One thing we come across regularly in our coaching sessions with high-powered, successful professionals in Silicon Valley is that they care.
They care incredibly about their children but often feel unsatisfied about the role they’re taking on as a parent. But perhaps most profoundly …
They feel guilty.
If you’re juggling being a working parent and a successful business leader, we predict, like many of our clients, you have a common concern when it comes to your work-life balance:
You never seem to have enough time and wish you could spend more of it with your kids.
Professional pressures are a common obstacle between you and spending quality time with your family.
Part and parcel of why we deliver strategies to help manage your time with heightened intentionality and efficiency – giving you back massive hours every week so you can become more involved with your family life.
What Does Parental Burnout Look Like?
Parental burnout is a genuine concern for any working parent, especially those navigating high-powered careers.
Constantly juggling professional responsibilities and family life can take a severe mental and physical toll. These create a unique set of pressures that can impact personal well-being and the dynamics within your family unit.
Parental burnout presents itself in several ways.
Some indicators include constant exhaustion, emotional distance, increased irritability, lack of enjoyment, neglect of mindfulness, and a feeling of immovable overwhelm.
Suppose you are dealing with parental burnout or simply struggling with balancing your children’s needs as a professional working parent. In that case, we hope this article will help you find pragmatic solutions for tipping the scales in your family’s favor for a far superior work-life balance.
How Can I Be a Successful Working Parent?
In our experience coaching hundreds of professionals, we’ve observed with our clients that spending time with their children is ultimately a choice.
Granted, at times, it is a very difficult choice to make. Yet, among successful professionals, it’s often a decision largely influenced by lifestyle choices – your need to make a certain amount of money or maintain a specific type of reputation in the professional world.
Your lifestyle choices and quality of time spent with your kids are all areas you can change to improve your work-life balance as a working parent.
If you’ve chosen that spending real, relevant time with your children is important to you, then this article is written for you.
Make the Time You Have Count
At Mindmaven, we believe all the best things in life, including our success, stem from our relationships.
In fact, we work with clients on how to manage and prioritize their relationships in such a way that drives their success.
As relationship management experts, we focus on the connections that are most important. In Silicon Valley, we’ve found that inevitably leads to family.
Family is the foundation for emotional support and strength needed to help us handle difficult situations wherever they arise – including professional challenges.
Keeping a good work-life balance and deciding that the main objective for your relationship management is to focus on your family is a no-brainer.
Like most, you’ve probably experienced periods of professional pressure where your life simply doesn’t afford you the luxury of extra time with your children. During those periods, it’s vital to make the most of the time you have with them.
How To Be More Present as a Working Parent
One of the biggest mistakes a working parent can (and often does) make with their kids is the tendency to drift off toward other responsibilities rather than be fully engaged. They check their emails, start mentally problem-solving, and try to develop new introduction ideas.
As any working parent will know, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about work when you are meant to be focusing on your family.
Children crave your presence, not only physically but mentally as well. So, if you’re drifting off when you’re with them, they notice.
Kids are incredibly perceptive little individuals, and they can almost instantly sense the slightest shift in vibe when you’re with them.
Physically, it’s easy to be present. Being present mentally can be far more challenging because we’re used to trying to multi-task.
Here’s a secret: Multi-tasking in the brain isn’t really possible. You can’t do it. That’s why texting and driving is considered impaired driving. So, when you try to do it while spending time with your children, that time also becomes impaired.
If you truly want to be present, the following simple tips and methods can help you fully focus on what matters: Your relationship with your family.
5 Coming-Home Rituals for Working Parents
One of the most powerful things you can do as a working parent is develop rituals around coming home. This holds true whether you’re returning from a day at the office or simply closing your laptop as a hybrid or remote worker.
Not only do having these rituals help you prepare yourself to block out distractions, but they also serve as a welcome reminder that your children are waiting to see you.
