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Double Shift

The addition of a child into any situation will cause a stir. If you weren’t busy enough before having a child, any empty time slots will be filled once a baby arrives. Before entering into parenthood, one must really put aside any doubts that being a parent is the hardest, biggest, dirtiest, and most rewarding job imaginable. But, it probably won’t be the only full-time job you’ll have. For working parents, you’ll spend eight hours a day at one job, clock out, and then clock back in as mommy or daddy with a mountain of chores to complete, bills to pay, and work emails to review. If a separation or divorce occurs, your schedule may become even tougher—especially if there's a communication breakdown between you and the other parent. It really becomes a balancing act between financially supporting your family, and doing what’s right for your child.

Most parents need multiple sheets of paper to list their daily duties and responsibilities. When it comes to your child’s education, it should be at the top of the list. It’s important to remember that just because they are in school and under the care of educators, parental participation is still a must. According to Dr. Linda Albert, author of "The Busy Parent’s Guide to Involvement in Education", a parent’s “involvement in education increases your children’s chances for success in school. Studies show that children whose parents are involved in education are more motivated in school. Motivated students are more likely to participate in class, more likely to complete homework, and more likely to achieve academically.” Taking into consideration time availability, put together "16 Ways Parents Can Be Involved in the Classroom", ranging from three hours per day (becoming a class parent) to three hours per year (attending open house). While everyone should be making ample time for their children, if you’re only participating in the latter option, you’re on an entirely wrong schedule.

Separation or divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. The better the parents manage their time with the child, and their relationship with each other— especially in front of the child—the more focused he or she will be in school. In an article called "Kids, Divorce and School Success", the GreatSchools staff suggests that “effective planning is key to lessening conflict, making sure everyone is in agreement about expectations and helping your child focus on school.” When it comes to a schedule, flexibility is important because time has to be made between parents to accommodate the child. In "Bright Ideas for Divorced Parents", again utilizing GreatSchools, it's recommended that the parents be open and forthright with the child’s teacher and school about the separation, and participate in child-focused activities such as PTA meetings or parent/teacher conferences "even if on different days. It’s easy to lose focus when feeling pain, but the child should be the focus.”

We all take work home now and then. Thanks to mobile devices, this generation of parents are able to work at home, away from the office. When there is a little one at home, and mommy or daddy show up, it’s automatically play time. So, how would you balance work and family time in this instance? In her piece titled "The Five Things Successful Working Parents Give Up To Reach A Work-Life Balance", Amy Morin opines that parents should always remain flexible because “achieving a balance between career and children doesn’t necessarily mean the time is split evenly. Successful parents understand that there will be times when their family will need more attention and times when a career will demand more energy.” Let’s be honest: raising a child is very expensive. Children have needs, and to reach those needs, career responsibilities have to be met. If there is a work-related task to be done at home, try to split the time to ensure that both your job and the needs of the family are satisfied.

Fact: Working parents can still be quality parents! All parents want to keep their careers going and raise well-adjusted children, but as Morin indicates, sacrifices have to be made. Because moments of disconnect between a parent and child can add up, especially when work or divorce erupts, it’s important to always be present as much as possible. Between managing a career, a family and somehow finding time for yourself—because parents should never neglect their needs too—parenting is a tough gig. Yet, as hard as it is, you still can’t put it on your resume.

Simply put, communication is a big reason for divorce. If there is a verbal roadblock between the parents, there is actually an app called Our Wizard Family that allows for separated or divorced parents to share calendars, as well as a journal option to document child milestones and events.

*Image courtesy of Just Outside The Box Cartoon