You don’t need to be told that being a working parent is tough. With so many competing responsibilities vying for your energy and attention, finding any sort of work-life balance can seem impossible — and all the more so if you’re a single dad. However, maintaining both a fulfilling career and an enriching family life can be done, whether you have a partner or not.
Successfully balancing your career and children will take some careful assessment and planning. It will require setting boundaries, schedules, and priorities, both at home and at the office, and sticking to them as often as possible. It will also require forgiving yourself for those many times when life doesn’t go according to plan.
Here are some effective ways to ensure your career, family, and personal well-being all get the attention they deserve.
Build (and Actually Use) a Support Network
We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” No matter where you live, you need a network of people you can rely on for support and, perhaps more importantly, you need to actually use it. Being a single parent can be isolating, exhausting, and frightening at times, with worries about the future always at the back of your mind. Knowing you have friends and family members to talk to, especially if they’re people who also understand the challenges of parenthood, can go a long way toward banishing that sense of isolation.
Your support network will also function as your backup child-rearing team. It should be comprised of people you can reach out to when you need a babysitter, assistance around the house, or anything else. It can be difficult to ask for help, but remember that your loved ones likely want to provide for you.
After all, consider a time when someone you loved needed you. Did you consider it a burden — or an honor — to provide that support to them?
Ask for a Flexible Work Schedule
It’s important you and your employer are on the same page, and that begins with letting them know you’re a single parent. Consider scheduling a meeting with your supervisor. Come prepared to not only discuss your needs and scheduling issues, but to also offer concrete solutions that prove you’re willing to be flexible in turn.
For example, If you need to leave early some days, you could offer to start work earlier than usual those days or work from home during off hours to make up the lost time. A flexible work schedule could also include options like working part-time or working longer shifts but fewer days during the workweek.
A reasonable employer should be open to discussion, and an increasing numbers of companies are offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to keep your family life running smoothly.
Keep Yourself on Your Priority List
Self-care might be a huge buzzword right now, but don’t let that detract from its critical importance in your life. For the sake of your mental and physical health, and that of your family, you simply can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take time for yourself to rest and recharge, you won’t be able to devote your full energy — or your best self — to work or parenting.
Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s important to figure out what will help you recharge. Do you play a sport or love hitting the gym? Do you crave social outings with friends or love to keep your mind engaged with art, literature, and film? Give yourself permission to do things that bring you joy. Allow yourself time to actually rest, too. This means time when you’re not checking work emails, planning the kids’ meals, or doing chores around the house. Not only will this make you more present when you are taking care of responsibilities, but it will set an example for your kids that they should be treating themselves with the same level of respect — not putting themselves at the bottom of their own priority lists.
Determine Your Non-Negotiables
This is a part of self-care, but it also applies to your entire working and family life. Ask yourself: What absolutely has to be done this week? What can wait? Non-negotiables might include taking your kids to lessons or practice, ensuring there’s always home-cooked food in the fridge, or allotting one day per week to doing something fun together as a family. You might also include time for your morning workout or meditation, or joining your coworkers for drinks after work every couple of weeks.
Once you know what is essential for your family to function well, your performance at work to remain solid, and your well-being to stay intact, it will be much easier to say no to the things that run counter to those priorities.
Protect Your Rights With a Family Lawyer
Making sure you have access to your children is the foundation on which you will build these other aspects of your life. Seek out the help of a family lawyer today to maintain custody of your