Your coming home rituals can have several phases or aspects to them. You just need to find the right mix of what works for you. Here are a few we recommend every working parent consider:
1. Find your threshold
What we mean by threshold is to find a physical landmark or personal trigger point to signal the transition into “being home.”
For people in South Bay, especially VCs, it might be crossing Highway 280 to Portola Valley or Woodside. If you’re working in downtown San Francisco, there’s probably a bridge or major intersection you always cross on your way home.
For hybrid and remote workers, this could be logging out of work applications or shutting down the computer.
Both are triggers to begin your ritual:
Once you reach that point, mentally let go of any business-related thoughts and start thinking about your family.
Wrap up the day’s business thoughts and begin thinking about what you will do with your kids and spouse.
Start getting excited about reconnecting with the people for whom you care so much about. You’ll be thrilled to spend time with them, almost to the point where you’re getting giddy at the thought of joining them for the evening.
It might take some effort to stop mentally working at first. But if you let those thoughts condition your mind, the process takes hold quite fast.
It may sound a little funky, but it truly does work. Try it once or twice, and be aware of the difference it makes.
2. Getting out of the work mindset
As you arrive home or finish your remote workday, start removing any triggers that could pull your mind away from being present.
A very simple thing is to turn off your phone. Don’t just put it on silent or vibrate – turn it completely off.
Take a deep breath and relax your body. Quickly survey how your body feels and try to release any physical tension. If it takes a little longer to relax, take as many breaths as you need to feel a sense of calm before you open the car door or leave your home office.
Those who have learned to do this and practice it regularly report it getting incrementally easier each time it’s performed. This lets you fully relax and get ready to join your family.
3. Entering the home space
Now, you’re ready to pass through the door to your family. Think of your door (whether it’s your house or home office door) as a portal.
This is your Rubicon.
The moment you pass through it, you are committing to being present at home.
Be present…be present…be present.
Try to make it a habit. You’ll find that spending more time thinking about being present is sometimes all it takes to achieve your goal.
It’s a simple mind hack, but it’s also a very powerful one.
4. Greeting your family
Don’t be nonchalant about coming home or being able to be fully present with your family. Make it a habit to celebrate your arrival and excitement to see your family.
Don’t just ask, “What’s up?” or give a simple “Hello.” Greet each one of your family members in a meaningful and heartfelt way.
A trick here is to greet the children and then go to your spouse and give them a hug. Let that hug linger longer than a “normal” greeting hug. Make it matter. Use it to let your spouse know, “I’m here now, and I care about you.”
5. Being present at home
Now that your phone is off and you’ve joined your family, put it in a place to charge where it’s not visible or easily accessible.
Tell yourself you will only turn your phone on when your kids are in bed or much later in the evening than when you arrive home or leave your home office.
Turning it off and placing it where it won’t be a mental intrusion will now require extreme willpower and a conscious decision not to access it. Don’t worry; it will still be there later.
Now, use that time and spend it with your children. Do activities that they enjoy doing and do them enthusiastically.
Be attuned to your children’s laughter. Help them solve their homework. Be available for real conversation. They’ll usually guide you in determining what they need and what’s important to them.
Tell yourself that it’s OK to not think about work. Enjoying time spent with your children is not to elicit any feelings of guilt. In fact, we’re sure it will be quite the opposite.
One Thing Every Working Parent Needs To Hear
While setting these goals is important, consistently achieving them can be difficult.
One piece of advice here is to set yourself up for victory rather than paving a path toward defeat.
With business events or other commitments, it might be unrealistic to expect yourself to do this every night of the work week. Commit to your rituals on nights when you can be home.
Don’t try to be perfect. There will be times when you will fail. Learn to accept failure as part of your efforts, and you’ll likely achieve success more often than not – and the rewards will be truly invaluable.
If you try any of these techniques, please tell us about your experiences at [email protected]. We are eager to hear how they work for you!
Explore Our Resources To Free Up Massive Time and Strengthen Your Relationships
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We’re confident you’ll find the resources to lead you to a far happier, more successful, and more fulfilling life.