How Working Parents Can Prioritise Their Time and Mental Health
Taking care of a child is a full-time job all on its own. But many parents also have a career they’re actively growing. Account for their personal passions and responsibility for their health and wellness, and there’s not nearly enough time to do it all.
Although achieving a work-life balance requires commitment and strategic time management, it’s crucial for parents to take on the challenge to ensure the most important parts of themselves and their lives are well taken care of.
Here’s how you can ensure your mental health, family, and career get the time and attention they deserve.
Safeguard Your Mental Health
As a parent, there’s no way around your responsibilities. You’ve got a lot to do, and it can be incredibly taxing on your mind.
This is because all you must do can incite stress and overwhelm you. Also, work, in particular, can be a source of chronic stress that leads to burnout and brings on mental health challenges like anxiety. You must make time for mental health care daily to ensure your professional life doesn’t negatively impact your parenting ability and work.
Learn stress coping mechanisms you can use whenever stress arises, like intentional breathing techniques. Scheduling activities throughout the week and month specifically for your mental health is also essential.
For example, if your faith or religion keeps you mentally grounded, attend church every Sunday. If working out helps your mental health, go to the gym or do another physical activity twice a week.
Practising simple self-care is another good idea for nurturing your mental health. Self-care is anything that helps your mental, physical, and emotional health. Although an extensive vacation is a great self-care activity, there are much simpler self-care activities you can incorporate into your day, including:
- Eating a nutritious meal;
- Meditating for five minutes;
- Going on a walk with your dog;
- Listening to an empowering podcast;
- Having a meaningful conversation with a friend or family member.
Safeguard your mental health to be the best parent, partner, and worker you can be.
Prioritise Family Time
Spending time with family often gets put on the back burner for working parents. This happens for many reasons, but some of the most common are:
- The job requires long or odd hours;
- Working parents are tired and too burnt out to engage with family;
- Employees are going to school and taking on other projects while working;
- Single-parent households require the parent to work as much as possible to make ends meet.
Spending time with your children and partner is incredibly important regardless of your situation. Establishing deep bonds with each can change the trajectory of their lives for the better. Also, being around your family can boost your mood and help you better navigate stress.
Also, maximise the little pockets of time you have with your family. For instance, if you only have a few minutes to play with your toddler before you head out to work, sensory play activities like playing with marshmallows or shredded paper or drawing with crayons will help you maximise the short time you have to engage. Even just a few minutes of this playtime allows your child to develop the language and emotional skills they will need later in life.
Continuously Advance Your Career with Boundaries
As important as family, mental health, and wellness are, so is advancing your career. Achieving career goals and working to provide a comfortable life for your family is just as critical for creating a meaningful life as the above are.
But again, you’ve got to make time for this. Advancing your career as a single parent requires extensive planning, especially as you will need to arrange for childcare assistance and may need emotional or financial support from your friends and community. To start your new career, you must first identify your career goals and assess your current work situation to see what’s missing.
Next, determine your timeline for career advancement and what’s necessary to achieve the next step. If school is required, take your time choosing the best degree program. After that, pool all your resources to ensure the experience is seamless.
That being said, you don’t want to advance your career at the expense of your personal well-being and your family. When making your career goals, place concrete boundaries with your work life so it doesn’t entreat upon your personal. For example, you can have a definitive clock-in and clock-out time, so you’re not working late into the night.
Knowing When to Put Yourself First
As a working parent, it may feel like everyone — your boss, kids, or spouse — wants something from you. If you’re a people pleaser, constantly allocating your time for everyone in your life but yourself will surely lead to burnout. Instead, you must make time for yourself.
It can be hard to know when to choose yourself over others. Some may find it impossible. However, the best tactic is to allocate time for yourself and your needs a little each day. This could be waking up early to work out, meditating, or journaling. When you prioritize yourself at the start of each day, you may find you can meet your daily demands better as well.
Working parents can’t get all they need to get done and advance their careers without managing their time effectively. Nurturing your mental health and spending time with family like you want to is impossible without proper time management. Try the tips above to ensure you maximize your time and prioritise your holistic health and family while maintaining a thriving career.