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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 November 11, 2019

                      How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                      How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                      Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

                      To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

                      Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

                      1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

                      Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

                      Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

                      To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                      2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

                      Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

                      If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

                      Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

                      3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

                      Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

                      Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

                      4. Feed Your Brain

                      Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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                      This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

                      Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

                      Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

                      5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

                      According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

                      Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

                      Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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                      6. Write it Down

                      If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

                      It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

                      You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

                      7. Listen to Music

                      Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

                      8. Visual Concepts

                      In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

                      Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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                      Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

                      9. Teach Someone Else

                      Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

                      Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

                      10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

                      Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

                      So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

                      Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

                      More About Boosting Memory

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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