will help you feel a little better about both. And just know that things will get easier. I promise.
By Ali M., writer & mom of a 3 year old
Mommy put the computer away.
The work emails will just have to wait. Again.
Get a good contraption to hold your baby so you join a quick meeting or answer a few emails. This one was a life-saver and very affordable.
Feeling overwhelmed here, thinking I should be working, doing laundry, putting away toys, exercising. But now I wouldn’t take back a minute of this time we had together.