Prioritising your wellbeing as a working parent can be a challenge. When you return to work after parental leave you are suddenly faced with the challenge of juggling two huge responsibilities – your job and being a parent. Pre-baby and then during parental leave, you only have to manage one of these at any given time, and that can be tricky enough.
But once you’re back at work it can feel like a whole different ball game. And although you have childcare in place to look after your little one while you’re at work, that doesn’t solve all the other ‘stuff’ that takes time and energy, like the drop offs/pick ups, life admin, mental load etc.
It’s a lot. And while you’re trying to keep on top of endless to-do lists, the thing that often falls to the bottom of the priority list is YOU! But, it’s really important you don’t and that you do what you can to improve your own wellbeing as a working parent. We all know the phrase, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and it’s so true.
If you don’t give yourself the time and space to do the things you need to do to reset and recharge you’ll soon be left with no energy to give to others. Additionally if it goes on, over time it can lead to resentment, overwhelm and burnout.
When you’re trying to juggle your job and being a parent you’ve got a lot to think about and it can be easy for thoughts of one to creep into the time when you’re doing the other. This can leave you feeling like you’re never fully present in either which can be frustrating and lead you to feel guilt over parenting or work.
Taking time to think about what your non-negotiables are around how you spend your time at work and with your family is a helpful first step to working out what boundaries you want to put in place to protect them.
Then consider, who do you need to communicate these boundaries with? Would setting a ‘do not disturb’ time be helpful? How are you going to maintain them?
Every working parent has a list as long as their arm of things to do. Set yourself realistic expectations of what you can achieve and by when. I know I’m guilty of always trying to squeeze just one more thing in before I have to rush out the door or jump on a call. And the result is often that I feel stressed and under even more pressure because I’m then always in a race with myself. But I’m bringing this on myself by trying to do too much in the restricted time I have.
Accepting that not everything is going to get done today and that it’s ok to have a couple of minutes spare before you are on to the next thing, will help relieve the weight of feeling always on the go and pushed for time.
Whether it’s taking a walk outside, going to the gym, joining a dance class or something else that you enjoy. Taking some form of exercise, even when you don’t feel like it, can help restore energy.
On days when your diary is packed and you’re back-to-back with meetings, see if there are any that you can attend on your phone while you go for a walk? Although it’s not a complete break, just having the opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air is definitely better than nothing.
One of the biggest hurdles for working parents when it comes to wellbeing, is often finding the time to fit it in. But honestly, there’s unlikely to be the perfect moment to take a bath, read a book, talk to a friend or whatever else you might want to do. So if you’re waiting for it, then you could be waiting a while…
Instead, prioritise it and try blocking the time out in your diary, just like you would a meeting or appointment. Even if it’s only half an hour, book it in! Then plan what you want to do with that time, what would make you feel good, energised and give you joy?
To start with, finding ways to create shorter but regular chunks of time for you like this can often be more achievable than trying to find whole days.
Whatever stage of parenthood you’re at, I firmly believe that having a support network that you feel comfortable with and can trust is key. Finding those people that you can talk to, ask for help from, and offer support in return is so beneficial.
Whether it’s your partner, family member, friend, colleague, therapist, coach or someone else, knowing that you have that support around you can offer great comfort. On the other side, being there for someone else in return when they need it can also be empowering for you too.
In summary, looking after your own wellbeing as a working parent often falls to the bottom of the long list of things to keep on top of – but it really shouldn’t. Not just for your sake but for those around you too. It doesn’t need to take loads of time or money, but being organised and creating those all important boundaries can help you carve out even small amounts of time that can help you feel refreshed and energised.
I hope that you’ve found these tips useful when it comes to finding ways of prioritising and managing your own wellbeing.
However, if you’re on parental leave and wondering how you’re going to manage when it comes to going back to work, or if you’re already back at work and finding it tricky to balance things in a way that works for you, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free discovery call with me here.
I’d love to find out more about what’s going on for you right now and talk through how we could work together so that you can start prioritising your wellbeing, in a way that feels manageable and exciting for you.