Top tips for working parents: Balancing a successful career and parenthood

By Charlotte Griffin
15th November 2023

Returning to work after having a child can be overwhelming for parents. The transition back to the workplace often comes with worries about job performance, team dynamics, and managing the workload alongside family responsibilities.

However, with the increasing focus on work-life balance, employers are recognizing the importance of supporting working parents.

So, we collected feedback from our experienced working parents to find the ways we as an employer can help new parents navigate this challenging phase and offer some advice from our very own experts too.

From addressing the initial confidence dip, to finding a new normal and seeking support from employers, here are our team’s top tips for achieving a healthy work-life integration as a working parent:

1. Rebuilding Confidence and Establishing Authority

Returning from maternity leave can be accompanied by a knock to your confidence. Feeling unsure about your position within the team or worrying about the changes that occurred during your absence is very common.

However, remember that confidence grows with experience and successes.

Embrace the new challenges you’ll face and rebuild your relationships with team members, both old and new.

While you’re still on leave, it can be a good idea to try and stay updated with industry trends and advancements, particularly in fast-paced fields like digital marketing by reading articles and keeping on top of your industry news.

Engage in continuous learning to boost your knowledge and skills, which will enhance your confidence in your professional abilities.

2. Embracing the New Normal

Adjusting to the new equilibrium between work and home life is crucial.

Your priorities have shifted, and it’s important to acknowledge that your career may no longer be your sole focus – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s important to establish boundaries and communicate openly with your employer about your family responsibilities.

Understand that there will be times when you need to prioritize your children’s needs, and it’s okay to do so. Find a balance that works for you, allowing you to commit to both work and family obligations.

Overcoming feelings of guilt associated with divided attention is a gradual process and can be difficult, but remember that setting boundaries benefits both your work and family life.

3. Preparing for Challenges

While you can’t anticipate every hurdle, there are steps you can take to make the transition smoother.

Seek advice from experienced working parents or join support groups to gather insights and practical tips. Discuss logistical aspects with colleagues who have already been through the same experience.

You can consider returning to work on a part-time basis to start off with, if need be.

It’s also a good idea to organise a few Keeping in Touch days (or KIT days) to ease yourself back into working and can help you identify potential tension points and adjust your plans accordingly.

Remember that flexibility is key, both in terms of work arrangements and childcare arrangements. Being prepared for unforeseen circumstances will help you navigate the challenges more effectively.

4. Employer Support and Flexibility

Employers play a crucial role in facilitating a successful transition for working parents. When we asked what the best support employers can offer, the unanimous response was flexibility, a lack of judgement, and understanding.

Children don’t tend to follow a 9-5 schedule, and their needs will often change without much notice, if any at all, so providing flexibility in working hours, remote working options and understanding when it comes to last-minute leave requests is absolutely essential if you want to foster a positive working environment for parents.

Treating them with respect and granting them the authority over their own timetable can help them to strike the right balance between work and family life, rigid structures will only alienate working parents and could result in more opportunities being wasted and things slipping through the cracks.

For employers it’s important to remember that this understanding and flexibility also needs to be flexible itself, as the parenting rhythm will inevitably change and evolve as the children and families grow.

5. Relaxation and Acceptance

Sometimes you need to be reminded to just relax. You have changed as an individual by becoming a working parent, and accept that there will always be some things that are simply beyond your control.

Don’t rush the process, focus on enjoying the precious moments with your child while you still can.

Remember that your career progression and successes are not diminished by your role as a parent and as a working parent you bring a unique perspective and value to your workplace.

Give yourself permission to prioritize your responsibilities and change those priorities when you need. Accept that you can’t do everything all the time, trust in your abilities and rely on the support of your team.

6. Embracing the Joys

While there are certainly challenges, being a working parent comes with unique joys too.

Sharing your work accomplishments with your family can really help you connect with them and feel pride in your work as you set an example of your values to your children. And on the other side of that coin, talking about your family with colleagues can help foster connections on a more personal level.

The experience of being a parent equips you with valuable skills that enhance both your professional and personal life; from multitasking to problem solving, parenthood provides a perspective that can bring clarity to your work.

Embrace the joy of seeing your child’s face after a day of work, and cherish the meaningful moments that make the balancing act worthwhile. Balancing work with a new child can be difficult, but with the right strategies and support it will be a fulfilling journey.

Remember that rebuilding confidence takes time and effort, but each success will restore you’re your belief in your abilities.

Embrace the new normal and establish boundaries that allow you to prioritize both work and family.

Seek support from experienced working parents and communicate openly with your employer about your needs.

With flexibility, understanding, and trust, you can achieve a harmonious work-life integration as a working parent.

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