Most parents struggle to strike a balance between work and their children without feeling drained out. In the demanding pursuit of providing for their families financially ÔÇô an essential principle in today’s expensive living, there’s little attention and time reserved for children’s emotional needs and family time. All working parents have guilt each time they feel too tired to be good parents who get ‘everything right’. For mothers, this can be especially troubling. They tend to harbous more guilt than their partners because society expects them to be selfless nurturers who always have time despite the strain they get from their work life. Working can become stressful for both parents, and the guilt they carry due to work-family imbalance can lead to a disrupted family life, poor performance at work and even cause numerous health implications such as hypertension and depression.
According to a 2007 study by Duxbury and Higgins, women are more likely than men to report high levels of role overload and caregiver strain. This shouldn’t be the case for two parent households but it normally is, even for parents working similar hours. It’s clear that roles between parents aren’t delegated in a manner that is balanced and time conscious, and children feel neglected if their parents always don’t have time for them. Exhaustion is the most common excuse. When parents are still absorbed in their work and its demands after hours, children may become distant and lack the freedom to express themselves even if their financial needs are being met.
Here are 4 ideas that parents can adopt to bring balance to their lives:
Be more interactive: Instead of always watching soapies or football in the evenings and resorting to sleep thereafter, include your children in your routine. Ask them simple things like how their day was and be eager to listen to their issues. This shows them that you are interested in their opinions and it encourages them to be open in conversations. Another great way to make family time more interesting is to have activities which the whole family can participate in even during the week, such as cooking together or playing board games. Lerato, who works in a day care, says parents must find creative ways to interact with their children in a way that keeps everyone connected to the value of family time.
Figure out family routine: Stay organised and delegate roles to relieve you from feeling overloaded. Do not cling to the idea of being a perfect parent, everyone needs help. Having a schedule in which everyone knows what to do makes things get done quickly and children can do simple tasks such as picking up after themselves. In one of Dr Laura Markham’s articles, a trained Clinical Psychologist, she says even if there is a helper, children do not want to feel like you are leaving the parenting to the helper too. Mothers should also involve their partners in helping with the kids instead of thinking this is a role only assigned to women.
Avoid distractions: Do not bring work issues to the home. When it is after hours, make sure it stays that way. Limit the time you spend on phones and other devices when talking to the children and expect them to do the same when it is family time. It emphasises the importance of quality time between parents and children.
Time for yourself: Some ‘me’ time into your schedule will make you feel more relaxed and happier. You cannot be a good parent if you always feel cranky and overwhelmed by your children and work. Also, as much as giving children attention is important, having time for your spouse will make them feel like a priority. It is vital for a healthy relationship and makes it easier for parenting to be a collaborative effort.