How to Make Working Work for You

August 30, 2010

Andrew taylor
Patients often ask me how they can best prepare for a new addition to the family while juggling the stress of their jobs and everyday life. Let’s be honest – it’s tough! Did you know that nearly 60 percent of married mothers with children under 3 years old are active in the workforce?

This is almost double the number of working moms in 1975, and the latest studies show that fathers feel just as stressed as mothers do! It’s no easier for single parents: In single-parent families with children under 3 years, 57 percent of mothers and 77percent of fathers are employed. As it becomes more common for both mothers and fathers to work, parents find themselves struggling to handle the demands of a baby while providing for the family. With some simple adjustments, though, parents can ensure a less stressful experience for themselves and more time for the family.

Working too hard is a serious consequence for parents. You’ve probably heard of burnout from work, but did you know it can also drain you of your enthusiasm at home? How can you avoid burnout? Here are 3 easy tips:

  • You can start by using your breaks more wisely for a little bit of de-stress time. Do some deep breathing or close your eyes and envision something relaxing. Try this during your coffee breaks or when you have a bit of down time at work.
  • Use your commute as time to unwind from work and to separate work from home. Let this time serve as a gap between the pressures of work and the joys of spending time with family, and change your mindset accordingly. Stop using commute time for e-mails and texting!
  • In addition to prioritizing and improving your time management, keep your expectations as real as possible. Sometimes, it’s not going to be possible to go to the movies because Junior has an ear infection.

Now that you’re effectively avoiding burnout, what else can you do to be a successful working parent?

  • Many parents find managing a new addition much easier when they are able to work from home, using baby’s frequent naps as the perfect time to get work done.
  • Some employers also offer compressed work weeks or flextime schedules. Compressed work weeks let you work only four days per week as long as you work a couple of extra hours each day, leaving a full day open to take care of things at home. Flextime allows employees to choose when they want to work, as long as they meet the required number of work hours.
  • Great news for fathers: Some employers are also offering paternity leave.

Check with your employer about your options when you are expecting a baby. Many employers are willing to reasonably accommodate their employees when it comes to a new baby.

Armed with these tips, parents can now focus on what’s most important: enjoying the newest addition to their family and knowing that the family’s needs are met. Don’t let your job boss you around at the expense of your family life; make working work for you.

(Image Credit: Andrew Taylor/

John J. Whyte, MD, MPH is the Chief Medical Expert & Vice President for Continuing Medical Education where he develops, designs and delivers health programming.








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