How to Make Conscious Parenting and Professional Choices
Is it possible to fulfil yourself professionally and personally? Can we really have it all? According to Joy Marchese, parenting expert, Founder of Positive Discipline UK, and author of Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent, the answer is yes, just not always at the same time.
“Pursuing personal and professional goals doesn’t have to mean trade-offs. They can be mutually beneficial and provide a positive way of living. However, accepting that, at times, one area of life will have to make way for another is realistic as we search for balance over time.”
Achieving successful work-life integration requires understanding what you truly want to achieve professionally. However, it’s also important to consider whether your work offers you the flexibility to not only spend quality time with your family but also do other things you personally enjoy.
Ask yourself: “Is work providing me with what I need, or do I feel stuck in an under-stimulating position in order to make room for other competing priorities from my partner and/or family?” Since half of your waking life is spent on the job (if you work full-time), it is critical that you find fulfilment in what you do.
If you want to be successful with your family, it will require a firm commitment to protect family time. Without this commitment, the urgent demands from work and the incessant beckoning of household tasks will steal precious relationship-building time.
Equally, to be successful and content at work you need to protect that time too and not feel guilty about it. Often all that is required is a shift in mindset and a little bit of planning. Here are a few tips which can help in the “home-work”:
1. Celebrate mistakes as wonderful opportunities for growth. One of the fundamental cornerstones of Positive Discipline is to value mistakes as opportunities to learn. Pioneering this policy in your everyday life will help you to relax those exacting standards you hold for yourself (as well as your children, partner, and colleagues), and help you become a little more flexible and forgiving at home and at work.
2. Try not to multitask during family time. Check in with your focus, where is your mind? If you’re spending time with your child but your mind is elsewhere, chances are he or she will feel it and might act out. Children want to hear (with your words and actions) the messages “You are important to me and your needs count.” Make a commitment that during family time you are present with your family and during work time you are present with your work.
3. Schedule special time. Kids aren’t nearly as materialistic as we tend to think. They’ll take quality time and genuine signs of affection any day over “bad conscious” presents from guilty-feeling parents. Begin to take your children (and your partner) on dates that you plan ahead together. Don’t be afraid to say no when a colleague asks you to work late or do extra work. You can say, “I’m sorry, I already have a very important meeting scheduled.”
4. Shared responsibility through jobs and chores. Harmony and respect are maintained when family responsibilities are discussed and shared together. At a family meeting, make a list of all jobs and chores that need doing. Find a way to creatively rotate who does what. This helps teach valuable life skills around home management and teamwork. Regularly reevaluate progress at family meetings.
5. Use the digital world to your advantage. Skype or FaceTime when you’re travelling, and send cute texts and emojis to your kids once they’re old enough to have phones. Let them know in advance when you’re out of reach (in a meeting, for example) so they don’t worry if they can’t get hold of you.
6. It is not just parents who are busy—children are too! Your mind will be more at ease if you have good communication around plans and schedules as a family. The key is to have fun! Create a clearly visible chart for everyone’s schedules, and then sit down as a family to discuss what everyone’s priorities are and figure our together how to make it work in a balanced way.
Making flexibility happen with your work requires discipline and letting go of perfection. It often requires setting boundaries around family time and work time, and finding creative ways of delivering even if you can’t physically be at work all the time. However, when you focus on all the benefits a flexible work situation brings to your family in terms of income, personal fulfilment, and security, it will feel easier to do.
You are, after all, the leader in your own life!
Joy is a parenting expert, mum of one and founder of Positive Discipline UK, author of Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent and Co-Fonder of iGROWco, You can follow Joy, and her businesses iGROWco and Positive Discipline UK on Instagram for more parenting information and to buy her book.