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10 Things Only Working Parents Would Understand

10 Things Only Working Parents Would Understand

Becoming a working parent is no easy thing – far from it. Choosing to have a child and balance a day-to-day job can be a stressful, demanding, exhausting way to live your life, and it can equally be a thrilling, enjoyable, and wonderful way to balance out your desire for a family with your need to advance and continue your career.

So if you’ve just become a working parent, are considering becoming one in the future, or know all too well the experiences that being a working parent entails, then check this list out!

1. You schedule absolutely everything.

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    One of the most important things you realise when you become a working parent is that you need to schedule everything. You’re not just dealing with your own schedule or both you and your partner’s – you’re dealing with another person’s, someone who doesn’t need to go to work or maybe even to school yet, but who needs your loving attention most hours of the day.

    Therefore, scheduling is key. You learn that sitting down one night to actually go through the next few weeks is incredibly helpful, as it allows you to juggle your career with downtime as well as making sure the child’s needs are well met and that someone familiar is always there. You learn that it’s not easy, but in the end it is worth it, despite the sleepless nights and potentially endless spreadsheet/timesheet making.

    2. Your sleep is a precious thing.

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      When you becoming a working parent, you learn that your sleep becomes even more of a precious, guarded commodity. Yes, sleep is a vital need at every stage of your life, but the pleasure of sleep is never quite so enhanced by the act of becoming a parent, particularly a working one at that.

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      You find yourself rejoicing at early bedtimes and praying that your child sleeps through the night, to give you a few blissful hours of uninterrupted, restorative dreamtime. The idea of sleeping in, or even better, having someone take your child for the night, is an oasis of delight you cling to desperately. Yes, adults are supposed to need a full seven to nine hours, but as a working parent with no time to nap during the day, you’ve learned that four is just about survivability, if not at all pleasant.

      3. Your guilt levels – occasionally – skyrocket.

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        We live in a culture of dichotomy – we’re expected to be perfect and perfectly balanced at all times. You can’t stay at home all day, but then you can’t be wholly committed to your work, even though, in a strange way you’re expected to be both. Therefore, with all the pressures of society bearing down on your as a fresh working parent, it’s not unexpected that there are times when you feel guilty.

        Some people will say that they ‘don’t know how you could leave your child at home’ with someone else, even if that someone else is a trusted family member or loved one, and even though you might have been expecting this, it can still hit hard and painful. Still, you know better than anyone that being a working parent means being able to further your career and still be a parent, so while this wave of guilt stings for a little while, it ebbs away and you get back to rocking your own personal balance, not society’s idealised one.

        4. Your family time becomes preciously guarded.

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          When you become a working parent, your actual family time really does diminish in the face of… well, everyday life, let’s be honest. When you’re not working or sleeping, there’s very little actually in the waking hours that you get to spend with your family, and it can be a real strain on your physical and mental health.

          Therefore, you start to guard your family time. Weekends become no-go zones for anything related to work, and even though you might be exhausted and crying out for a lie-in, you become more determined to do something with your children on that weekend, even if it’s something simple and enjoyable. Holidays too, become more protected, and you realise you would do anything to safeguard those few weeks free from work.

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          5. You start to develop stronger boundaries.

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            Before you had kids, you might have been fine dealing with multiple workloads and assignments, even if they extended out into the weekend or after hours. Sure, no problem, you can handle anything! However, as soon as you become a working parent, you’ll probably find yourself starting to develop a spine of steel when it comes to your working hours and leaving work very firmly at work.

            Yes, it might be a shock for your boss or superior at first, but developing tougher boundaries between the realms of work and life outside of it mean that you become mentally healthier and spend more time with your loved ones. Your boss will probably even develop a respect for you too for being able to let go and learn about your real and true priorities.

            6. You become a master at multitasking.

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              Multitasking has become a little bit of a strange thing in recent years – scientists tell us that it’s impossible, and yet so much of our day to day lives depend upon being to juggle a lot of things at the same time, and being able to wear a lot of different hats (figuratively, of course) at the same time. When you become a working parent, the problem merely exacerbates.

