Labor Day is over. You can start to feel a slight nip in the breeze. People are closing up their pools, putting away their lawn furniture and openly talking about plans for Thanksgiving.
And school’s back in session – a blessing and a curse to working parents. A blessing because it will no longer be your responsibility to keep your kids occupied during the day. No more camps. No more arranging playdates. No more self-recrimination because you let them watch six straight hours of YouTube just so you could get some work done.
But a curse because the return to school means the return of homework. It means the return of after-school activities. It means the return of PTA meetings, band concerts and sports games and practices. Getting home from work just means starting your second job … and we don’t mean driving for Uber (though it can feel like that sometimes).
Here are three tips for balancing your new back-to-school responsibilities as a working parent:
Make a Schedule
At work, you’re the model of efficiency. Each moment of your day is meticulously planned out. Every activity properly prioritized.
Once you’re out the office doors though, it’s a free-for-all. Timmy is late to soccer and Sally’s not ready for her piano lesson. You forget it’s your day to carpool. Dinner will have to be another precooked chicken you grab from grocery store’s prepared food section.
The difference? At work, you take time to plan and prepare. At home, you’re just trying to wing it.
Don’t drain the joy out of your outside-of-work life by turning it into a drudge of lock-step efficiency. But apply some of the principles you use at work to organize your parenting responsibilities. You’ll find you’ll have more time for both home and the office. Family time will run smoother, and because of that, you’ll fell less stress and be able to enjoy it more.
Find Family Focal Points
The return to school can mean everyone goes their separate ways. You and your significant other have work to finish, or you’re doing chores and getting stuff done around the house. The kids disappear in their rooms to do homework or Facetime with friends.
But don’t let everyone scatter too much. Carve out some time for the family to get together (preferably with no devices). Family dinners are good. Or outings for mini-golf or laser tag. Anything where you can spend a few hours together, away from both school and work.
Time For You
You give (at least) eight hours to the office. And the rest of the time to your family. Where are you in all this?
Just like vacation days at work are important to reset and recharge, taking time for yourself will make you a better parent. You don’t want to burn out or become a grump. You don’t need a week of self-care in Fiji (though, if you have the means…). Instead, schedule a half hour or an hour of time each day just for you. Read a book. Watch a show that only you like. Call (actually call, not just text) an old friend.
In the end, work life and home life will go smoother and be better.
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