I went back to work when my daughter was just six weeks old. And although I loved my job, when I dropped her off at her babysitter’s house for the first time, my heart broke a little bit. I worried about the moments I would miss—like her first words or steps—and was sad I wouldn’t be with her 24/7 to soak in every moment with her.
It was an adjustment, and at times I felt guilty for being away from her while I worked, but I vowed to make every moment I had with her count and celebrate every milestone I saw her achieve, even if she had already done it before.
One of the best parts of my work days is seeing how excited my kid gets when I pick her up from daycare. She smiles immediately, runs toward me and gives me a big hug—and these are the moments that are priceless. This is what helps me snap out of work mode, and really focus on creating memories with my daughter.
Being a working parent is hard, and it’s a constant cycle of maintaining balance between your career and spending quality time with your kids. And juggling both can be challenging when the emails swarm in and deadlines approach, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips for achieving a balance.
Make family dinners a priority.
My parents both worked, and one thing they always did that I cherished was sit down and have a family dinner together with my brother and me. We had meaningful conversations, laughs and memories at the dinner table. And I knew that when I had my own children, I wanted to do the same with them.
So, when my husband and I get home from work, we sit down, unwind and engage with our daughter. She’s a toddler, but she still has a lot to say. We listen to her, laugh and celebrate her accomplishments.
It’s a time she looks forward to so much that when we get home she asks for her plate and puts it on the dinner table to spend time with us.
Don’t bring your work home with you if you don’t have to.
Of course, there will be times you may have to bring your work home with you to get something done that is urgent or high-priority, and that is totally OK and understandable. But if you don’t have to, don’t do it. These are precious minutes or hours you could be using to enjoy moments with your children.
So, before you take out the laptop or phone, ask yourself, “Is this something that can wait until work tomorrow?” If it can, then wait until you get to the office the next day.
Your children will only be little for so long. You only have them at home for some 18 years, so make the most of the time you do have—before they’re ready to move out and discover the world for themselves.
Get involved in their morning and evening routines.
Be present in your children’s morning and evening routines before and after work. In the morning—if time allows— after getting ready for the day and helping your kids do the same, sit down and have breakfast together.
Then in the evenings, really make it a point to be an active part of your children’s routines and have them engage in your routines as well. Invite them to cook dinner with you, and after dinner, take part in bedtime routines—like bathtime or tucking them into bed.
One of my child’s bedtime routines that I enjoy the most is reading a book before bed. My daughter will not go to sleep without me reading her a book at night. She loves it, and I love the joy and big smile she gets when I read her a story.
Use your days off for family bonding and adventures.
Plan trips and fun at-home activities to bond with your kids on your days off from work, and really dedicate that time to strengthening your relationship with them.
When I was a kid, our bonding time was often a movie night at home with a film rented from Blockbuster and popcorn. And on the weekends, my parents made sure to take us out to explore the world as a family—whether that be at the beach, the science museum or by going camping.
It’s those moments that have led to me having the strong bond that I have with my parents today.
Go on adventures with your kids and experience new things together. It will bring you closer together, and you’ll create memories they will never forget.