What are some of the pro's and con's of being a working parent?
1) You aren’t isolated
2) You can provide more for your child
3) Your life is more balanced
4) Time spent with your child is precious
1) You can miss out - milestones, school performances, awards, special events etc both at home and work
2) Tired is an understatement - enough said there!
3) Your child doesn’t want you to go
4) You can’t measure up (trying to be an equally good employee and parent at the same time and keeping up with those individuals just doing one of those jobs and not both at the same time!)
Source - news24.com
I love this little synopsis from news24.com. It really does speak to some of the key benefits and pain-points we see in the ‘working parent’ niche, perhaps even more so following the COVID-19 scenario.
Being a working parent myself, I could add at least another 10 points in each section here, but instead, I want to talk about how with such a tall order, addressing each of those issues or ‘cons’ in turn is a monumental challenge. So what do we do? How do we keep the ‘pro’s top of mind and not get swallowed up by the con’s?
Well firstly we could think of all of the ways that we could start to address them individually, such as
maybe ask our workplace for flexible work hours, join the gym to give us more energy and perk us up, as well as helping to keep the body fat and toxicity under control. Maybe we could spend some money on some kind of tracker or app for nutrition and exercise and see if that helps address some of the concerns. We could do a meditation course, so that we can be more mindful around our kids and learn how to interact with our children better to give them more resilience when we are away. We could do a parenting course, to improve the skills we already have to make us feel like a better parent to our children when we are available to them. Or perhaps up-skill at work, so that we can be seen as more ‘credible’, despite being a mum of four kids. Maybe this will put us in contention with 20 year old Julia in finance who just made it to VP with no kids at home, a penthouse suite in the city and a hubby on a 3 figure salary. Maybe right? But how has that been working? With all these amazing solutions, why is the rate of burnout in humans higher than it’s ever been?
Well these suggested solutions are all ‘fixes’ of one kind or another right? Sort of like a bandaid, they provide some relief to one or two of the pain points and make you feel at least some of the way to improving your situation and thats a good thing. No doubt. But sometimes all these ‘fixes’ do is actually ‘add’ more stress to our already stressed out lives. So how is that?
Ok scenario 1: Now you have joined the gym and you feel good. You feel like you are moving and at least you are finally accountable for your fitness, but you have been there a few months now and Sandra at the gym you just joined is smashing her PB on deadlift and posting her perfectly honed bod on instagram. Everyone in the gym is focused on Sandra, giving her the glory and high five’s all around. She is nailing her nutrition and you suddenly feel despite your best efforts, thats unattainable unless you have more time to commit to it. She clearly doesn’t have kids or a full time job.
Every direction you turn to improve your current state has a demand for you to be ‘an expert’ in that domain, otherwise you are somehow less than. And since you are a person who likes to aim higher, it's normal for you to want to perform well in more than one area of your life.
So another layer of stress has been added and in the end you quit or become inconsistent because its not worth it and on top of that its taking you away from the kids for that 1 hour. And now you can add a nice layer of guilt on top of it because you not only failed at improving your fitness but you now have gone backwards. And thats just one area of your life! It’s a theme we see constantly over and over again. In the end, we don’t even try new things because unless you can keep up with the experts in that area, what’s the point? You will end up regretting you even bothered right? Mediocrity because your new normal and you just accept it, which ultimately is a slow burn on your emotional energy.
So what do we do? How can we stop this ongoing hamster wheel mentality repeating itself over and over with the hope that one day when we retire and our kids are grown up and out of the house (which is 63 yo according to the ABS) we will finally have the time and energy we need to fulfil all of our dreams. An interesting prospect.
There is another way, however and the cool thing is that we also know from the science and research, that it works!
In our business, we like to look at all of these pain-points from a different perspective and with a different focus, to see if we can’t address all of them with a couple of simple shifts in knowledge, action and focus.
What ultimately sits underneath the concerns, stressors and struggles of working parents is a feeling of general fatigue and low performance, in whatever form that takes. Because regardless of the differences in perception in the workplace, gender, age, time at home with your children, friends and family dynamics, the primary issue is always the same - fatigue.
When you are running on an empty tank, none of those individual concerns and pain points can be properly addressed - literally none. So is it possible then, that the solution, to improving the situation for working parents, is to begin to establish some kind of energy status quo, fuel in not just one component, but in ALL areas of life?