The first installment of this series introduced the idea that "working parent" is a phrase of resignation. With that choice of words, we give up the idea that we can be passionate about both work and family. We resign ourselves to a life in which we can only really be good at one thing. Instead, if we choose to think of ourselves as "career-loving parents," we open up whole new worlds of possibilities for our families, for our careers, and for ourselves. In this installment, we'll look at the many work-life options available to today's career-loving parents.
Before we jump into work options, let's have a quick review of what it takes to be a career-loving parent -- a term I stole from Sheryl Sandberg, who stole it from Caroline O'Connor. While simply changing the words we use makes a big difference in the possibilities we perceive, it also helps to take some concrete steps to integrate our lives as parents with our lives as workers. Here are those steps:
- Know your work-life style. Do you like to integrate work with the rest of your life, separate work from the rest of your life, or do you like to switch focus back and forth as needed? We covered this in the second article, so jump over to that one if you haven't read it yet.
- Know your work-life options. In today's world of work, there are more choices than just working outside the home or staying home with the family.
- Get smart. Regardless of your work-life style and your particular work arrangement, you can make the most of your circumstances with a few simple tricks.
Know your options for when, where, and how you work
Today's world of work is filled with more options than ever before. Thanks to evolving technology, shifting expectations, and research that proves great work can be done in a host of times, places, and styles, anyone with reliable access to a computer, the internet, and a strong work ethic (don't forget that one) can design a career to fit his life -- and a life to fit his career.
Of course, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. You might trade stability of income for flexibility of schedule, or time with family for benefits that take care of them. Whichever option you choose, make it consciously. Consult with both your family and your coworkers. Weigh the tradeoffs mindfully. If you're having trouble figuring out which option is best, though, see if you can arrange some controlled experiments.
If you're having trouble figuring out which option is best, though, see if you can arrange some controlled experiments. Maybe your current full-time, out-of-the-house job is willing to try one work-from-home day weekly. Or maybe you can try working on your home-based business from a co-working space while the kids are at school. Don't fall into the trap of believing that these are your only options -- or that you can only choose one. Instead, think of the table below as a palette from which you can choose one, two, or many colors for your portrait of the ideal career-loving parent.
Are there more options than you thought? Are you already thinking of ways you can creatively combine or experiment with these options to design a meaningful, fun, and fulfilling life? Share your story of being -- or aspiring to be -- a career-loving parent in the comments below. Other readers would love to hear from you!
Oh, and come on back next week when we'll dive into the "get smart" step of becoming a career-loving parent, in which we refine what we've learned from the first two steps for the difference that makes a difference.
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