Parenting in the fast lane

Is your working life eating into the amount of time and energy you spend with your kids?

If you are the major breadwinner in your family, chances are your work often erodes into quality family time.

Opportunities to just "be" with your kids or to attend an event, which is important in their lives - and yours, are not always possible. Activities which could include a the creche Christmas party, a school play, a sports match, father and son day, or a mother and daughter camp are all "extras" on what is probably an already overloaded plate.

Trying to re-arrange your week or defer a work trip which clashes with a VIP activity isn't always possible.

Sometimes the flexibility in your working life just isn't there.

As an uber-multi-tasker I always try to be there for my son on special occasions. However to be honest, sometimes I don’t do either of us any favours when I try to accommodate everyone's needs and don't do it very well. Arriving a stressed mess, while other parents are calmly waiting for an event to begin is not a good 'look".

More recently I have had to remind myself on the realities of being a modern mum and a breadwinner whose salary is needed to help pay for the roof over our heads and the food on the table. I have made changes to provide chunks of time in my working week to make sure I can "be there" for my son. However the compromise, is I also need to work several evenings each week.

Like every other working mum or dad, I have had to play with my working life to make it better meet my needs as a parent.

Bruce Robinson author of Fathering in the Fast Lane (Finch) recommends using some of the following tips to help both parents reduce the impact of work on time to chill with the kids.

Pick one of these tips to action each week and schedule it into your diary.

  • Loosen up the concept of time and working schedules to allow more flexibility.
  • It is possible by "changing the shape" of your time, to create extra time for the children with out necessarily losing any work time.
  • Start work later once or twice a week and do things with the kids instead.
  • Use travelling in the car with them as a chance to talk.
  • Make sure the children feel they have better access to you at work than anyone else does.
  • Make "holes in your day" to get to their school for special events, especially if the kids realise you are missing out on something important at work.
  • Phone or e-mail the children from work with a brief message to let them know you are thinking of them.
  • Involve the children in your working environment - take them there, introduce them to your colleagues.
  • Tell the children about your work.
  • Attend some of their school camps
  • Make sure you are available to them at crisis times - don’t' leave all that to the other parent.
  • Do regular canteen duty at school.
  • Pick them up from school when you can.