Juggling a career with raising a family may have been uncommon or unheard of in days gone by, but thankfully mums of today have many options available to them to continue their professional lives with the added responsibility of raising a child.
It can be a daunting prospect; integrating a family into your already full life. The good news is, you don’t have to give up your dreams of a career or your dreams of having a family. You can have both. In order to help you, here are some tips to balancing a career with raising a family:
1. Be flexible
Work-life balance is all about being flexible. One way to balance work with family life is to seek out opportunities that will make things easier. For example:
- Approach your employer and ask for flexible working hours to fit in and around your childcare.
- Prioritise your time and schedule. Start with the urgent tasks first.
- Manage your family commitments and work obligations by using an online planning tool or spreadsheet.
- Consider reducing your work hours by taking up Part-Time or Casual work.
- Go back to studying or upskilling while on maternity leave or in the early stages of raising a child.
- Explore your current work or potential workplace’s child care policy or options. Some workplaces are incredibly progressive, with “family-friendly workplaces” popping up around Australia. There are businesses that also offer workplace creches!
- Go with the flow. Having a rigid schedule may have worked for you before, but now that you have a family to raise, one must loosen the reins just a little bit. If you have to take your child to their after school sport or music lesson, take that time to catch up on work emails or to plan out your week ahead. Meal prep for the week while your kids are doing their homework so you have dinner ready to bung into the oven as soon as you get home. Get creative with your time and make it work for you!
2. Seek outside support
Having an outside support network to lean on when you’re torn between handling heavy workloads and family can be a real lifesaver. Whether it’s your parents, a sibling, or an outside childcare service, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Ask your friends or community network (such as North Shore Mums!) for references to babysitters, nannies or daycare services that can reliably look after your child when needed.
Alternatively, if you’re living with your spouse then reach out to them for assistance. Sharing the load mentally and physically will not only save your work productivity but your sanity, too!
A solid partnership at home translates into a happy and successful family life where each member is sharing household responsibilities, creating shared to-do lists, and maintaining open communication.
3. Know your parental rights
Mothers who are employed, either part-time or full-time, are entitled to 18 weeks paid maternity leave and 52 weeks unpaid maternity leave in Australia. This applies to parents of adopted children, too. Parental leave entitlements include:
- Maternity leave
- Paternity/partner leave
- Adoption leave
- The right to return to old job after maternity leave
Employed parents are able to take paid maternity leave if they have been employed by their employer for the last 12 months. Pregnant employees can start their maternity leave up to six weeks before their due date and parents choosing to adopt can take their leave the day of birth/adoption.
If you’re starting a family while you’re working, you are also entitled to benefits including the right to move to a safe job, sick leave and protection from discrimination. Knowing this helps you to navigate your rights and options while balancing work with starting a family.
4. Explore different work options
One of the more positive aspects of the current pandemic is the push toward a more flexible working model. There are so many opportunities to maintain a rewarding career while having a family.
Remote work is one option. Whether you’re a bookkeeper, receptionist, designer, teacher or a makeup artist – you now have an option to work from home.
No matter what line of work you’re in, consider your options to make it more flexible. It’s also never too late to change your career – even when starting a family. Look for jobs that give you more work-life balance such as freelance work or, if you’re in the wellness or makeup field, mobile work or work-from-home options.
The benefits of working remotely is that you can control and choose your own hours. This means you can pursue your career all the while raising and supporting a family – without having to sacrifice one for the other.
Balancing your career with a family can be mutually beneficial. In fact, having a rich, meaningful career can have a flow-on effect on your family life, enriching it even further. Maintaining your career gives you a sense of pride and purpose, and helps you to support your growing family. In contrast, having a family while maintaining a career gives you a full and balanced life and helps you to put things into greater perspective. It could be during this time that you choose to change career paths altogether or explore your other options. No matter what you choose, having a plan and working to a timeline that suits you will create a strong foundation for the future life you envision.