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6 Habits of Successful Working Parents

6 Habits of Successful Working Parents

All parents work. But for those of us who work outside the home as well, it can be like working two or more full-time jobs. It’s easy to get overwhelmed…and no one wants to admit that they are barely hanging on. By putting some habits into place, though, you can get yourself on track and become successful. Here are six habits of successful working parents to get you started.

Have backup systems in place

Murphy said, “Anything that can go wrong, will.” That means the day of the big presentation, the kids are going to have the stomach flu. Or your car will break down when it’s your turn to drive for soccer practice. Or you’ll walk into the office not realizing that the baby spit up down your back.

Successful parents can’t plan for every possible contingency. But they can have backup systems in place. What does that mean?

  • Have back-up caregivers in place or the ability to work from home when the kids are sick. (Do not, under any circumstances, bring sick children to work. Not only will you distract your co-workers, but you could cause them to get sick as well.)
  • Set up the carpool rotation so there is an alternate ready to go, if necessary, each day.
  • Keep baby wipes stashed in your car, desk, and at home to handle spills and what not. Baby wipes remove everything–they can even get melted chocolate out of car seats.

Murphy was a rocket scientist (really!). He knew that redundancy and backup systems are essential to success. Follow his lead.

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Know what is on the calendar

Schedules can overwhelm us. Johnny has to be at karate right after school, but your spouse assumed you would be taking him, and now Johnny’s stuck at school. Or you make your way halfway across the city to pick up your 8-year-old, just to find out she has taken the bus home (yes, that happened to me).

One of the fastest ways to lose control is to be blind-sided. You can limit your risk by making sure you are on track every day. What does that mean?

  • Put school calendars into your calendar. Most school districts even have electronic calendars you can pull in. Check it every day for events.
  • Know who is taking whom where. Check with your partner or other drivers the day of the event to confirm.
  • Make sure your children know where they are supposed to be when, and who is taking them. And make sure your children know to speak up!

Keep on top of your calendar, and you will not be blind-sided often.

Focus on kids during family time

Go into any fast food restaurant, and you will see a family with the parents on their phones, while the kids eat or run in the play yard. Or you have probably seen the parent walking in the parking lot, talking on the phone, while his child is playing softball.

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Family time is time spent with family. It’s important for your kids to know that you pay attention to them in positive ways. What does this look like?

  • Put the phone down. Not checking Twitter or Facebook during dinner won’t kill you.
  • Don’t try to work during the game. Be fully present. See little Sally make her first base hit.
  • Make meaningful conversation with your kids. Your kids will know if you are half-listening or giving generic answers.

Family time should mean your focus is on your family. Don’t let other things get in the way of this quality time.

Know that balance is not rigid

We all know that sometimes work takes more. And sometimes (like with a sick child), family takes more. Don’t wear yourself out trying to make sure you spend equal amounts of time with both.

Balance doesn’t mean splitting the pie the same way every day. Balance means that you are flexible enough to know that sometimes work takes more, and sometimes your family takes more. What does this look like?

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  • During weeks you have big projects, let your family know you will be working longer.
  • During weeks when your workload is light, interact more with your family and knock those pesky things off your honey-do list.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Although balance is flexible, taking care of yourself is mandatory.

(If you are consistently working too much, here are a couple great articles to help: 8 Ways to Stop Working Long Hours and 10 Reasons You Should Stop Working Long Hours Today).

Balance isn’t about rigidity. Find the flow.

Let kids learn from their mistakes

You get a frantic call at the office from your daughter. She’s left her art project at home. Could you please bring it? You can hear the panic in her voice. At the same time, your boss is waiting for you to start a meeting.

As working-outside-the-home parents, it is easy to feel guilty and try to make our children’s paths smooth. But kids build resiliency when they learn from their mistakes. Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

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It’s hard to watch them make mistakes. But we need to let them suffer some consequences, too, or they will not grow into responsibility. What does that look like?

  • You help your child prepare for the day, the night before. You show them how to check schedules, and get things ready.
  • You don’t rush to fix things. Let them figure out what went wrong, and what they could do differently the next time.
  • You don’t bail them out. If a project is forgotten at home, let them take the lower grade. Knowing you won’t bail them out makes them more aware of their own responsibilities.

Children can learn from their mistakes. Think about what you are teaching them if you consistently bail them out. Let them learn to be responsible.

Think outside the box

Parents are creative beings out of necessity. It is one of our strengths, and we should use it whenever we can, including with our jobs and family. Bringing our parental creativity to work can actually give us an edge. Bringing our work skills home, too, can give us an advantage. What sort of things transfer?

  • Delegate. You do it at work, do it at home. Use machines to make your life easier (crockpot, microwave, etc). Have other people do your tasks (housecleaning, shopping service). Get your kids involved with chores. Everyone should contribute, and even the smallest child can help.
  • Use people’s strengths. Ask a friend who bakes to do the bake sale cookies while you hook up her new computer.
  • Apply time management to home. You know how to batch tasks and keep a meeting on track. Do the same at home.

Apply what you have learned at work to home to keep things running smoothly.

Working parents don’t have to be at a disadvantage. By adding these six simple habits to your day you can set the stage for being a successful working parent.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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