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If You’re a Working Parent, You’d Better Start Thinking About This NOW

March 7, 2016
by Susan Shain
Contributor

When most people think of a “working parent,” they probably picture a mother or father bringing their kids to school or daycare, rushing off to work, trying to get them to eat their vegetables and then collapsing on the couch at 9 p.m.

At least, that’s how I picture it.

I know I want kids (though I’m not sure why, now that I’m re-reading that introduction), so I’ve given a lot of thought to being a working mother — and its challenges.

I’ve worked hard to build my writing career, in hopes it’ll allow me some flexibility during those early years of parenting.

What I never thought about until now? The day my (non-existent) adorable little ones become hormonal, insane, growing teenagers.

You may think you’re out of the woods once your kids are in school, but some parents say that’s far from the truth.

Here’s what I mean…

The Roadblock Some Working Parents Haven’t Thought Of

“For many parents, it’s teenagers — not babies or toddlers — that pose even bigger challenges to navigating career and family,” writes Reva Seth for Fast Company.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, New America Foundation CEO and president and author of the famous article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” agrees.

Toddlers just hand you an empty juice box to get rid of, but teenagers hand you an emotional package to deal with,” she says.

So, what’s a working parent to do?

Seth is preparing by following the same steps advised to new parents: Find ways to create flexibility in your work, and establish a network of family and friends to act as backup.

Perhaps more importantly, Seth is also making efforts to change workplace culture by destroying the chimera of the “ideal worker.”

And she asks you to do the same.

“Stop imagining — and letting others imagine or unfairly expect — that successfully balancing a career and family life can be done without making bigger changes to the way we work,” she writes.

“Support a colleague who needs to work from home,” Seth writes. “Call into a meeting instead of commuting, and don’t forget that that school play or softball game is as important as any client dinner.”

Not all of us have the flexibility to make those kinds of career choices, but we can all do our part by supporting the working parents in our lives, and continuing to bring work-life balance into the national conversation.

And if you’ve got little ones underfoot, start preparing for the day when they’ll gain angst and an attitude.

… Because if your kids turn out anything like my teenage self, you’re going to wish for the days of toddler tantrums and dirty diapers.

Your Turn: Have you thought about what will happen when your kids become teenagers?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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