No one wants to raise their kids in penury, and every parent’s dream is to be able to give their kids what they need and when they need it. One of the many joys of parenthood is seeing that your child(ren) want for nothing and can easily walk up to you when they are lacking with the assurance that you will provide for them.
Another joy of parenthood is being there for your child all the time; being there when they take their first step, when they burst into peals of laughter or when they form their first words: ma-ma and da-da. Parents want to hold their babies close to their heart when they start whining, cradle them when they are restless, tell them bed-time stories and kiss them goodnight.
Unfortunately, wishes are not horses and things don’t always turn out exactly the way we envisage. Inasmuch as we want to always meet the financial needs of all our kids, we also recognise that we have to work for this. After all, person wey no work no go fit chop. It is at this point that parents battle with internal conflict and guilt.
“If I leave home for work by 6am and get back 8pm, won’t I be neglecting my kids?”
On the other hand, not working means that you cannot give your kids ‘the world’ even after making a vow to yourself that your kids will lack nothing. How then do you balance being there for your kids and providing for their financial – and every other – needs?
When it comes to parenting, there is no one-cap-fits-all manual. Every parent has to work in order to provide for their children and in today’s economy, many parents have to work twice as hard. This means that some parents have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet.
It also means that the time a parent will spend with their kids will reduce – sometimes drastically. To worsen it all, many parents leave the home before their kids wake up in the morning and then come back when their kids have gone to sleep.
To make up for the time lost and placate the overwhelming feeling of guilt, parents tend to overindulge their kids and give them whatever they want during the weekends. And shey you see these kids? They are wise! Many of them have noticed this and seized the opportunity to misbehave whenever their parents are around.
We know being there for your kids while working and climbing the career/entrepreneurship ladder can be a dilemma sometimes, so here are a few tips to help you:
Work or being a stay-home parent? Choose one
Before having kids (or even after), you have to decide if you want to commit to taking care of them fully and all the time, or if you are going to work. You can also choose to work and still take care of your kids. Whatever decision you make should be well thought out and it should be one you are comfortable with. If you have chosen to be a stay-home parent, own it with your chest. If you have chosen to maintain/or start a new career, then you have to put certain things in place: are you hiring a nanny? How many nannies? Or are you taking your baby to a daycare center? Who are you leaving the baby with? Is that person capable enough? Ensure you put in place sufficient plans for your child.
If you have also chosen to continue your career and take care of your kids too, then you need to prepare yourself for the task ahead – mentally, psychologically and physically. Let’s be frank, juggling your career and taking care of your kids can get very tedious. What this requires is: you waking up very early in the morning to make their meals and get them prepared for school, driving them to school before going to work. Then you pick them from school when you leave work, take them through their homework, prepare them for the next day, and so on.
Remember that whatever decision you take will be for a long time (unless, of course, you change your mind), so choose wisely.
Work as a team
If you have a spouse who is available and willing, then you don’t have to do this alone. Talk this through with your spouse. Both of you will make decisions that will be beneficial to either your career or family – or both. A lot of parents, especially mothers, have the habit of doing things alone until they eventually break down. You’re not a superman/woman, ask for help.
Take excuse on special occasions
We know you cannot be with your kids all the time, but it is important to make special occasions ‘special’ for them, especially in school. If you can, take time off work to attend your child’s PTA meeting, Open-Day, Sports or drama day (especially if your child is participating). Your presence will make a whole lot of difference. Work is important, but it is more important not to lose sight of the bigger picture – your children.
Makeup on holidays
Make weekends and holidays special for your kids. Now, this is not a call for you to overindulge them or spoil them silly because you have been feeling guilty about not spending enough time with them. This is just for you to make up for the time lost, ensure you bond better with your kids and catch up on all the activities you have missed. One way to do this is to have ‘family time’: you can go out on a picnic, tell moonlight stories, talk about their academic struggles, talk about their life struggles (you will be shocked at some of the things they say) paint together, cook together and so on. Just ensure that you do not lose that parent-child connection and love.
Take care of yourself
You cannot give what you don’t have. The love and tenderness that pours out of you can only come from a fountain of inner love, joy, and peace. If you are cranky and grumpy all the time, it will rub off on your kids. So if you want to balance work and kids, you have to give room for your physical and mental wellbeing too.
So parents in the house, over to you. How do you balance work and kids?