Strategies for Parents to Stay Mentally Strong in the Workplace
The Realities Every Working Parent Faces
Have you ever felt like you’re juggling flaming torches, all while riding a unicycle on a tightrope?
That’s parenthood for you, especially when you’re trying to shine professionally, too.
If you are already a parent you likely have found some sort of workable schedule that fits for you and your child, but if you are a new Mom or Dad, that struggle can be overwhelming. The rush of pure joy is something beyond compare. Your brain is in overdrive. From choosing a name that will form a cornerstone of your child’s identity to ensuring your kiddo has sunscreen for daycare, to larger concerns about their school years down the line, you’re constantly on edge. This mix of thoughts? Let’s call it the ‘stress bucket.’ And boy, it can it fill up very quickly.
Childcare is on everyone’s mind. In today’s workforce, 40% of U.S. companes embrace paid maternity leave, 32% offer paternity leave. With employers struggling to retain disengaged workers, parental leave benefits have reached a historic high in the U.S. with more than half a million workers opting to stay home and care for their children in October 2023. The good news however, comes from a recent study by KinderCare which shows that 69% of working parents feel they are now able to be more involved in their children’s lives because of more flexible work schedules and the availability of hybrid work options and greater autonomy about where and when people work.
The Stress Bucket: A Metaphor You Can’t Ignore
But let’s get back to that parental Stress Bucket. Think of it as that overflowing laundry basket at home. Every sock (or worry) contributes, and soon, you’re drowning in a sea of clothes. The relief? A great night’s sleep. And not just any sleep, but that deep, REM kind, where dreams come alive and your brain recharges.
However, here’s where the plot thickens. With a new baby or even a toddler around, uninterrupted sleep becomes a distant dream. Reduced REM sleep? It’s like trying to empty that laundry basket with just a teaspoon. You’re forgetful, tired, and your workplace efficiency? Let’s just steer clear of that topic for now. And if you’ve found yourself reaching for that sugary snack at 3 pm, you’re not alone. It’s just your brain seeking a quick fix.
What Many Overlook
Today’s life? It’s hectic. Preparing for work presentations, chatting with colleagues, ensuring the fridge isn’t empty – sounds familiar? Our brains, bless them, try to keep up. Yet, when we’re juggling too much at once, something inevitably has to take a backseat.
Setting Boundaries: A Secret Weapon
But there’s a secret weapon many parents overlook or just plain forget. Setting Boundaries. Drawing clear lines between different areas of your life. It’s pretty common to find ourselves so wrapped up in being both a super parent and ace at work, we can’t tell where one job stops and the other starts. Ever caught yourself answering work emails during your child’s bedtime story? Indeed, it’s a scenario we’ve all encountered at some point. Boundaries don’t just help segregate our responsibilities; they teach our brains to switch off from one role and focus on the other. It’s like telling your brain, “Hey, it’s family time now. Work can wait.” That clarity will do wonders for your mental strength.
The Power of Delegation
Another tool in the arsenal? It’s like passing the baton in a relay race, trusting your teammate to carry on with the task. In a professional setting, this could be as simple as giving a teammate the reins on part of an assignment. At home, maybe allowing your partner or a family member to handle the school run or weekly grocery shopping. Grasping the fact that handling everything solo isn’t a medal of distinction is crucial. But delegating some tasks lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.
Celebrate Small Wins: Boost Your Morale
Last, but not least, take a moment to celebrate your small wins. Did you manage to wrap up a project ahead of schedule? Or perhaps you enjoyed a full evening with the family, sans work interruptions. But those little moments can really fill you up. Recognizing and celebrating them gives you the drive to face challenges head-on.
Finding Joy in Micro-Moments
In the midst of all this chaos, there’s a silver lining – micro-moments. Those fleeting minutes where you laugh at an inside joke with a colleague or watch your child discover something new. Cherish these moments. They invigorate our essence, serving as quiet nudges of the natural splendor tucked within the ceaseless grind.
The Golden Strategies Every Parent Should Know
Embrace Flexibility: The New-age Mantra
Workplaces today get it. They get how tough it is to balance being a parent with work duties. So, don’t hesitate! Seek arrangements like flexible timings or remote work options. LinkedIn published an insightful piece about “What Makes a Great Family Friendly Employer in 2023?” Among many of the excellent points in makes includes: “… to be considered a family friendly employer, [an organization] should be offering more than the basics. Caring policies must be clearly communicated and opened up in order to meet increasing and diverse carer needs. Policies on return to work transition, innovative communication, well-being, and flexible working – key enablers to embedding a family inclusive workplace culture.
There’s a range of challenges that can prevent parents from delivering their best work and the high cost of child care can result in unnecessary absenteeism. Progressive employers have started to address the diverse needs of the carer workforce by providing childcare contributions, on-site childcare provision and other policies that will alleviate pressure.”
If you are struggling with that delicate work/life/child balance, consider speaking with your Manager or HR department. If your employer is not particularly forward-thinking, perhaps you can help get them on board by suggesting alternative work hours, remote work options and hybrid schedules or job sharing positions between working parents. DOL statistics show that 33.3 million families…two-fifths of all families, included children under age 18 and at least one parent was employed in more than 91% of these families, in 65% of these families both families were employed. It is an issue that must be addressed if viable workplaces will continue and companies want to attract and retain capable workforces.
Your Personal Reset Button
And just when you are ready to collapse from the pressures of your job, your colleagues, your kids, your partner or any one else, take a deep breath. Carving out me-time isn’t just some lavish treat; it’s an absolute must-have. Whether it’s a short meditation session, a chapter from your favorite book, or a power nap, these moments reset your mind, making you more efficient. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Lean On Your Tribe
So, there you go, that’s the gist of it. Strategies that don’t just work but can work wonders.Don’t laugh – it can be done – generations of parents before you have managed, but now its time to change the culture. Staying mentally strong as a parent in the workplace takes focus. You’ve totally got the power to ace this! We welcome hearing your own working parent/life balance tips at Info@LloydStaffing.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Our guest blogger, Casey Bloom, is a dedicated health enthusiast turned writer, with a keen interest in nutrition, fitness, and holistic health. Through an informative yet approachable style, Casey simplifies complex health topics, empowering readers from all walks of life. Beyond inspiring positive health decisions, Casey’s passion for writing spans various niches, always aiming to engage and educate.
Lloyd Note: We have had a BABY BOOM at Lloyd and are pleased to share photos of the following little Lloydsters born in 2023! Congrats to the parents and grandparents.