Work-life balance tips for new parents
Being able to prioritize not only your work, but the other important things in your life like your family, social life and other commitments is a key element of having a healthy work-life balance. Having a well-balanced family life helps you enjoy life, manage stress and prevent burnout at work.
Balancing between a busy work schedule and your personal life is no easy task. Throw in a new baby into the mix and the struggle is real. While most people recognise that being able to maintain this delicate balance results in an increased capacity for both mental and emotional energy to dedicate to their work and families, the busy demands of today make it increasingly difficult to achieve.
New parents are particularly susceptible as they find their entire worlds have shifted. Sleep deprived, overwhelmed and with a sudden reduction in their free time, being a new parent is incredibly challenging and demanding. While there’s no one right way to look after a baby, there are various things you can do to help reduce the stress of new parenthood and improve your work-life balance.
1 - Recognise balance doesn’t mean equal time
One of the first notions new parents need to let go off, is the belief that they need to split their time equally between their career and children in order to achieve a balance. There will be times when your job demands more of your energy and times when your family needs you to prioritise them. Instead of thinking about splitting your time equally, focus on remaining flexible. Evaluate how things are going and where you need to refocus your attention and continue to do so on a regular basis.
2 - Find a support system
Foreign workers account for over 85% of Qatar’s population, meaning that while the country may be diverse, many young parents may find themselves away from their families and traditional support units. It’s essential for new parents to find an alternative support system, whether by relying on their friends, neighbours or other new parents. We all need a helping hand once in a while, and recognising that we don’t have to do everything alone is a tremendous mental load off.
Be sure to involve your partner. When schedules are tight, divide the house chores and take turns to care for the baby. You could decide to share the midnight feeds or swap shifts every other night depending on your personal preference.
3 - Let go of the guilt
There’s a lot of pressure on parents to be perfect, to know what they’re doing and to make no mistakes. Thanks to a carefully-curated feed of perfection, we’re bombarded with information about how many hours our child should be sleeping, when we should start sleep training, what to consume from pregnancy to breastfeeding, whether you should breastfeed or when to resume work. Nothing is ever good enough and the stress of achieving perfection can be overwhelming.
An important part of finding balance is by letting go of the guilt and pressure of meeting every impossible standard. Many parents feel guilty for choosing to work while raising their children, particularly mothers, and it’s easy to let the guilt swallow you. However, new parents should recognise that being able to provide for their families and offer them stability is an important part and should shift their thinking to incorporate the bigger picture.
4 - Discuss your options with work
It may be possible to adjust your work arrangements and speak with your employer for a more family-friendly set up. You could consider shifting your working hours around your newborn’s schedule, later starts perhaps to allow for the disrupted sleeping schedule. Another option could be reducing your hours or working from home a few days a week to help you manage your schedule. Most workplaces are understanding and have great parental leave and family policies in place to support parents.
Some things to consider ahead of speaking with your manager that could support your discussion:
- Consider any issues that may arise or any reservations your employer may have and try to think of solutions you can propose to alleviate that concern or problem
- Propose a way to hold you accountable for your work if you’re requesting different hours or remote work.
- Consult with your colleagues regarding their family-friendly arrangements and see what they’re doing or what’s working for them and if you can be offered the same.
- Suggest an evaluation of the new arrangements in a few months or a trial period
5 - Remember to prioritize yourself
Trying to find that elusive balance is no walk in the park. There will be days when you’ll be struggling to keep things afloat, and often when attempting to prioritise all the other things in your life, you’ll overlook yourself. Sometimes new parents try to catch up on other chores, work, household, family commitments and pressing social engagements - and end up neglecting to prioritize themselves.
As busy and demanding as your schedule is, make sure you take time to check in on yourself too. Find ways to block out a few hours for yourself, whether to catch up on some much needed sleep, pamper yourself so you feel like your old self or reconnect with an older part of your life pre-children.
Do you have any other recommendations for struggling new parents? Let us know in the comments
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Cover Image Credits: Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema
Inline Image Credits: Unsplash