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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 February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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