In the wake of recent news that the gender pay gap widens after women start a family, it stands to reason that for many, having both a successful career and a fulfilled family life, feels even further out of reach. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
1. Strike a balance that suits you
Every family is different. What’s right for your friend, sister, or colleague isn’t necessarily going to be right for your needs and personal desires. Consider carefully what will make you and your family most happy and what will suit your personal circumstances. That may mean embracing flexible working, for example becoming a Virtual Assistant. Alternatively, you might reject the traditional gender roles and go back to work full time while your partner stays at home as the primary caregiver.
2. Calculate what you can afford
Childcare can be incredibly expensive, so for the first few years of your child’s life it may be that going to work costs you money, rather than boosts the household income. Bear in mind that when your kids hit school age, the cost of childcare will undoubtedly reduce, so those outgoings aren’t permanent. That said, sit down with your partner to think about the lifestyle you want versus what you can afford, even if it is temporary.
3. Take care of you
Managing a busy career and family burns a lot of energy! It’s incredibly important to look after yourself so you have the health and energy levels required. Go to bed early so you can get as good a night’s sleep as possible, and work out wherever you can squeeze it in. It might not feel like it at the time, but regular exercise will give you the energy levels you need to be able to manage your busy schedule.
4. Build your support teams
Both at work and at home, you’ll need support teams to back you up if you’re going to balance your career growth and a happy family. If you’re lucky enough to have a great boss, explain to them what you need to be able to continue being productive within the business. Encourage teamwork by being generous with your time for your colleagues. While that might seem outrageous to someone who is exceptionally time-poor, it will pay dividends at the times you’ll inevitably need it.
At home, say yes (without feeling guilty) to offers of babysitting by friends, other parents and family. Build your networks and consider outsourcing at home just as you would at work, if you can afford it. Engage a cleaner, hire a chef for a few hours to cook up a week’s worth of meals, or ask the neighbour’s son to mow the lawn for pocket money.
5. Keep your priorities in focus
Just as you’d hire a launderer to iron shirts so you can spend quality time reading stories, know that sometimes, it’s better to leave the dishes in the sink so you can take the family for a nice Sunday afternoon walk. As you become busier, don’t lose sight of what’s important. If climbing the corporate ladder is your priority, then do it. Take the same approach to managing your home life as you would your work. Be organised, ensure you manage your time well, and delegate!