Firstly, I salute parents who try their best to meet this very objective. Many parents are searching for the “perfect” balance between family life and work. We all know too well that raising a family while providing for one requires a considerable amount of dedication, time and effort. There is the hustle and bustle that comes with getting the family up and out the front door in the mornings. On route, you try to dodge the traffic on the school runs, you dash to the office, then there is the boss off-loading more work, more deadlines, there are meetings. You get home to be faced with cooking dinner, chores, homework, the kids bath times and trying to spend some quality time with the family at the end of the day and a little downtime for yourself (if you are lucky), it’s no wonder that many of us are soon start to feel deflated, overwhelmed and exhausted. We are often left with feelings of guilt and or inadequacies for not feeling able to spend as much time as we would like completing tasks to the best of our abilities on the job due to tiredness and fatigue, or in the home and with our loved ones, sound familiar?
On many mornings, my daughters often approach me and ask if I am going to work. When my response is ‘Yes', one of my daughters usually makes no bones about telling me that I am spending too much time at work and openly expresses her disappointment. This is one of the reasons we desire to strike a balance between our work and family life. As for my family, it is a challenge and I believe for many no doubt. As a Christian Woman, my priorities in life are God, my children, my husband and myself. Yes, I am equally important in the grand scheme of things, for if I do not take care of my own personal wellbeing, I will not be well positioned to attend to the needs of my family.
In these modern times, we are witnessing a world that is ever evolving. There is mounting pressure coming at us from all angles both as individuals and parents of future generations. We are almost being pushed beyond the limit where we will need to do even more and be more. In other words, we would need to morph into some sort of modern-day superhuman. The more we struggle to live up to the expectations of the external world and the pressures that stem from trying to strike that balance between being effective in the workplace; nurturing our relationships with our partners or spouse’s and being the best parents we can be for the sake of our children, the more we need to unplug and take a reality check every so often. This will afford you an opportunity to assess and evaluate our current status in terms of striking that balance compared to where we want to be. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Ultimately, we just need to figure out what is best for our families and follow a strategy that will help us best to do so.
I was born and raised in Uganda for 24 years and have now been living in the UK for the past 15 years and have constantly been comparing notes. On reflection, I have observed that there is a distinct difference between the two family systems. Family life in Uganda is much more relaxed and laid back as most families have help to do chores in the home and extended family members play an active part in raising the children, therefore all responsibilities are not left exclusively to the parents. The everyday person in Uganda may have less than that of someone in the UK, but in my opinion, the quality of life in Uganda is better and the food is organic. Parents have the freedom to parent more effectively and can really enjoy life and focus on what is best for their families, without feeling constantly as though there are never enough hours in the day to get all the things that need doing done, or worrying about whether their children are safe while they are at work. Most parents in the UK have the sole responsibility for raising their families (nuclear), while also doing their best to provide for them, maintain their homes and try to have a social life and it is most definitely a juggling act. They are constantly on the move, quite often feeling that they are neglectful of their children, as they are unable to spend as much quality time with them as they’d like, which can be quite soul destroying.
Here are my tips for juggling your work life and parenting.
Firstly, take a look at all the things that you have accomplished, been proud of and have done well and applaud yourself this. In areas of your life that you feel you have struggled with or in need improvement, refrain from beating yourself up about them. Up until now, you have been tried your best to keep a balance, you did not give up, you kept going, that in itself deserves to be commended.
• Find good childcare (paid if possible), namely Child-minders, Au-pairs, Nannies, Nanny shares, Mother’s help or a Babysitter.
• Find cheap childcare options such as Nanny Share, Mother’s help. I guess many of you are wondering if this even exists! Yes, it does.
• Stay connected to your children throughout the day. You can leave notes on your fridge as a reminder to your children that you love them.
• While you are at work you can video call your partner/spouse/children, let them know that you are thinking of them and missing them, but glad to be able to connect with them while you are away.
• Be sure to allocate family time each week to do the things you enjoy doing as a family, such as going to the park, praying together, visiting valued friends and extended family members, or having a fun movie night in at home.
• Each week plan to date night (or day) with your spouse (or partner if you have one). This will help to keep you both connected and less likely to become neglectful of one another. Take it in turns to come up with ideas when planning your next date. It is also healthy for your children to witness you taking a vested interest in nurturing your, happy and healthy union. Remember, you are (should be) the most positive influences in your children’s life. Children are generally happier and more grounded when they feel a sense of safety and security around them.
• You are important, your family depends on you. Be sure to have at least 8 hours sleep a night, exercise, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet and take time out to do the things you love.
• Don’t be afraid to approach your boss and ask for flexible working hours, if you are really struggling to balance things.
• Personally, I find sharing some responsibilities with my husband helps.
Work-life balance does exist. It does require sacrifice and you need to work on it to find what works for you. Make your happiness and wellbeing a priority.
Hi, I am Pamellah Mutenga, I believe that parenthood is a journey which must be enjoyed but it starts with happy parents. The passion to empower parents and help children stems from my experience as a mother; wife and a professional maternity nurse. Pamellah is the director and founder of Abundant Life Family Care.