The balancing act of being a working parent

Posted: Monday July 13 2020

By: Katie Mallinson

Being a working parent is far from easy. For many the complete change in lifestyle following the birth of a child is a huge shock to the system. And, if the decision is made to return to work – or when that time comes, if you own a business – there are many pressures to contend with.  

The balancing act of being a working parent

It’s fair to say that the majority of these come from within – as people often strive to work as though they don’t have children, and parent as if they didn’t have a career.

It’s a tricky situation, but it is possible to find a balance. Here are a few tips to help…

Be honest

It’s true that honesty is the best policy. Be clear to your employer – or team if you are the employer – exactly what your limitations are, and when you will be available. Telling yourself and others that you will be able to answer calls or emails on an evening for example, if you know that you can’t because you are getting your children in bed, sets the wrong tone and means nobody knows where they stand.

If you admit to being unavailable after 5.30pm – or that you will be completely out of range of contact on your non-working days – this ensures a clear agreement, with less room for guilt if you answer your phone when you want to have quality time with the kids (or don’t answer when you said you would).

Keep talking

If the arrangements you have put in place get too much for you, speak to your employer (or let your staff know that something has to give). Linked to the above, remaining honest and open throughout is key to making your career and parenting work alongside each other. If your employer offers you flexibility – as they should – remember that this approach is two-sided, so remaining flexible to your work is also important, and communicating how well something is working is vital.

Switch off

Once the boundaries between home and work life are set, stick to them. Otherwise you are going against everything you have put in place and are setting yourself up for a fall. By switching off from work communications at the times you have stated, you are enabling yourself to be a parent, and enjoy spending time with your children without feeling that a work email could change everything at any moment.

Aside from an emergency – when it could be expected that employees would be available to help out – turning your brain off from work life is so important, for both your health and wellbeing (and your family’s too).

Ask for help

Nobody should suffer in silence. You may have the support network of a full team, or there may be a designated HR department you can speak to about any issues you are facing, which you feel are affecting your ability to strike a balance. It’s important to never feel alone – so many workers are parents too and know the struggle. If you don’t wish to speak to other employees, take time out for yourself to read books or articles on the topic, and seek further help if required.


Essentially, being a working parent is hard, of that there is no doubt. But it’s important to know that there is a balance to be found, and it’s just about taking the right steps to ensure that you’re doing both parts well.

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