How to balance parenthood with career progression
For many working parents, raising a family combined with pursuing their career can be a real struggle and working in the legal sector, with its traditional values and long hours, can make achieving a balance even more difficult. Shared parental leave means it’s now possible for either parent to take time off to care for their child, but once everyone’s back at work there are still likely to be worries around childcare, money, time and career progression.
Here are out top tips for achieving a better work-life balance:
Banish the guilt
Guilt is something most working parents struggle with, whether it’s feeling guilty for wanting a career, rather than choosing to concentrate entirely on their family, or feeling guilty for leaving on time when colleagues are still working. Try your best to banish guilt from your life – it doesn’t help anyone. Investing in your career will help you to give your family a stable life and more opportunities, as well as setting a good example for your children, and workers who leave earlier tend to be far more productive during the day.
Ask for help
We all need help at times and being a working parent makes it simply impossible for you to do everything alone. Using your partner, family members, friends and fellow parents to help spread the load and share responsibilities can make a huge difference to your quality of life.
You’ll almost certainly need to pay for childcare, but if you can afford it, outsourcing cleaning, shopping, ironing and gardening can also give you more time to spend at work or with your family. It’s also worth looking to see if there are any support groups for professional working parents in your area, such as the Association of Professional Working Parents.
Any working parent will tell you that one of the key elements to maintaining a work-life balance is to stay organised. Planning as much as possible in advance, both at work and at home, will help make sure you don’t miss important events in your child’s life but also keep on top of deadlines.
Travel time is ideal for planning the day ahead and setting boundaries for work and family time will help you to get the most out of both. Don’t forget to plan time for yourself – a gym session is much more likely to happen if you plan it in advance.
One of the most important ways of preserving your work-life balance is to stick to the limits you’ve agreed, both with your employer and with yourself. If you’ve worked hard all day to get your tasks done, don’t stay a second past your working hours. And don’t be afraid of saying no – if you can’t do something, you can’t do it and there’s no point feeling bad about it.
Explore flexible working
Legal employers are becoming increasingly open to flexible working as demand continues to increase and they have to remain competitive to attract talent. You have the right to request flexible working, whether that is a part-time role, reduced hours or increased home working. Be upfront with your employer about what you need to make things work. If you don’t ask, you won’t get and it’s important to establish what is and isn’t possible early on.
If you do have a flexible working arrangement, it’s important to set clear targets and expectations for your role and to keep in regular contact with your colleagues and manager.
Remember your other options
If your employer is unable or unwilling to make the changes to your working pattern you need, then they’re probably not the best fit for you right now. You could move to a more family-friendly firm, explore different branches of the law or join the increasing number of lawyers working on a freelance basis.
If you’d like some advice on the options available to you, get in touch with us on 0333 370 46 16 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, don’t chase perfection
It’s easy to look at other working parents with shining careers and happy families and assume their life is flawless, but chasing perfection will just lead to you burning out. Only you can decide what’s right for you and your family, so don’t worry about anyone else’s opinion.
It’s okay to drop some balls and do some things less well than usual when you’re busy. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but concentrate instead on the things that last, whether it’s quality time spent with your family or finishing a project that’s going to boost your career.