10 ways to juggle your career and parenthood

Businesswoman Claire Young shares her experience of balancing work and motherhood.

As an entrepreneur with a busy diary, a large business and a young family (a 4-year-old daughter) – I am forever asked: ‘How do you do it all?!’

My daughter was born on June 20th and I was back to work ten days later on June 30th so I have always managed the two alongside one another. I love my work. It provides financial stability for the household and gives me great job satisfaction at the same time as being a mum.

My life is a constant set of scales and I think this quote from Annabel Crabb sums it up well:

‘The obligation for working parents is a precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job’

Juggling parenthood and a career can often be described as a learning curve. For me though it felt like more of a learning cliff, I was throwing myself off into the great unknown and quickly learnt to multi-task to levels I never thought were possible.

There are no simple answers to getting it right and everyone has different circumstances but these 10 steps have helped me along the way.

1. Drop the guilt

Don’t feel guilty for working. It helps no one. You are doing it to help give your family a stable life and opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be afforded to them.

Don’t feel guilty for downing tools when it’s time to go home. Chances are you have worked your ass off non-stop throughout the day with minimal chatting time so that you can get out of there to start your next shift, which happens to be being a parent.

Plus, don’t feel guilty for making time for you. A happy person is a more productive person.

2. Be organised

Write it down, make it visible and stick to it. Be prepared, as much as you can, and avoid last minute rushes which tend to cost more time and money. Make sure you have important events in your child’s life on the calendar first so you can prioritise them and get cover at work if necessary.

3. Delegate where you can

Never feel like you are failing by not being able to do everything. See it as giving others an opportunity to work. Get help with house chores, if you can afford it.

Ironing, gardening, shopping, childcare are all things you could outsource to make your life easier. Utilise school clubs. They can be a lifeline for working parents and, at the same time, boost pupils’ academic performance.

4. Create a support system

Build a network of family, friends and parents at school where you can help one another. There really is strength in numbers!

Make sure the childcare you have is right. It is likely not going to be the cheapest childcare available. However, it is vital to your career progression that you are able to leave what’s happening at home in competent hands.

5. Use the power of saying no

If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Don’t feel bad. Your mental, and physical, sanity is worth more to you than pleasing someone else. You can’t do everything for everybody all the time.

6. Get ‘Amazon Prime’

Two golden words! No busy car parks or wasting time, which you haven’t got, trawling the shops. Have your items delivered the next day from the comfort of your sofa or desk.

7. Ask for flexible working

It’s about your own values. Tell your employer upfront what you want. The dynamics of the modern day workplace are changing. If people don’t ask, they will never get! If it doesn’t fit with your employer, it’s not the right fit.

8. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

The advice I would give to others is do what is right for you. Don’t feel judged because of a decision that is purely about you and your family. The right way is your way.

9. Manage your time

Set boundaries around your work and family time and stick to them. Turn your emails and phone off for family time. Everyone will benefit from this. Whatever it is can wait but being a mum won’t.

It’s worth remembering that no matter how hard you try to clear the inbox, you never will. There will always be a task to finish. Set a time and leave work when you said you would.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Mistakes are going to happen. Learn from them and move on. Give yourself grace. It’s OK to do things 80% as well as usual because you’re so busy. Don’t burn out attempting perfection.

Claire blogs for Total Jobs and put this brill blog together for them.  We have to confess, we thought it was so good, we stole it!  You can read more about Claire in our Meet the WoMos blog section.