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7 Habits of Successful Working Parents

7 Habits of Successful Working Parents

If you are working parents, then the juggling act in getting the work-family balance right can be challenging, to say the least. Managing pressing work commitments with demands from your family to be with them, leaves many working parents frustrated and guilty. Single parents have no choice and as many as 44% of full time working mothers wished that they could work part-time but they cannot.

If we are looking at a workable model of a country committed to making it easier for successful working parents, Sweden is an excellent example. The government offers generous maternity and paternity leave, flexible working hours and very affordable childcare. This helps parents reach their full potential at work and at home.

If you are not living in Sweden, here are 7 ways successful working parents can get the balance right.

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1. Be Flexible

Being flexible can be applied in many areas of work and home life. For example, each working parent should consider the possibility of working from home or having flexible hours at their fulltime job. Many employers are now offering these facilities so it is definitely worth exploring. Parents can save valuable time by not having to commute on certain days of the week. You can also opt to work shifts which fit in better with your family commitments. By starting early, you can finish earlier so that you can attend your daughter’s school play or take her to the dentist.

Flexibility can also work to the family’s advantage in that both parents and kids can adjust to meet urgent demands and be willing to change schedule. This may happen when a business trip occurs or when a child is sick and needs to be cared for at home.

2. Exercise with Your Kids

You may think that adding in an extra activity such as regular exercise is just going to make matters worse and add to all the stress of meeting work and home demands. There are loads of studies which show that physical activity helps reduce stress. Think of it as making your family time that much more enjoyable because you are relaxed. If you can involve other members of the family as well, then this is a great way of bonding and spending quality time with your kids. It is making you more efficient and confident and that will carry over into the workplace and your home.

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3. Separate work commitments and parenting

If you decide to work some hours at home, be sure not to mix the two. Taking a conference call while helping your kids with homework is not advisable. You may also have to switch off your iPhone as you arrive home so that you can really spend quality time with your children. Many work positions demand that you are on call all the time. You may have to decide to take urgent work calls after the kids have been put to bed.

4. Get your friends and neighbors involved

Lots of time and effort can be saved by sharing tasks with your wider family and neighbors. You can offer to help with carpooling when you can while relying on someone else to rally round when your child needs to be picked up. Knowing your kids are safe and well can save you enormous amounts of worry and stress while at work. You will have to be committed to returning the favors, of course.

5. Get your kids involved

I grew up in a home where we all had to do chores because both parents were working. My mother was a part-time pharmacist at the local hospital. We quickly learned how to heat up the stew at the right time, light the fire and have tea ready on cold winter evenings.By teaching your kids to be responsible for various chores, you are taking off some of the pressure and you are also helping them to become self-sufficient. Encouraging teamwork and responsibility is a great way to prepare them for living in the adult world. It can also be made fun and creative as suggested in this Pinterest board.

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6. Spend Quality Time

Your quality time with kids as working parents is precious. Just think that a five year old has already used up 260 of the 940 Saturdays she has before she leaves for college!

One surprising fact emerged when kids were interviewed as to what most concerned them about their working parents. It was not the actual amount of time but about 30% wished their parents were not so stressed out or tired. When the parents were interviewed, only 2% of them thought stress might be an issue. Here are some tips to make sure that quality time is what it says on the label.

  • Forget your work emails and help kids prepare for bed by getting them to switch off their devices, turn down the lighting and read them a story.
  • Organize special dinner nights such as tacos or pizzas and get your kids involved in the preparation. Ask them what they prefer for next week so they feel they have a choice.
  • Try walking instead of driving if the distance and weather permit. You can talk to your child a lot better when you are not distracted by bad drivers. It is also much more relaxing for both of you.
  • Make a firm commitment to be present at important matches and school events. If you have built in enough flexibility, this should be possible.
  • Organize making dates with your kids so that they feel special, at least once a month. They will treasure that time with you and it is great to catch up with they are doing. Ask about school and tell your child about your work.
  • If appropriate, you may be able to show your child where you work. Your office may organize a “Bring your child to work day” so that they will feel more involved and understand why you are so stressed out!

7. Use Shared Calendars and Back Up Plans

Everyone knows what everyone else is doing. This makes it much easier to plan. Having shared calendars is essential as well as having a back up plan when someone falls ill or there is an unexpected glitch or a gremlin in the works. Mobile technology is a great help here! Kids and parents know the drill when something goes wrong. Time management apps are superb for keeping track of everyone’s commitments. You can sync them across multiple devices. Kids will appreciate being in the loop and also become involved in their parents’ lives which is just another part of growing up.

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Let us know in the comments about how you successfully juggle work and family commitments.

Featured photo credit: 2012 Bring your Child to work day at ED 04262012 77/ US Department of Education via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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