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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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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

How to Become Smarter: 21 Things You Can Do Daily

How to Become Smarter: 21 Things You Can Do Daily

Although many people believe intelligence is limited to those with high I.Q.s, there are a number of potential methods to boost one’s cognitive abilities and become more effective at various professional and personal pursuits.

With enough motivation and determination, anyone can expand their mental capabilities and become smarter. Integrating new habits into your regular routine and providing proper stimulation can sharpen your intellect quickly and leave you inspired to take on new challenges each day.

So how to become smarter?

Brain health is an important key in complete physical health. The list below includes the best brain-engaging activities in daily life.

Inviting Novelty

To create new neural pathways and strengthen the brain, it’s critical for people to continually incorporate new experiences and information into their lives. At first, these moments might feel useless, but eventually, you will find yourself looking forward to quiet moments alone.

1. Visit New Places

Whether this means studying in a new coffee shop, taking a different route to work, or traveling to a different country, displacement is good for the brain. This might be difficult to recognize in the moment since it usually feels rather awkward – at least initially. At the coffee shop, you can’t order the “usual.” You have to study a new menu, pick something you have never tried before, and make a decision.

While this seems simple, people enjoy the comfort of habit. We like to know what to expect at all times. When you travel to a new country, the language is strange, the customs are unfamiliar, and the culture presents a strange new rhythm of life. Adjusting to these new elements forces the brain to tackle new, unexpected challenges.

Learning how to communicate through a language barrier forces the brain to develop creative ways to express needs and emotions. Listening to new music, trying new foods, and navigating foreign streets all work to challenge your brain’s capacity to adapt to new situations.

2. Continue Your Education

Adult education is one of the best investments of time, money, and energy you can make. While education is valuable throughout childhood and adolescence, adults often underestimate their ability to learn new concepts and skills.

Challenge yourself to take a class, academic or creative. Voluntarily choosing to continue education provides a perfect opportunity for your brain to create new connections and build higher intelligence.

Also check out these 15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain.

3. Read and Watch the News

This is one activity that maintains the appearance of habit while nurturing healthy brain waves. Setting aside half an hour every morning or evening to read a newspaper or watch the news will help your brain stay active.

Digesting new information is a good daily habit. The news introduces interesting topics to consider, and will leave your brain churning with new information.

4. Read

Reading is the most basic way to facilitate brain activity, but it often presents some of the most diverse opportunities for stretching brain capacity.

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Reading provides practical assistance by introducing new vocabulary, presenting examples of proper grammar usage, and showing the elegance of a well-written sentence. However, this is only half of the magic of reading.

Whether you choose fiction, non-fiction, historical literature, or poetry, reading offers an opportunity for the reader to make big-picture connections between the literature and real life. In this way, reading is an alternative way to make your brain travel to a new place.

As your imagination works to create tangible people, places, and experiences from the words on the page, your brain is rewiring to understand all the new information.

Here’re some great books to read:

5. Approach Work in New Ways

The workplace is a canvas for new experiences. Regardless of what type of job you might hold, everyone is at one time or another presented with opportunities to think outside the box, problem solve in a creative way, and contribute fresh ideas to the team.

Instead of stressing over each new problem, it’s important to relax and starting imagining alternatives for reaching an end goal.


Challenging Yourself

Like a weightlifter who develops muscles, one must exercise the brain on a daily basis, pushing it just beyond its current capabilities. As Albert Einstein once said,

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”

This quote encapsulates what I believe about the brain. With enough focus and stretching, the brain can truly surprise people.

Underestimating yourself holds you back from success. When people begin believing in their abilities, they often go beyond what they thought was possible.

6. Do Brain Training

Organizations like Lumosity offer fantastic daily brain training. With puzzles and games designed to increase neuroplasticity, Lumosity was created to challenge the brain to make new connections.

A group of neuroscientists at University of California Berkeley developed this program to provide stimuli for the brain to push it to adapt and re-train itself in uncharted territory. Success stories abound concerning the results of this public experiment.

You can also try these 11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory.

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7. Ask 5 Whys When Encountering Problems

One of the most standard problem solving solutions, the 5 whys still provide a solid start to uncovering the root of a problem.

Asking a question gets the brain working to find an answer. Instead of worrying about the problem, always start by asking why.

Learn more about this problem solving framework here: How to Solve Any Problem Efficiently with 5 Whys (Step-By-Step Guide)

8. Eschew Technology to Keep the Brain in Shape

Technology does wonders for the modern world, but in some ways, technological dependence stunts the brain’s capacity for problem solving, adapting to new environments, and being a reliable resource for practical things like simple mathematics and navigation.

Try going on a trip without a GPS. Work a few algebra problems without a calculator. Make your brain work for you; you’ll see the results.

9. Foster Creativity

Finger-painting in preschool was not only a fun activity; it helped open up the mind to new possibilities and ways of solving problems. An artistic mindset creates new opportunities to find new solutions, fresh inspiration, and peaceful confidence.

The blend of these elements in both personal and professional environments allows ordinary people to shine by becoming an innovative thinker and inventive leader. Find ways to incorporate creativity into the dull grind of daily tasks.

Take a look at these 30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity.

10. Draw

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the benefits of drawing, which cultivates brain activity in a unique way. In addition to nurturing basic hand-eye coordination, it sends synapses to neurotransmitters to help more permanently and vividly store your memories.

From doodles on a piece of scrap paper to charcoal portraits, drawing is a healthy brain activity for everyone.

11. Paint

Painting is an extension of drawing. It feeds the same areas of the brain; but unlike drawing, painting often introduces new and unfamiliar textures and colors to stimulate the brain.

