On any given day, I can feel awesome and terrible about how I’m performing as a parent and an employee. That’s the truth and now it’s out for the whole world to see!
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way. I want to assure you that it’s ok to feel both (awesome and terrible) about work and parenting.
I heard once that as a working parent you must be a parent as if you don’t have a job and work as though you don’t have kids. That’s impossible! (Trust me, I’ve tried!) In order to be successful in both worlds, we need to be able to acknowledge that both exist and not apologize if we’re feeling awesome or terrible at either.
I’m lucky to have had three beautiful kids in the last seven years while also moving up in my career. Growing your career and family at the same time can feel like you’re watering two gardens with an empty watering can. Perfection is impossible—once we accept that, we can enjoy the times we really feel like we’re nailing it. And, we can forgive ourselves when we feel we let the ball drop in either area. One way I combatted the working parent guilt is by talking to my children about my job and showing them the pride I have in my work. I want to show my kids that when you get to do a job you enjoy, it doesn’t always feel like work. This doesn’t mean every day is perfect, but I try to show my kids the sense of joy and accomplishment I feel from my career. I noticed that being a working parent has impacted how my children play—they pretend to go to work and leave their dolls with grandma (me). By showing them it’s healthy to have working parents, I’ve been able to put those feelings of guilt aside.
Involving my manager and peers in my family world also helps me feel connected to my family when I’m not there. If my coworkers and manager didn’t know anything about my three children, they wouldn’t know the real me. I share the fun times, the sleep deprived times, and the moments where I want to pull my hair out. Progressive encourages me to bring my whole self to work, and sometimes that means showing my coworkers how important my family is to me.
Work/life balance is just that, a balance, and it’s something you need to work on every day. That can mean taking that day off for time with your family instead of letting it build up for an unknown future need. It’s meant to be used! It can also mean joining that project at work that might take up extra hours but will help develop your skills and further your career.
If you have a bad day, as a parent or an employee, forgive yourself. Laugh when you forget to dress your kid in whatever school theme day is going on. Put that performance review on your fridge proudly. Love your job, love your kids, and be free to feel awesome and terrible at the same time!