Balancing work and child care can take a toll on your mental health. How do you satisfy your employer and your children while still taking care of yourself? Here are five tips from parenting therapist Clarice Wirkala of North Seattle Therapy & Counseling.
- Just say no. Don’t take on extra work or volunteer projects in addition to your work unless you feel deeply connected to the cause.
- Ask for help. Don’t feel guilty about hiring people to help with cleaning, driving and child care if you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, arrange a child swap with friends, or, if possible, enlist the grandparents. It will deepen your children’s network of people who care about them.
- Strive for efficiency, not perfection. Some people do batch cooking, then freeze it to make meal prep quick and easy, so they can spend more time with their kids. What is efficient for you?
- Don’t compare yourself to other parents. Some parents have more time to volunteer at school or shuttle their kids to activities. Others get more vacation time. What matters is that your kids know you’re there for them, interested in their lives and accept them no matter what.
- Let go of the guilt over not being able to do it all. “All of it” doesn’t really matter anyway. Focus on the atmosphere in the household. Is it warm? Open? Honest? Funny? If so, you’re doing great. If not, go back to your kids and listen to what they have to say.
You have to take care of yourself — whatever that means for you — to be able to take care of your family to the best of your ability.
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Parental leave: What you need to know
How do they do it? Tips from parents with tough jobs