Painters often have a keen sense of awareness towards their surroundings. Engaging in painting encourages people to notice minute details of the world around them. Focusing the brain in this manner brings a heightened state of alertness.

12. Play an Instrument

Learning to play an instrument also has outstanding benefits for the brain. Hand-eye coordination, memory, concentration, and mathematic skills all improve through playing an instrument. While some are more challenging to learn than others, any instrument facilitates increased and improved cognitive functioning.

From training your fingers to master complex musical passages on the piano to counting the beats in a musical measure, instruments force various regions of the brain to work together to create music.

13. Write

Like reading, writing encourages vocabulary growth, grammar skills, and use of proper syntax. Writing helps the brain store information more effectively and fosters better memory skills. Studies show that students who regularly take handwritten notes during college classes consistently score better on tests.[1]

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Writing forces a person to pay attention to their memories, experiences, and internal dialogues – a combination that increases brain function altogether.

Learn more about the benefits of writing: 5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

14. Role-Play

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and your brain starts to rewire to help you think like a different person.

For those struggling to form creative ideas, role-playing can help the wheels start turning in the brain to help develop unique solutions for difficult problems.


Working with Others

Although logical intelligence is important, emotional intelligence plays an equally vital part in overall success. Interacting with others helps people expand beyond their own limited thinking, gain new ideas, and see things from a different perspective.

People are challenging. Smart people often enjoy isolation because it protects them from being critical of others. However, this discomfort is necessary for truly smart people because it pushes them outside their bubble.

When you start to believe you have all the right answers, start collaborating with others to expand perspective.

15. Teach and Share Information with Others

Whether this is achieved virtually or face-to-face, pursue colleagues and peers to share experience and wisdom. Fresh faces and new ideas spur inspiration and create an amplified learning environment for the brain.

By creating a network for sharing ideas, your brain starts developing a new network for formulating and executing innovative concepts.

16. Talk to Interesting People

No two people share the same life experiences. Everyone interprets information uniquely, stores memories differently, and digests daily life with their own intellectual flare. This makes collaboration a necessity for brain health.

Although we are all inclined to think our method is the best approach, gaining perspective from another person helps our brain consider new solutions and new techniques for both personal and professional issues.

Whether the conversation is centered on religion, finances, politics, or diet trends, people should practice being a good listener. Silencing your own thoughts while the other person speaks is often challenging, but the brain needs discipline to stay sharp.

17. Work in a Team Environment

Collaborative environments are essential for enhancing brain activity. Some people who enjoy working independently dread the moment when they are forced to participate in a team-focused workplace. However, these independent individuals are highly intelligent and can benefit the most from a little teamwork.

Author Steve Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, focuses on the benefits of collaborating with peers and coworkers to develop original ideas and effective strategies for their execution. The modern workplace continues to shift towards this team-oriented approach.

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Cultivating Physical Health

The body feeds the brain, and keeping oneself in top physical condition is crucial to adequate fueling and operation of the brain. Lack of motivation, mental fatigue, and absence of inspiration are typically connected to poor exercise, diet, and focus.

18. Exercise

Studies constantly show people who exercise regularly have higher I.Q. scores.[2] In addition to maintaining a strong body, people who exercise regularly actually stimulate brain cell growth. A process called neurogenesis occurs during rigorous exercise, which increases the production of neurotransmitters. With side effects like increased dopamine, active people enjoy less stress, better concentration, and more energy.

Dr. Michael Nilsson of Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden conducted extensive research on the topic.[3] “Being fit means that you also have a good heart and lung capacity and that your brain gets plenty of oxygen,” the doctor said. His research focused on over a million Swedish military men, and Dr. Nilsson found a direct correlation between physical fitness and high scores on I.Q. tests.

19. Pursue Athletics

Multiple studies have shown active children typically do better in school and have a better chance of continuing their education after high school graduation. Although athletic pursuits can feel grueling at the time, the overall benefits of intense physical activity are wise for your future.

Whether it’s finding one thing you are good at, like basketball, running, or lifting weights, or trying something new every day, maintaining an athletic routine is important for optimal brain health.

20. Meditate

Controlling and calming the brain is as powerful as enhancing activity through instruments and puzzles. Doctors have been studying the effects of mediation on the brain for several years, and the results are impressive.

In one famous study, Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin collaborated with the Dalai Lama to study what happens to the brain during meditation.[4]

Transcendental Meditation yields impressive results for the brain. People who struggle with fear, anxiety, depression, and other mental ailments should experiment with meditation to calm themselves and develop a stronger sense of focus.

Here’s a The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime to help you start meditating.

21. Maintain a Nutritious Diet

Children and adults interested in boosting brain activity should begin by transforming their diet. Research from the University of Bristol in England points to a strong connection between unhealthy diet and low I.Q. scores in children.[5] To begin reversing unhealthy tendencies, try cutting out excess fat, sugar, and fast foods, and start adding more vegetables, fruit, and lean meats. These 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health are good for you too.

There are also a number of unusual drinks proven to help brain function. Matcha green tea, raw cacao hot chocolate, and ginkgo biloba tea all show benefits for the brain. Some scientist claim ginkgo biloba helps pump more blood to the brain, improving circulation.

The Bottom Line

Creating daily routines to promote healthy brain activity doesn’t require the advice of a neuroscientist. While plenty of studies provide convincing evidence, increasing brain activity can be accomplished with a few basic steps.

Be intentional about your time and energy to start working towards a smarter and more fulfilling life.

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Featured photo credit: David Iskander via unsplash.com

Reference

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