7 Top Tips for Overstretched Working Parents

Copright of McFade Photography

By Carolyn Hobdey, author of Redefining SELFISH.

Being a working parent has long been a challenge, but over the last year the pandemic has added an additional layer as families grappled with homeschooling, shared workspaces and the removal of most of the social pressure-valves we took for granted. Whilst schooling is returning to some kind of normality after lockdown, the world of work has been turned on its head and those dramatic changes remain in place – in whole or in part – for many. So, how do you ensure that your working life remains family-friendly and your sanity remains intact? Here are a few top tips:

  1. Boundaries: be clear about where your working day begins and ends so that the divide between work and family time has a ‘clean edge’. This might need to be different on different days but communicate it to the other members of your household so they both know when not to disturb you and when you will be present with them. That way they can hold you to account to stick to it!
  2. Selfish time: we all benefit from some time to ourselves to recharge our batteries – this is the best way to give your best self to your loved ones. So, whether you live together or separately, agree with whoever you share parental responsibility to some regular time-out from both work and children for each of you.  Use this time – however brief – to do something kind for you. Plan it in regularly and arrange things to look forward to.
  3. Time to talk: when we’re busy, stressed and juggling multiple demands on our time and attention, one of the first things that can suffer is our communication. Whether with a partner or your children, taking time for quality conversations can pay huge dividends – it eliminates misunderstandings before situations escalate and strengthens connections between you. It also helps to develop your child’s communication skills. Swap screen time for talk time.
  4. Saying ‘no’: as the saying goes, “if you want something doing, ask a busy person”. We can all be guilty of taking on more than we should – when you’re already busy there seems no harm in chucking in a few extra things to do! You may let others do this to you, or you may do this to yourself. Either way, get better at saying “no” – to you and others. Commit to not doing one new thing that comes your way each week to keep your task list under control.
  5. Help! When we’re over-stretched and over-wrought sometimes we don’t allow time to stop and think about who could help us and how. Sometimes we think we’re the only person who can effectively do something – sound familiar? Get better at asking for help: be clear about what you need from someone, why they are the best person to help you and when you need their help. If you can be specific as well as asking in person (rather than text or email) where possible, you’ll be much more likely to get a ‘yes’ in response.
  6. Stop comparing: sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our busy selves is accept that we’re doing our best. That the good things that we do are good enough. Whilst it might be tempting to look at others and feel like they have their act together in a way that we don’t, remember that we only ever see someone else’s highlights reel and not what goes on behind the scenes. Remember: they might be looking at what you achieve with admiration!
  7. Manage upwards: one of the positives of the pandemic has been to highlight how juggling work and home can be tough regardless of who you are. It affected people across the working hierarchy with CEOs just as likely to be interrupted by children and the family pets. So now is the best time to communicate with your employer about any challenges you’re facing, adjustments you might want to make to your work or working hours. Go to them with a number of solutions/options so that you make it as easy as possible to gain their agreement, rather than just presenting them with your problem.

Redefining SELFISH: No guilt, no regrets is out on ebook on 1st July 2021, paperback out later in the year, £4.99 available online at all ebook retailers and www.carolynhobdey.com

Carolyn Hobdey is the author of ‘All The Twats I Met Along The Way’ and founder of the Redefining SELFISH community. She lived a life of shame and blame so is now passionate about pioneering new ways of thinking to ensure we live without guilt and regrets. As CEO of MayDey Ltd, Carolyn is a regular speaker and media commentator on issues of toxic relationships, self-esteem, women’s health (including the menopause), selfishness, narcissism and many other imperative, topical women’s issues.

With over 20 years spent as an award-winning Human Resources professional in some of the world’s largest employers, Carolyn earned a seat at the boardroom table leading internationally recognisable brands. En route, she gained a Masters in Lean Operations at Cardiff University where she was the first HR specialist to undertake the course and became the winner of the inaugural Sir Julian Hodge Prize for Logistics, Operations & Manufacturing.

Carolyn lives in Harrogate and enjoys boxing, dancing and socialising with friends.

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