Are you juggling parenthood, a career – and an online degree program? September 16 is National Working Parents Day – your day to take a bow.
By Tiffany Nelson, Ed.S., Prevention Counselor
Saint Leo University Counseling Center
September 16 is National Working Parents Day. And while all parents who work full-time and are raising a family deserve a pat on the back, if you’re also enrolled in a Saint Leo online degree program, you are totally amazing.
Although there are days when things don’t go your way -- when snacks are forgotten, a work engagement interferes with a soccer game, or you struggle with getting a paper just right -- you don’t let that discourage you from being a great employee, a dedicated parent and a hard-working student.
Between working countless hours a day – whether in an office, from home, or even a coffee shop –taking care of your family, and completing your online coursework on time, you are a modern-day champion of time management.
Unique challenges of working parents
Across both single and partnered parents, 60 percent (so, more than half) include families where all parents are working outside the home. That means more than half of all parents out there face the unique challenges that come with being a working parent – balancing childcare, managing household chores, reaching educational and career goals, and spending quality time with their families.
The challenge of balancing work and family can take an especially hard toll on working parents. In a recent survey, over 80 percent of respondents said they suffered from at least one stress-related health problem since becoming a working parent.
My role as a prevention counselor at Saint Leo University involves promoting health and well-being, changing campus culture, and preventing stress-related issues before they become a problem. And as working parents, I believe you deserve health and wellness, too.
The work-life balance myth
In The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success, author Teresa Taylor argues that the whole idea of “work-life balance” is an unrealistic goal.
“Words like ‘multitasking’ and ‘balance’ are code words for the ability to run faster than an officemate or the ability to keep plates spinning in the air like the best Chinese juggler,” she says. “The belief that one should be able to perfectly balance work and life, especially when life seems chaotic, makes people feel as if they’re failing.”
While Taylor believes that a perfect work-life balance is unrealistic, she does have some practical advice that helped her, a working mother, get through some challenges she faced trying to juggle work and family.
1. Stop multitasking.
While it may be counterintuitive, doing one thing at a time will allow you to do more than multitasking.
2. Assign a time limit to everything you do.
When that time limit is up, walk away and do something else to stave off perfectionism.
3. Keep one calendar for personal and professional.
Keeping two calendars is confusing and allows for things to fall through the cracks.
4. Have a day care plan B (and C and D and E).
Sometimes day care falls through. You will be able to rest more easily knowing you have a backup plan. That could include getting to know other working parents and taking shifts to help each other out.
5. Learn how to delegate.
While we agree that working parents are superheroes, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask spouses, kids, or friends for help doing things here and there.
Your most important job: role model
No matter what ups and downs life may bring, always remember that as a working parent, you are doing two very important jobs: raising a family and showing them the value of hard work and persistence, especially if you are also pursuing a college degree.
So on National Working Parents Day, take a moment to “refill your own cup” by taking a few moments to relax and do something you enjoy and to reflect on all that you do – your work, and kids, will be the better for it.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a working parent enrolled in an online degree program, and how do you overcome it?
Tiffany Nelson is a Prevention Counselor at Saint Leo University’s Counseling Services office, where she manages a number of programs to promote health and wellness among Saint Leo students. Tiffany earned her M.S./Ed.S. in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University, and loves watching movies, listening to music, and hanging out with her amazing friends. You can reach Tiffany at (352) 588-7203 or at [email protected].
Image credit: naluwan on Shutterstock.com
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