As parents, we have our own stories of schedules and responsibilities to juggle. At times, it can feel overwhelming.
As a working parent, there are a few things that I wished I appreciated earlier:
- Guilt: There will always be some amount of guilt when you have to take your child to the doctor’s instead of going into the office, or when family time gets shrunk due to work related pressures. On and off, guilt comes as a ghost to question our choices or remind us of how imperfect we are. Instead of turning those moments into an “see, you can’t do it all”, think of yourself as your best friend and share those words of encouragement that your best friend would have heard from you.
- Stress: If you find yourself stressed, identify what is causing it and whether you can rewrite the script. Is it the work itself or is it about setting some unrealistic expectations?
- The work-induced stress: A few years back, it felt like I had the world over my shoulders. One morning when I dropped off my child to daycare, a simple “Have a great day” from one of the teachers initiated a whole dialogue in my mind. “If she knew how hard and stressful my work is, she would not say that to me”. Every morning, hearing that simple greeting started eroding the previously held belief that I can’t enjoy my work because it’s so stressful. If you find yourself in this situation, challenge yourself to look at the different aspects of your day with increased appreciation. It could be the joy of learning something new or attending a training that would enhance your skills.
- The self-induced stress: We are good at to-do lists. However, it is self defeating to assess the success and productivity of a day based solely on achieving all that was initially planned. This is because our to-do list might be twice longer than what can reasonably be accomplished in a single day, or because complexities arise pushing out initial timelines. Continuously setting realistic expectations and allowing for interruptions are key to manage stress.
- Imposter syndrome: We are facing our own fears as we are called to take on expanded profession-related responsibilities. Despite being pulled in all directions, we still need to keep it all together. If that’s how you feel right now, remind yourself that this is a common feeling when you are in fact growing. In other words, you are already rocking it!
- Support system: If you are trying to “do it all”, you might be finding yourself more sleep deprived than others. For every family, the definition of the support system may look differently. What looks like the perfect solution for you and your family could be unfeasible or undesirable for someone else.
- Purpose: It is easy to see how we can’t measure up to perfection. However, if despite sleepless night(s), or any other manifestation of your imperfect “do it all”, you are finding yourself enthusiastically glued to your computer, research paper or anything else, profession-related, that likely means you are walking in your purpose. Find the strength to continue and embrace your purpose and potential, knowing you are meant and equipped for this exact journey.
- Values: The struggle of “doing it all” brings to surface the ways we may seem to be failing at times at home or at work. However, those same ways can be opportunities to share or instill values, teach strengths, and inspire. You are likely teaching your child the value of discipline and hard work, of being afraid but still trying, or you may be an informal or formal mentor for future parents to be. Communicate intentionally such that your story is not one of daily grind, but of impact and inspiration.
For those who tend to carry the burden of the “do it all”, there is immense power and relief in knowing that our story is not an isolated one. On the contrary, it is one shared by many. There will be times when we feel like we have failed short and that is all right and part of the journey.