Can’t do it all? Stop feeling guilty!

It’s impossible for working parents to attend every event and activity their child participates in. Take a look at how to balance work and home life, and how to stop the guilt.

It’s the end of the school year, and that means dance and piano recitals, ball games, field days, field trips, choir and band concerts, name-that-grade graduation and general end-of-the-year parties are here. As a working parent, does this stress you out? Of course! You want to be there for every one of your child’s events and activities. You can’t do it all and it’s time to stop feeling guilty!

Balancing work life and home life is an on-going challenge for most working parents. In the article “Balancing kids and careers,” published at the American Psychological Association, Ohio psychology practitioner Lisa Damour and University of Louisville School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Sarah Honaker advise that while the balancing act between family and career is difficult, it’s also worth it because it means you also have two very distinct areas of your life that bring you satisfaction. Research conducted by Janet Hyde at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled “Women, Men, Work, and Family,” has also found that having multiple roles is beneficial for both men and women when it comes to our mental, physical and relationship health.

So how do we overcome the guilt of not being at every event every time? Your child can benefit by being under the direction or in the care of another adult such as a coach, teacher, mentor, instructor, leader, friend’s parent or day care worker. Kids develop skills when they’re learning from others and Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development believes it’s important for youth to develop positive relationships with adults and peers. Skills youth can gain while developing those relationships include managing feelings, problem-solving, communication, cooperation, social skills, accepting differences and concern for others.

Remember that balancing act, work and home, where both give you satisfaction? At times where you may be missing an event or activity because of work, it may seem like there isn’t a lot of satisfaction in your job. That’s when it’s important to reflect on why your job is satisfying. Things like utilizing your skillset or education, interacting with others who have similar interests or solving problems that positively impact others are all reasons you may find your job satisfying.

Consider ways to celebrate your child and their accomplishments, even if you can’t be there in person. You can do things like:

  • Ask a friend or parent to record the event or activity, and then hold a concert or show where the child gets to show you their accomplishments.
  • Hold a small get together with family and friends who also were not in attendance. Ask the child to do a reenactment.
  • Do something special with your child focused on their interests. If you were unable to attend their baseball game, consider taking them to see their favorite local ball team play.
  • Just spend time with your child before and after the event and explain to them how important they are to you.

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