Parenting without an everyday partner will be an adjustment. Post-divorce parenting will have new challenges, especially as you adjust to balancing work with your responsibilities to your child. You may feel pulled in a million different directions. Even if you had a clone, could you manage it all? It will take some adjusting on your part, your child’s part, and maybe even your employer’s part. But you will figure out how to make it work. Here are some tips for balancing work responsibilities with parenting duties as a divorced mom or dad:
Evaluate Your Employer
With all the other changes in your life, you may be hesitant to consider switching employers. However, finding a new job is worth considering if you are struggling to balance work and parenting. Some companies have much more family-friendly cultures than others.
Moving to a company that offers on-site daycare might simplify your life and simplify your mornings. A job with flexible hours would mean being able to be home when your child gets off the school bus. A flex schedule might allow you to have every Tuesday off to attend gymnastic practices or listen in on trumpet lessons. If a potential new employer offers additional vacation or sick time, that could also make solo parenting easier.
Having an employer who understands that parenting might occasionally bleed into work time can remove tremendous pressure. If they accept that you may leave early once a month to be home when your ex drops off your child after visitation or allows an occasional long lunch to bring your child to the dentist will be a better fit than if they refuse to make any allowances for your situation. You will worry less that simply meeting parenting requirements will jeopardize your job or your ability to succeed at work. Look for a work culture that matches your life. An employer that offers flexible schedules and a supportive, family-friendly culture can make a world of difference in how it feels to be a divorced parent.
Hopefully you have a team of friends and family you can turn to for emotional support. But Don’t be afraid to seek help beyond just emotions. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is even more true after divorce.
There will be times you can’t go it alone. Ask another parent if they can handle school pick-up for you when you have late meetings at work. If your sibling asks how they can support you, let them know that babysitting your child for a few hours once or twice a month would make a world of difference.
You will get vague offers like, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Be bold and follow up on these offers. If you ask for something the person isn’t willing or able to do, they can always say no. As long as your requests are reasonable, it can’t hurt to ask, especially if someone has already expressed a desire to help. When you are able, you can try to return these favors but don’t be afraid to rely on the people who love you as you adjust to post-divorce parenting.
If you have a good relationship with your co-parent, even they can be a source of support. Cultivating a relationship where you are both comfortable asking the other to trade visitation weekends if you have work travel or move pick-up times a few hours earlier or later can make both your lives easier. If you have questions about how these requests might affect your custody agreement, consult the lawyer for your divorce case before making or agreeing to any changes.
Hire Helping Hands
Support from friends and family is fantastic, but you may need to take things a step further. If need be, you can hire a helper. Budgeting for a periodic babysitter will buy you some mental well-being.
Paying a mother’s helper or father’s friend to play with your children for a few hours while you manage a work-from-home Zoom call can be inexpensive. Since you are home, you can hire an older child looking to earn extra money. Pay expectations are lower because responsibility is less than regular sitters, but the effect on your life can be just as significant. Think creatively about ways you can spend your money to support yourself and meet your needs as a single parent.
Organize Your Office
Whether you must leave your workplace on time to rush to school pick-up or simply because time at the office is time away from your family and home responsibilities, now is the time to streamline your work processes.
Set healthy boundaries. If your employer adds additional responsibilities, it is okay to point out that your schedule is already full. You can do the new tasks, but ask which old tasks they would like you to hand off to make that feasible.
Work as efficiently as possible. In the past, you may have taken a mid-day coffee break or stepped out for a quick walk. If these activities stop, can you make it out of the office on time? Prioritize cutting out anything that doesn’t work toward the goal of less time at the office. Being efficient and organized and setting healthy boundaries can help avoid staying late at work.
Make ‘Me Time’
It can be easy to focus on everything you need to do for your child and home responsibilities. Certainly, that is a critical part of your post-divorce parenting. But don’t do so at the expense of yourself. Prioritize carving out time to recharge your batteries and engage in a bit of self-care. That ‘me time’ could be as simple as spending 15 minutes reading a book before bed or arranging a sitter so you can continue playing in your weekly soccer game. Caring for yourself helps you better handle your parenting and work responsibilities.
The first few months of parenting without a partner may feel stressful and chaotic. You will learn as you go, and it will get better and more manageable, especially if you follow these tips to help you balance work life with parenting responsibilities.