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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

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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 April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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