6 Tips for Navigating Work and Parenting—On Your Own Terms
Jessie is a mom to three kids. She also has a portrait business and works from home. Navigating the needs of her kids and the needs of her business is not easy. For instance, she was editing a photoshoot with a fast-approaching deadline when her youngest started to cry. “I knew that if I gave him the bottle and I held him and I kissed him, it would be all right. But I had this deadline over my head, and for some reason I couldn’t let it go. So I’m emailing the parent, and I’m trying to work…all the while feeling bad about myself and this choice. I’m not even sure why I made it. No one benefited in the end.”
Jennifer Senior includes Jessie’s story in her book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Whether your commute to work is a minute walk or an hour on the train, you likely can relate to the challenges of trying to thrive as a parent and as a professional. You likely can relate to the guilt. Oh, the guilt. The guilt that you’re not doing it right. Any of it.
Teresa Hopke is a senior vice president of Life Meets Work, where she leads coaching programs for working parents. One of the biggest challenges her clients struggle with is self-judgement and not feeling good enough. Hopke is a mom to four kids (including a set of twin girls!). As a self-described recovering perfectionist, she used to have Post-It notes on her mirror, on her computer and inside her car that said: “It may not be perfect, but it will be good enough.”
So often we strive for perfection in all areas of our lives, and we inevitably come up short. We feel like mediocre or terrible parents. We feel like mediocre or terrible workers. We feel like we’re missing out.
When navigating work and parenting, there are no quick fixes or easy solutions. But there are strategies. There are tools and approaches you can incorporate into your days to simplify and enrich your life—like the below.
Reconsider your perspective.
There’s a fantastic quote from Heather Peske in Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, which speaks to the power of rethinking our perspective and asking ourselves the right questions—which may or may not look different for you. Peske is a mom to two daughters whose work includes frequent travel. She told Schulte:
“I don’t describe my life as overwhelming. I see it as deeply rich and complex. I feel energized by the challenges I have to confront. I’m not being Pollyannaish and I’m definitely tired. There are compromises and tensions, but I like living that way. Balance is a simplistic formulation because my life is often not balanced. It tips in various directions at different times between my work, my kids, my partner, or myself. But I’ve found that rather than seek perfect balance, it’s better for me to ask myself: Am I trying my best? Am I doing things for the right reasons? Do I make those I love feel loved? Am I happy? And then adjust as I go.”