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How to Be a Professional and a Parent

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Professional Parent Work Employer

Juggling the two very different roles of being a professional person and parent can be very difficult to achieve successfully. It’s even pretty hard to do both badly! For people returning to work it can be doubly hard, as the desire to do well in a new job, or after a period of absence, can add to the stress of that illusive work life balance.

But it is possible to perform each of these two roles effectively if you appreciate that there are certain ground rules and ways in which you are more likely to succeed. Read the following suggestions for ideas.

Be Good at Your Job

Sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people forget that they are employed to do a particular task! It is imperative that you are able to fulfil your job description effectively in order to justify your salary. Remember that while your employer will be keen for you to be healthy, happy and have a good work life balance, above all they need you to do your job well. It is this key fact that will enable you to negotiate flexibility if you need to take an afternoon off to attend a school play or if the childminder has called off sick and you need to work from home.

There are certainly legal requirements for employers to allow employees time off with regards to ‘family emergencies’, but what is an acceptable emergency can certainly vary from one company to another, so performing well can make a big difference when it’s a close call.

Don’t Expect Special Treatment

For an employee without children there is nothing more annoying than having to continually prop up colleagues with children – whether that’s because they come in late, think they should always have Christmas off or don’t do their fair share of preparation for an important presentation.

Although the majority of employees with children certainly do their fair share, the ones that don’t do not help. Don’t be that clichéd working parent that expects special treatment just because you have children; pull your weight and your colleagues (and your boss) will be far more supportive when you do need to call in a favour.

Attend Important Events

That goes for important work events and personal events! Getting the balance right between being a professional employee and a supportive parent can be particularly hard when it comes to events. That could be networking events that happen in the evening (especially when they’re in a different city) or school plays in the middle of the week (and always when there’s an important project on).

The first thing to remember in this situation is that you have to be prepared to use your annual leave to attend personal events. Book the time off and accept that this is a part of being a professional parent. There is no reason why you should be given additional time off simply because you are a parent – it will really annoy your colleagues.

Attending networking events outside of ‘work time’ can be really frustrating when you know that you are missing bath time, or that it will just be a bunch of people downing drinks on expenses. But if you are in a profession that requires attendance at such events, you do have to go at least occasionally! Work out the events that are necessary and make sure you go – perform well by researching who will be attending and ensure you speak with them, then hopefully when the next event comes up it will be someone else’s turn.

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