One of the biggest problems a working parent may very well face is the guilt of being away from their children for 8+ hours per day. At times, maybe even feeling as if they are not the ones raising their own child, but that that job is being done by a childcare provider. Finding a happy medium is not an easy task to say in the least. However, there are some ways to try and ease some of the guilt and make up for the “lost time.”
Make every moment with your child count. Sing songs on the way home from daycare in the car. Start a conversation about what your child did that day (you may have to do some fishing). Having your childcare provider log your child’s daily activities can be a big help with conversation starters. By having a written report, you can discuss some of the information your provider has given you, thus sparking that conversation with the little one.
At home while preparing dinner, let your little one help out by pouring, stirring and observing, even discussing each ingredient. Not only will mealtime preparation become a learning experience, but also turns into some quality time and fun together. If possible, plan your meals ahead of time and use your crock pot to cut prep time down. While dinner is in the oven, etc., take a few minutes to read a book together or color a picture.
Then there’s dinnertime. Try and keep a routine by sitting at the table facing one another, with no radios or televisions turned on. That’s when you can bring up more conversation or even play games (I spy is a good one that doesn’t require getting up from the table). Although some parents may believe that games have no place at the dinner table, others may incorporate those games during this time to take advantage of every minute with their child. Try eating out once a week at your child’s favorite restaurant.
Bath time can be another fun time spent together, since little ones consider bath time play time. Bring some extra plastic cups or dolls into the bathtub for mom and dad to play with too.
Start a special ritual just before bedtime. Something as simple as reading a favorite book, making up a new story, watching a favorite show together or sharing a snack and sitting close can help you to feel your time together has made up for the lost time during the day.
Without totally exhausting yourself, try and leave the light housework for after the children go to bed. If that is out of the question, try including your child in on the chores. Let them help fold the laundry, sweep the floor or stack the dishes in the dishwasher. Doing it together may make it seem more like “play” than “work”. Another option—hiring a made, even two days a week, can make a big difference in the housecleaning department, relieving some of the pressure.
Remember, leave some time for you after the kids go to bed…read a relaxing book, exercise, take a bath or just sit in front of the TV. By refreshing yourself in this way, you are preparing to give your all to your career the next day, as well as getting ready for the quality time you’ve been waiting for all day long.
Lastly, remember that going to work is something you are doing for your child and family to provide for their needs; not only the necessities, but perhaps the extras during the year that your children look forward to and wouldn’t have if you were not working.
Check out different parenting web sites on a regular basis, which contain many tips and new articles for working parents in the effort to achieve some balance between home, career and children. Good luck!