Being a working parent is not easy. There’s often a busy rush in the morning to get out the door on time, then back in time to collect children, switching from work to parent mode throughout the day and often into the evening. You can strive to get a work life balance but things don’t always seem to work out in a way that keeps employees, colleagues, clients, partners, children, (let alone you) happy. That said, the health of the working parent is crucial to the health of the family, so adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits, minimising negative stress and having time out is high priority. It will also help you be more productive at work and happier at home. Here are some practical tips from the Vavista team:
Claire Callaghan, Physiotherapist and Account Manager
As a working mum with young kids, I find it hard to take time out for exercise and see friends. I often try and combine the two by running or playing tennis with friends and swimming with my family. I try and get outside at lunch, even for 10 minutes for a quick walk. Minimising screen time for kids (and adults) is hard, but as a family, we try to have set times, such as mealtimes and half an hour before bed, where we are not looking at the computers or television and focus on being together.
Stuart Shaw, Business Development Manager
Family life can become stressful at times and that is just a part of life. Our children tend to copy our behaviours so it can be really positive to develop good stress management habits. So what are the good habits? Here are just a few:
- Take a few deep breaths before responding to provocative behaviours. Slowing down our breathing can help to reduce our body’s impulse to respond immediately before all the information is available.
- Be grateful for positive experiences that come from family life
- Look after your body – it’s not just a transport for your mind, your body affects how you feel and whether you feel you can cope with problems. Eat well, stay hydrated and move about, outside if possible. Do that with your family if you can persuade them!
Emma Gould, Operations Manager
Each stage of being a working parent comes with its challenges and joy, but I was not expecting to worry so much as my children moved towards adulthood and the reality of life tested them. I have noticed that my children still react off my mood and need me to be strong, positive and a listener – even though some of the things we discuss I would never have discussed with my parents. I really value what they say and the experiences they are having, we talk openly about drugs, alcohol and mental health, however, I am somewhat challenged when we talk about sex. I watch the ‘rubbish’ they watch on tv and I listen to radio 1 to ensure I am up to date with the music they like, but interestingly they like to watch the ‘rubbish’ we like to watch and can sing along to all our old music. The three things I would recommend as a working parent is ensuring you all sit together for a home cooked meal at least once a week and lighten up about mobile phone use …. Show an interest in what they are watching and doing rather than fight against it ….. and lastly each day as challenged as you might be with them be thankful and laugh …. Our children if allowed can be great fun!
Being a working parent can be stressful and create anxiety. Forgive yourself for uncertainty or guilt, and know you are not alone. Try and create working arrangements that mean you don’t have to be available to everyone at work and at home all of the time. Your managers and Human Resources team can assist you with having flexibility and creating that balance. Without this clarity, there can be a sense of frustration that you are not able to give working or parenting 100%, a feeling most working parents can relate to. It’s important to reflect on achievements as a successful, fulfilled working parent, rather than two separate entities, and be confident in that. Your work ethic and organisational skills are setting a positive, healthy example for the next generation.