Balancing having children with your career

Having children and a career

How will having children impact your career?

Having children and a careerWhen we think about the challenges of balancing a busy career with having children, it’s probably still the image of a working mom that comes to mind first. However, with more and more men wanting to be more involved in their children’s lives, as well as more options becoming available for same-sex couples, that stereotype is shifting.

In addition, financial circumstances frequently mean that both parents simply have to work to pay the bills. That makes the challenge of carving out quality time with the kids very real, for moms and modern dads alike. We look at some tips for finding the balance, whether you’re still planning your family or already have kids.

Parental leave – investigate your rights and prospects

If you haven’t already started your family and are in the job market, exploring possibilities at companies which have better maternity and paternity policies is definitely an option. Many tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Etsy provide up to six months of paid parental leave for both parents – with Netflix outdoing them all by offering a full year, including birth and adoptive parents of any gender.

And while you might not be able to land a job with a tech giant, many smaller businesses in various industries are  becoming open to the idea of more progressive parental leave. Definitely worth investigating if you’re not planning on having kids for a few years still.

Explore your options around more flexible working hours

If you’re happy at your current job, there may still be the possibility of negotiating more flexible working hours, or working from home some or all of the time. A good way to broach the subject with your employer is to have some points outlined ahead of time. Emphasise what’s in it for them, and why the change will be good for your productivity and therefore their profits. Negotiating a trial period to see how it goes is another way to avoid rocking the boat too much.

If you’ve stepped away from full-time work to raise a baby, seeking a part time job can help. This allows you to keep moving forward in your career while still giving you time with your child.

Build up relationships with other parents in your neighborhood

Aside from the emotional support fellow parents can offer, having these connections can work in everyone’s favour practically. A lift club for the school run or shared activities can take an enormous amount of stress off of you. Becoming friends with your child’s friends’ parents means more hands on deck – allowing more time and energy to devote to doing fun things with your kids, as well as offering a source of advice and support.

Focus on your health

Between a demanding career and your responsibilities as a parent, it’s all too easy to put your own health on the backburner. And while we all know this is a mistake, most of us fall into it at some point. By making a healthy lifestyle part of what you do together as a family, however, you can turn this time into a learning experience for the kids, as well as getting some bonding done. If your kids are old enough, taking up something like hiking can be a great way to spend quality time together, instil a love of nature, and improve your collective fitness. Cooking healthy meals together is another good habit to get into.

Growing your family

So, you’ve managed to find that balance between work and family life with your first child. How do you know if you’re ready for the next bundle of joy? While there are multiple factors to consider, the fact you’re getting older can put a certain amount of pressure on both parents. One way to remove some of the guesswork is to schedule a consultation or screening at a fertility services clinic. Being able to talk to a professional about what options you have can make this decision a lot easier.

Don’t lose sight of your career goals

Just because you’ve started a family doesn’t mean you should put your professional ambitions on hold or abandon them. Aside from the possibility you end up feeling less fulfilled in life (especially after your kids are grown and have left the nest), there’s a growing body of evidence that being overly involved in your kids’ lives is not actually good for them either.

What’s most important is always quality over quantity. Truly being present with your kids when you do have the time available.

If they know you’ll be there for them, there’s no reason you can’t also enjoy a meaningful career.

Cat Robinson

About Cat Robinson

I'm a freelance writer lucky enough to be living on the beautiful KwaZulu Natal coast of South Africa. Instilled with a love of language from an early age, I enjoy bending my pen to different subjects, researching new topics and, hopefully, giving a touch of flair to every piece I write! I am passionate about educating my readers through entertaining content that makes complex issues easier to understand - and have written on topics as diverse as sustainability and engineering, to travel and nutrition.