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The 10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

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The 10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

I sometimes find myself envious of the stay-at-home moms and dads who stroll up to the bus stop with a steaming mug of coffee in their loungewear or yoga pants.  Once their kids step onto the bus, they have what I often perceive to be an entire day of freedom laid out in front of them to finish laundry, work out, run errands, or maybe just take a nap. Must be nice, huh?

Of course, I know stay-at-home parents don’t have it easy at all, and that “fantasy” of mine is truly that – an illusion resulting from my jealous misconceptions – but I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes fall into the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” pit. 

The 10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

When I’m feeling jealous, discouraged, or inadequate, I think about the reasons I’m a working parent and why it works best for me and my family.  If you’re like me (or just human for that matter), at some point you struggle with what-ifs about the choices you’ve made and often wish you had the life of someone else.  The 10 best things about being a working parent might help you refocus and put things into proper perspective. I know every parent, whether working in an office or taking care of the kids at home, could use reminders that they are not alone in the world!  

And in that same vein, I find it necessary to write this disclaimer:  The list below in no way is meant to give the impression that working parents are better than those that stay at home.  This list is meant to highlight the reasons that working parents should give themselves a break and focus on gratitude instead of envy.

  • Adult Interaction 

It goes without saying that spending the day with your kids can be wonderful.  A rainy Saturday afternoon spent baking cookies, coloring, etc. is a great way to get to know your kids and spend some quality time cuddling. Extend that rainy day to a rainy week, however, and you may start to crave some adult interaction (and a straight jacket or two).  

When you are a working parent, you frequently get the adult interaction you crave. Psychologists recommend that stay-at-home parents get involved with other adults in their situation to ensure that they get enough adult conversation to feel connected to the outside world.  As a working parent, you have that connection with your peers every day.   

It is fabulous to spend the day with your kids, but at some point, every mom or dad needs to connect with another like-minded person on a more intellectual level.

  • Income

The cost of daycare can be overwhelming (sending twins to day care is the equivalent of an extra mortgage payment!), so many people believe that staying home with the kids versus paying for child care generally equals out when it comes to finances.  And it often does! 

Depending on your profession and your personal circumstances, your salary may generate more income than you will save in child care costs (like it does in my situation).  In addition to your salary, you need to factor in health care, retirement benefits, and other employment perks (like flextime or gym memberships, which are becoming increasingly popular).  Having a steady income is a luxury many families don’t have when mom or dad stays at home. 

  • Staying in the Game 

The general economy is slowly improving, but for awhile, unemployment was at an all-time high and the job market was extremely competitive.  Unfortunately, especially for women, re-entering the workforce after a period of unemployment made it even more difficult to land a job. 

While ideally every parent could jump back into the workforce after taking time to raise children if they chose to take time away, it doesn’t necessarily work that way.  As a working parent, you keep your foot in the door and your resume active to better take advantage of future opportunities.  

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

  • Setting an Example

Children who grow up with working parents quickly adapt by learning responsibility, self-sufficiency, time management, and the value of hard work.  That is not the only way for children to learn those lessons, and stay-at-home parents are equally focused on instilling strong character traits in their children; it just so happens to put you on the fast track when you work outside the home. 

Of course your children ARE the center of your existence, but you also crave a life outside of them and necessity may dictate it if you need to work to help support your family financially.  You were a unique person with personal interests before they were born, and it can be difficult to maintain that when your role as parent is in center focus.  Working outside the home can set an important example that hard work pays off, you need to earn your way to success and survival, and that you have priorities and interests that aren’t always all about them.

  • Mental Stimulation

Taking care of children is hard work, but it’s not always mentally stimulating.  Stay-at-home parents and working parents alike need to take a break and do something that turns on that extra brain power, like read the news or a book without pictures.  Working parents have more opportunity to do this when they’re in the outside world, meeting the challenges of a career and leading a professionally and mentally adventurous life outside of the home every single day.  

While the mental stimulation of a career can also be the root of exhaustion, stress and more than a little chaos as a working parent, it’s also one of our greatest benefits when we step outside the home each morning.

  • Socialization for your Kids 

Your children may be in school full-time, go to a daycare, or you may be one of the lucky ones that sends them to grandma and grandpa’s house.  Whatever your situation, your kids can benefit from learning to adapt to time away from the home when there are working parents in the mix.  This may mean getting along with other kids at a daycare or school, or adjusting to a different style of care with a family member or home daycare provider. It fosters trust and can diminish separation anxiety, as your children develop a routine understanding that “Mommy and Daddy go to work, but Mommy and Daddy always come back.”