              However, you soon learn that rapidly switching your attention is a trick that can be learned and which soon becomes effortless after repeated practice. Mentally going over shopping lists and grocery runs while rocking the little one to sleep? No problem. Balancing a checkbook while reading a bedtime story and going over dinner plans with a loved one? You’ve got it. You learn about the art of juggling and become an expert at handling everything life throws at you.

              7. You become great at asking for help.

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                Admittedly, a lot of us have trouble in asking for help. We believe we can handle everything perfectly and efficiently, without any need of external support. However, when you become a working parent, that isn’t true. Well for most of us anwyay. You learn that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness at all – in fact, it’s the strongest people who do it.

                You begin to learn to rope in available family members for babysitting shifts whenever possible, and even begin to outsource some of your pressing tasks and mundane activities to loved ones. They’ll most likely to happy to do their fair share, leaving you time to sort out your life and spend solid time with the people you love the most. Win-win situation, right?

                8. You realise how important ‘me time’ actually is.

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                  Strangely enough, one of the most common things that working parents have learned throughout becoming parents at work, is that the need for downtime and ‘me time’ is much more of a pressing, almost daily need. You might not have noticed it before, given that after work, all of your other time was usually ‘me time’, but now you’re a working parent, you realise how important it is.

                  It’s not selfish to want it, either. Recharging your body and mind, even for half an hour a day, can be a buoying experience, allowing you to separate yourself from the responsibilities of home and work alike, and allowing you to simply be. You learn that carving out time for yourself is a necessity for undoing the pressures of stress, and it’s something you crave and fight for dearly – especially when someone’s parents say that they will take your child for the night…

                  9. You begin to identify with your parents so much more.

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                    This one isn’t to say that you didn’t identify with your parents before – of course you’re likely to have done so at one point or another – but when you become a working parent, it’s so much more likely that you begin to strongly understand and identify with everything your parents had to go through when you were a small child or a newborn.

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                    You begin to identify with the late nights, the juggling of workloads, and the constant battle to deal with everything that arises with a young child. You begin to discuss things with them – ideas, beliefs, techniques, of how to balance work and home, of how to get your child to sleep, how to look after them, even something as mundane as how best to change their nappy – and begin to understand and share the same experiences as they had, and as their own parents had. It can be a wonderful thing, even if it involves exhaustion and dirty nappies.

                    10. You realise everyone has their own opinion…

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                      Everyone has their opinion on how to raise a child, about every aspect of their lives, and when you become a working parent, these opinions only rise quicker to the surface. Every parent out there will have an opinion about how you are raising your child and the fact that you are continuing to work whilst raising a child.

                      The most important and valuable lesson you learn when you become a working parent, is simply that other peoples’ opinions don’t really matter. You know what’s best for your child, and if working whilst raising that child is what you need, then that’s absolutely fine and something you really should be doing. By all means listen to advice from loved ones, but don’t feel under obligation to take it. When you become a working parent, you learn that as long as you can do your own personal balance, then you’re already ahead.

                      What are your tips and experiences of being a working parent? Let us know in the comments below.

                      Featured photo credit: Young father and his baby via shutterstock.com

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                      Chris Haigh

                      Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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                      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

                      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

                      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

                      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

                      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

                      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

                      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

                      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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                      • (1) Research
                      • (2) Deciding the topic
                      • (3) Creating the outline
                      • (4) Drafting the content
                      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
                      • (6) Revision
                      • (7) etc.

                      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

                      2. Change Your Environment

                      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

                      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

                      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

                      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

                      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

                      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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                      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

                      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

                      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

                      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

                      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

                      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

                      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

                      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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                      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

                      6. Get a Buddy

                      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

                      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

                      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

                      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

                      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

                      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

                      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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                      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

                      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

                      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

                      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

                      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

                      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

                      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

                      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

                      Reality check:

                      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

                      More About Procrastination

                      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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