Juggling childrearing responsibilities with the demands of work takes a toll on many parents' personal and professional lives. For many families, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and meet everyone's needs.
While managing a career and family leaves some parents feeling guilty and frazzled, others seem to be able to effortlessly balance parenthood with full-time work. Parents who are able to raise well-adjusted children while also maintaining a career make sacrifices to keep the peace. Here are the five things many parents give up to achieve a successful work-life balance:
1. Their Pride Over Asking for Help.
Even in today's world, it takes a village to raise a child. Asking for help requires humility, but seeking support can be one of the biggest keys to success. This is especially true for single parents.
Successful parents don't necessarily depend on others, but are often willing to trade favors. For example, they may ask for help driving the kids to soccer practice in exchange for taking over weekend carpool duties for other busy families. When parents arrange for assistance that ensures their kids are being cared for, they're able to be more productive at the office.
2. The Belief That They Need to Split Their Time Equally.
Achieving a balance between career and children doesn't necessarily mean the time is split evenly. Successful parents understand there will be times when their family will need more attention and times when a career will demand more energy.
They don't try to divide their time up fairly. Instead, they remain flexible. They evaluate their progress and determine where they need to devote their attention on a regular basis. When their work-life balance seems off-kilter, they readjust to meet the demand.
3. The Idea That They Have to Neglect Themselves.
There's a reason why airlines say, "In the event of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting those around you." If you don't take care of yourself first, you won't have anything left to give. When you're feeling overtired and stretched too thin, it may seem incomprehensible to squeeze in a little "me time." But, the times when you feel like you can't possibly spare a minute for yourself, are likely the times when you need "me time" the most.
Successful parents know that taking care of themselves improves their efficiency and productivity over the long-term. Although it's important to get plenty of sleep and relaxation, exercise may be even more important. Engaging in daily physical activity won't only improve your health, but it can also be the key to maintaining a balance between home and work, according to a 2014 research study published in Human Resource Management.
4. The Desire to Always Make Their Kids Happy.
Parents who achieve a successful work-life balance don't live and breathe to make their kids happy. Instead, they strive to raise independent children that will grow to become responsible adults.
They're willing to ask kids to help out around the house. They assign chores and teach responsibility without nagging or yelling. They establish clear consequences and aren't afraid to follow through with them. They role model hard work and allow their children to experience disappointment.
5. The Guilt They Experience About Working.
Many parents would rather not work full-time, but for many families, that just isn't financially feasible. About 44 percent of full-time working mothers report their ideal situation would be to work part-time, according a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. Making children a priority sometimes means working hard to meet children's needs.
Parents who successfully balance their work and home life, don't waste time and energy on guilt over the fact that they're working. Instead, they either work on a plan to solve the problem -- like work flexible hours -- or they accept that they'll need to maintain a full-time job while raising children.
Successful parents focus their spare time and energy on raising their children -- not wishing they didn't have to work. They know that the quality -- and not necessarily the quantity -- of time they spend together is most important.
Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and an internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do provides strategies that can help you avoid the common pitfalls that hold us back in life, as well as exercises to build mental strength.