Developing the skills to interact in new situations, with new people of varying personalities, is an important skill for your child to develop, and life as a working family can help cultivate that confidence.

  • Special Occasions 

As a working parent, one of my favorite things to do is take time to volunteer at school or attend a holiday party.  Because I’m not always able to do these things, when I am able to participate, my kids are absolutely over the moon with excitement.  There is something extra special about being a working parent at school on an impromptu day off, and I like that I can make the time with my kids seem like a special occasion and surprise treat. As a working parent, quality not quantity is most often the name of the game, purely by default.

Stay-at-home parents of course trigger the same happiness and joy when they attend school functions with their children. It’s always a big win for any child to see that special face round the corner on their way to the classroom. And admittedly, I’m often envious that they get those special moments more frequently than I might.

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

  • Sense of Accomplishment

As I mentioned above, it is important to have a sense of identity outside of your children.  This extends to accomplishing goals outside of potty training or learning milestones. While equally important, they don’t always feel as satisfying when you cross the finish line (although I certainly did my best end-zone victory dance when we finally got potty training down!).  

When you complete a complex project at work, earn a raise or a promotion, or simply contribute as a valued employee with creative ideas, you’re awarded a deep sense of mental accomplishment in yourself that doesn’t necessarily depend on your parenting skills. Of course, stay-at-home parents are incredibly accomplished and break records every day too. We’re all winners! 

  • Prioritization 

Working parents spend their few free hours chauffeuring kids to and from school, piano lessons, soccer practice, make school lunches, plan birthday parties, etc. on top of a busy workload, deadlines and a full day at the office/store.  Working parents often need to become master planners, and become adept at organizing and prioritizing. Survival of the fittest rings true, with working parents channeling every resource to keep energy and focus front and center. The challenges working parents face logistically often cultivates a deeply rooted talent for accomplishing a lot with very little. 

  • Perspective

Every day I talk to working parents like me and stay-at-home parents in my community, and I always learn something new.  I’m thankful that my job allows me to see both sides of the coin of parenting, and I have a greater appreciation for the time I do spend with my children. 

Being a parent is never easy.  Focus on the best things about being a working parent and remember that every parent, whether the stay-at-home mom in yoga pants or the corporate executive dropping her son off at daycare, is doing their best. We’re all parents. That is our bond. Our personal journeys are our own. For me, working outside the home is a necessity, mentally and financially. But that doesn’t make me any better, any smarter or any more capable that a parent who chooses to stay at home. Remember, we’re all in this together! 

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables

    October 30, 2015 at 7:45 am

    This is a great perspective! My husband and I don’t have kids yet but we’ve talked a lot about the pros and cons on both sides!

    • Katy Blevins

      February 4, 2016 at 7:14 am

      There are definite pros and cons to both sides. The great news is that we can give ourselves permission to do what we feel is best for us and our family. There’s no one right way and everyone is free to choose the path that best fits their version of a successful life. I hope we continue to strive to drop judgements and assumptions (and guilt!) and celebrate everyone’s individual path as their own and practice withholding our personal opinions as to what is right or wrong. Know what I mean?

  2. Debbie

    November 3, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for this list! Some days I get down about being a working mom too. I have to say the adult interaction is great. Also, I love that my son gets good social interactions during the day. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Katy Blevins

      February 4, 2016 at 7:10 am

      You are so welcome!! We all need that little reminder once in awhile to focus on the great things about the season of life we are in. It’s hard not to always be looking for the next best thing, at the grass on the other side of the fence. Staying present and joyful, embracing the awesomeness of our unique circumstances is certainly a lot more fun than wallowing about the tough stuff. We’re all a work in progress!

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Schedule One-On-One Time With Your Child

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Now that I am almost 2 years into living on my own (holy cow?! for real?!), it occurred to me that my twins were never, ever, getting any one-on-one time with me. When I was married, solo time wasn’t especially frequent, but I did make an effort to split them up to make sure they got to go on an errand with Mom or run to the hardware store with Dad every now and again. Now that it’s just me, it’s always the three of us, together wherever we go, all day, every day.

As a mother of multiples, I know full well that individual time with a parent is hugely important to their emotional wellness. They are intrinsically born into a life of sharing and existing in the presence of their siblings. From the moment of conception, they are two.

They are taught early on to be patient and wait their turn purely out of necessity and routine. Decision-making is always a team effort and line leader/who goes first almost always sparks opportunities for frustration. One-on-one time allows them much needed independence, a chance to share and enjoy their individual interests, and develop their own voice.

So I instated Mommy Date Night. Here’s how I did (do) it.

