Guest post by: Steve Waller
Trying to hold down a demanding career and juggle family life at the same time is a situation that parents have found themselves in for what seems like forever. In times gone by it was more acceptable for the mother to be responsible for raising the children while the father went off to work, often very long hours, to put food on the table. In this day and age, however, both parents often want the chance to build strong bonds with their children regardless of when and how long they work. If you find yourself in this position, there are a few ways in which you can get the most out the time you do have.
- Try To Be Present For At Least One Meal Each DayMeal times are important in the life of a child, they are waypoints in a daily routine that help to control their expectations and behaviour. Every young child, for example, soon comes to realise that the evening meal is followed shortly after by bed time and so they mentally prepare for this. Therefore being present at as many meal times as possible allows you to tap into this subconscious routine and cement yourself into their everyday life.
Since kids are quite often early to rise and early to bed, breakfast is probably a more popular choice than the evening meal when it comes to choosing when to be present but it depends on your own working hours.
- Make Time For Important OccasionsAmong the routine of daily life, children pay special attention to big events such as their birthdays or school plays and these are important occasions for parent-child bonding too. These events are often likely to ingrain themselves in the child’s memory for a much longer period than regular activities so whenever possible you need to be able to get time off from your work to attend.
By stern and even forceful when speaking to your boss and with any luck they’ll understand and permit you to take some leave. It doesn’t always have to be an entire day, leaving a few hours early to be there are your child’s carol concert is not going to do too much harm at work.
- Use Phones If You Have ToWhen kids get to a certain age it is possible to use telephones to maintain some form of contact during your work days. If you have speaker phone or even video calling then even better but just being able to hear your voice on a daily basis helps form a stronger bond. The conversations will normally be about their day, what they did at school or what they had for dinner but if you aren’t going to be there when they go to bed, a quick phone call is the next best thing.
- Treasure Your Days OffWhether you work a regular Monday to Friday shift or not, you are bound to have one or two days off each week and it is these days that really count in building up that bond with your child. Don’t allow such days to fall into their routine, make them exciting days, days to remember and days to have as much fun as possible. Take them to the zoo, to the beach or to a fair ground and don’t drive there, go by train if possible – kids love trains and it gives you even more time to focus on them rather than the road.
- Take At Least One Family Holiday A YearThere are few better times to bond with your child then on a nice family holiday so make sure you keep enough of your allotted days off back to cover at least one getaway each year. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but going away is a big thing for a kid; they get to experience new places, new things and new people and if you think back to your own childhood it is likely that memories from holidays are some of the strongest.
Make a big thing about the holiday. Count down the days beforehand to build the excitement, take lots of photos while on it, enjoy every second come rain or shine and try your best to make the holiday the happiest time possible.
I hope that you have found some of these tips useful and that they can help you maintain that all important balance between providing for your family and spending time with them.
Guest post by Steve Waller, writer on work, careers and job placements at Job Centre Vacancies.