Accelerating your career doesn’t always downshift easily into family time. We at ParentsCanada have spoken to a lot of high achieving moms and dads over the years. Here are some of their tips on how to strike a balance between work and family.
Go with the flow
“Every day could bring a different responsibility, and you have to be willing to really be flexible and realize maybe you’ll miss going to the hockey game with your friends tonight. The trade-off is I get to spend the night at home with my kids, and that’s a wonderful thing, so it’s about keeping it all in perspective.”
Take care of yourself
“We moms make sure our kids get exercise and healthy food, but we don’t make ourselves a priority. It puts us at risk for heart disease and stroke – a leading cause of death in women. I walk my kids to school, take the stairs and do squats with my kids on my back. I joined a moms’ basketball league and I make sure to incorporate more vegetables and lean protein into our meals. We even have ‘Meatless Mondays’ at home so we have a chance to try veggies in new ways. I also do things to make us laugh, like having ‘re-gifting parties’ with my kids to teach them that we can find ways to laugh even when we are disappointed.”
Make family time memorable
“My daughters are teenagers and they like to be active and outside. We enjoy skiing, hiking, white water rafting and most sports. A few years ago I purchased a camper so that we can enjoy getting away and finding unique camping spots to relax and just enjoy nature. We love camping as a family.”
“I think having conversations with your kids is really important. You know, ‘Here’s where I’m going to be and here’s what I’m going to be doing.’ Technology and social media has made it even easier to stay connected with my kids, so we’ll send each other pictures and funny messages. Then, I really try to make up for it when I’m home. It takes a lot of organization, and when I do have to be away for work, I sit down and talk to my kids about that, because I believe a woman can be a mom and a working woman if she chooses to be.”
Take advantage of parental leave
“I was able to see the real growth and development in my newborn – from a baby that tugged on my finger to someone who now pinches my neck fat with his tiny fingers. A lot of parents miss out on all of these little, daily things because they’re at work, so it was truly special to get to bond with him from the get-go. I was also able to spend some quality time with my two-year-old son, Jack. Jack and I went for daily bike rides along the waterfront, we went to a ton of different parks, read a lot of books, played in the dirt… he finally started asking, “daddy do it,” “go on daddy’s shoulders,” and “daddy help me” instead of always turning to my wife. Those are precious words and moments that I loved to experience.”
Eat dinner together
“When I’m not working, we’ll have dinner together almost every night. Usually we make it together, whether the kids are setting the table or stirring. We all feel a part of what we put on the table. There’s such a pride in that and value in the conversation that goes into it. We also talk about turning off the TV, turning off the iPad, eating healthy meals, not getting dessert every time and avoiding fast food.”
Focus on work, or focus on family, but not both
“My wife gave me a very important ‘come to Jesus’ moment that I really needed to hear. I was writing “Trailer Park Boys” and spending a lot of time at home. I was saying to my wife how glad I am to be home and helping out with the kids, and she finally said, ‘I’ll be honest, you’re probably not doing either job to the best of your ability. Designate office hours. When you’re working, work, and it’ll be like you’re not even here. Then when you’re not working, be here.”
This story originally appeared on ParentsCanada.com.
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