  • Connected with their favorite babysitter. I knew I had to bring in the “big dogs” if I was going to convince one of them to stay behind without a massive meltdown, so I reached out to their very favorite babysitter. I knew she would understand the challenge and would go above and beyond to make sure the one left behind was just as excited to have one-on-one time with her. We set a recurring night and a set price to help my budget. She started to gather ideas for fun projects that would captivate them quickly.
  • Researched local free and/or family-friendly low cost options. We all know life as a single mom does not come with an endless supply of moolah, so I wanted to keep our evenings out as low cost as possible, especially since child care was already involved. I checked with friends and hopped onto city websites to see what was out there. Here are a few ideas I stumbled upon:
    • (The Obvious) Playgrounds
    • Beach/Nature Walks
    • Library
    • Pet Store
    • Pottery Painting (with free studio fee coupons)
    • Milkshakes or Ice Cream
    • Picnics
    • Museums
  • Let them take the lead and make the decisions. This is by far their favorite part. I usually have three available options in hand. I let them select our final destination. They also get to choose every song we listen to in the car. When we take a walk, they pick the direction. When we go to the library, they pick the books. It’s their time, their way. They feel like little princes.
  • Ask lots of questions. I have learned more about my sons in the past 4 weeks of doing our Mommy Dates than I have in the past year. When we’re out and about, we talk. A lot. I’ve actually noticed they chitter chatter much more when it’s just the two of us. They have stuff to say! I ask about their favorite colors, favorite animals, what they want to be when they grow up, what they love most about their family…anything to spark a conversation. We’ve talked about fears, dreams and monsters. They are more grateful and hold my hand tighter and cuddle closer.

I know I originally began these Mommy Dates for them. They needed that one-on-one time desperately. I’m realizing now that I needed it too. Monday nights have become the highlight of my week. Stress immediately dissipates and I bask in the amazingness of my kids. I am being reminded of those unbelievable, most tender moments of being a parent, watching your children explore the world. It is the perfect therapy for the busy working mom.

There is nothing better than hearing your child say “Mommy, you know what? It’s Monday! That means it’s Mommy Date Day. And it’s my turn!” or “Mommy, I love this day. I love my time with you. Thank you, Mommy.”

 

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Purposeful Parenting

The Corporate Captive: An Update on My Transition to Work At Home Life

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I’m about six months into my transition from full time corporate work to a new, full time work at home routine. I’ve been busily focusing my energies on Modern Femme™ Movement and our upcoming May convention (join us!), also expanding my services with The Hampton Roads Creative, which will soon transition to a special new project that I’ll share with you very soon!

I’d love to tell you that this transition has been an easy one and that I’ve got a perfect routine now, am the epitome of self-care and wellness, but…well, that would be a lie. Truth be told, I’ve been facing some pretty big demons during this season of my life. I didn’t even recognize them at first, until the tell tale signs of stress and anxiety reared their ugly heads.

I never realized how much ten years of corporate work impacted how my brain approaches the work day. I never realized how much I intrinsically measured my worth by how many hours I was working each day. Suddenly, with this new found freedom to set my own schedule, I encountered guilt and an unfair expectation that I still needed to fill the hours of 8AM – 5PM with full time work.

Why did I feel guilty? I think there was (is) a part of me that feels like I need to prove or legitimize my decision to leave the steady paycheck of the corporate world. As a single mom, that leap of faith put not just my finances at risk, but the lives of my children. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, and I see now that I’m wearing the guilt of that decision unjustly. I rationalized my transition to full time entrepreneurship by acknowledging that I had way too much work to do and needed those hours to focus my energies on my business. That part was true…but not quite as literally as I began to take it. Suddenly, if I did not work every second of 8AM – 5PM, I felt like I was slacking off, not working hard enough, and that my departure from my corporate job was no longer justified because I now had “free time.” Free time to do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, go to the gym, run errands. Somehow those didn’t qualify as worthy work-related tasks.

I found myself in the same cycle I was in as a corporate captive. The alarm would go off extra early, I’d rush the kids to daycare, work like crazy until 5:15PM, race to get them from daycare and then come home with grumpy kids to plan a later dinner and a soon-to-follow bedtime. Then back to the grind, just for extra measure, to prove I was busy. Prove to whom? Myself?

It wasn’t until Somer (and a few other trusted members of my Modern Femme™ tribe) called me out on my captivity that I realized I wasn’t being fair to myself (or to my kids or boyfriend). I needed to hear that self-care is part of my job as a mom and that grocery shopping, resting, going to the gym, running errands, cleaning, prepping for dinner, laundry…those were all worthy tasks I was completing during the day so that I had more time with my kids at night and on the weekends. Wasn’t that why I made the leap to work from home full time? To remove the burden of the corporate schedule, pressure to perform and anxious accessibility that never let me “turn off” and focus on my family? Wasn’t that decision a life-changing move? And yet, here I was…in the same cycle as I was before. Just sitting in my home office instead of a business one.

