With back-to-school season upon us, I can’t help but flash back to the days of backpacks, sharp pencils and the first-day-of-school jitters. When I reflect on having young children, I can’t help but feel there is a critical person who gets lost in these annual weeks of stress: The working parent.
My four children are now grown up, but this time of year is still nostalgic for me. During the month of August, while kids transition to their new classrooms, meet new friends and start all the after-school activities, mornings quickly blur to night.
A lot of days, a working parent can feel like they have more in common with a circus performer than their childless colleagues! I think it is important to acknowledge that all parents are essential for back to school. Whether you are a CEO, a new business owner or a stay-at-home parent, we can all support each other during this demanding time.
Many Stealth employees hold the difficult position of caring for young children while simultaneously focusing on their career. I am very understanding (although not envious) of the big shoes they have to fill on a daily basis.
I thought now would be an excellent opportunity to offer my tips for being a full-time, successful working mother (or parent, for that matter).
1. Make breakfast easy to access. Put Cheerios in the bottom cabinet. Ensure you have plenty of food your kids can grab on their own. Not only does this help them take on more responsibility, but it also takes one chore off your list. Even the youngest of children can grab some cereal. Bonus: This breakfast skill overflows to the weekend. Soon enough, your kids will be bringing you breakfast in bed!
2. Make time to attend your children’s after-school activities and support their dreams. I have watched four very different children grow into adults. They all tried different sports, different actives, and I decided to encourage them every step of the way. After-school activities are an important part of how children learn — and a significant time and money investment.
Just try to remember those painting classes create artists, and those double practices produce athletes. Let your kids explore what makes them happy. Plus, you never know what activities might lead to a scholarship.
3. Take time to listen to what happened in their lives each day. Someone once gave me a tip that I will always remember: Have your son or daughter give you the top three great things that happened during their day. It actually works as a good transition to keep communication channels open.
4. Make time for your health. Exercise has always been an important part of my daily routine and has helped with my stress level. Yoga, cardio or just setting 30 minutes aside to make a healthy family dinner. The time you give back to yourself helps you become a better, more patient, working parent. If an hour of exercise leads to calmer nighttime rituals or eases you enough to read an extra-long bedtime story, that’s a good tradeoff. Time is important, but your health is critical.
5. On the flip side, if you are a business owner or manager make sure you trust your employees. I believe one of the keys to a successful workplace is flexibility. I make sure my staff can take time off for important family events. When trust and flexibility meet in the middle it creates a happier, healthier and more loyal workforce.
What are your tips for being a successful working parent?
Let me know in the comments or email me. Let's start brainstorming better ways parents can help each other on a daily basis.