If you’re a parent who’s opted to carry on working while raising your children, you might have made that decision because you didn’t want to interrupt your career or maybe you have the type of career path where a gap could be really difficult for you later. Or maybe your financial situation gave you no choice. We’ve all been there.

Being a parent who works full time isn’t easy. Balancing work and family can be tricky at first, but it’s ultimately rewarding when you’ve figured it out. The key is to decide your own personal bottom line. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What am I aiming for at work? Just a steady pay check, a rise, a promotion?
  • What does “too much work” look like to me? When will my work have a bad impact on my kids and how can I prepare so that this doesn’t happen? How can I manage the expectations of my colleagues and boss?
  • What does balance mean to me, for instance, getting home at a certain time every night? Being able to attend my kid’s practice?

Of course, you don’t have to physically be there 100% of the time. Just small moments of precious time like a weekly dinner together or a family board game night can make the world of difference to your child. You don’t want to be such a workaholic that you don’t know what’s going on in their life – school, friends, what they like and hate at the moment; time together lets them know that you pay attention to them.

Once you’ve decided in advance how you want to handle work and home life – and if you have a boss you can discuss this with, so much the better – it’s time to get uber-organized. Identify and mark in your diary and calendar all the dates that are important to you: birthdays, holidays, school functions, school evenings for parents’ – all the times you need and want to be present. If you have a lot of control over your workload, then you’ll find it so much easier to arrange but we’re the first to admit that if you work in seasonal sectors or if you don’t have much control over your workload, it’s not so easy. Communication at work is vital for whatever you’re aiming for.

Taking the time to schedule a one-on-one weekend date when you normally work would be exciting for your child. Or try surprising your child with a loving sticky note in their lunchbox to show them you care and help you connect with them even if you can’t be with them.

These are only a few ways of managing home and work life. How do you balance being a parent as well as a full time worker? Share the ways that you work that magic!