That realization prompted me to make some pretty hefty changes. I’d be lying if I said I have this all figured out now and life’s a breeze. Nope. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around this and shed the guilty conscious. But I’m getting better.

I now have a no phone, computer, social media rule after 5PM and on weekends. NONE. Nada. Off. Cold turkey. Let me tell you – that’s not easy. But once you do it, it’s incredibly liberating. You know when I felt true (deserved!) guilt? When I told my kids I was shutting off my phones and they looked at me with shock and excitement that they had me all to themselves. Oh what love and special moments I had been missing out on! They were missing me still! I did not make the decision to dive into my business full time so that my family could continue to struggle for quality time. No. I made that decision so that I could take my life back and freely pour myself into my kids and my passions.

If I’ve learned anything from this transition, it’s to be grateful for the community of women I have had the opportunity to build as my support system in all of these big life changes. Placing those women in a trusted position of accountability has enabled me to recognize errors in judgement and when I’m veering off course. Their gentle nudges back towards that which is most important to me, my family, have been truly invaluable. I’m still a work in progress. But I’m free. And I’m surrounded by people that love me, celebrate my decision to follow my heart and my dreams, and continue to challenge me to hold true to why I made that first leap of faith.

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Purposeful Parenting

Year-End Money Tips for Working Moms and Female Entrepreneurs

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Money Tips for Working Moms

I don’t know about you but the end of the year brings two thoughts…well, three thoughts for me. One, CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two, fresh start on January 1st! And three, holy cow, what’s my money situation? Taxes are coming.

A big, big thank you to Kristen Robinson, SVP of Women and Young Investors at Fidelity Investments for taking the time to develop these year-end money tips for working moms and female entrepreneurs!

Money Tips for Working Moms

2 Tips for Female Business Owners / Entrepreneurs:

Keep Your Future in Mind with the Right Retirement Account for Your Needs

  • Look into the different plans available to business owners, such as a 401(k) for Small Business, a self-employed 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA.  You may need to appoint a plan administrator- someone who takes care of administrative responsibilities and ensures the plan is operating according to the Plan Document.  Learn more about these different types of accounts here.  
  • Contribute to your account. The deadline for depositing employer profit-sharing contributions for the current calendar year is generally the business’ tax-filing deadline, plus extensions (for unincorporated businesses, this date is usually April 15 of the following year, plus any extensions).

Business Succession

  • If you own a business, have you considered how best to plan for the future?  If you plan to keep it in the family, consider creating a structure that makes it easier to transfer the business’s assets to other family members, such as a family limited partnership or a family limited liability company.
  • There are many options; your attorney or tax adviser can help you select one that is appropriate for you in light of your specific situation.

4 Tips for Single Moms:

Get Involved in Your Family’s Finances

  • It’s important to have a full picture of the family financial situation. At minimum, know what accounts you have and with whom. That includes banks and investing accounts, life insurance, mortgages, and loans. Having a handle on this information is an important foundation as you plan for the future, and can bring greater peace of mind.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am still getting a grip on my finances after the divorce. I realize now how little I knew before and how problematic that can be.)

Money Tips for Working Moms

Save for Retirement

    • Retirement is not a destination but a journey, and it’s never too early – or too late – to start putting away savings for the future.  Along the way, there are myriad opportunities to get off the path—and back on it.  And at virtually any turn in the road, there are possibilities to speed up your progress.
      • Make it a goal to save 15% or more of your income each year. If that’s not reachable today, make sure to make it a priority to carve out what you can. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.
      • Aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay go toward your “must-have” expenses.

Try to Save Three to Six Months of Essential Expenses in an Emergency Fund.

Look for Growth Potential from your Investments

  • Knowing your financial personality can help you determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term investments that match how comfortable you are with risk, and have the growth potential to meet your life’s needs, be that when you want to retire or when you want to send kids to college.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, read up online, or reach out to a professional.  There’s never a fee to come into Fidelity to talk to a financial planner, but we do recommend you reevaluate twice a year. Just like you take care of your physical health by visiting the doctor and dentist, think of this as taking care of your financial health, which is vitally important as well.

Protect your Legacy

  • In order to ensure that what you’ve accumulated is distributed to your children, family and causes you care about most, it is important to name beneficiaries and create a will and health care proxy. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about the ‘what it’s,’ but it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Do you really want someone else making these decisions for you?

 

 

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