By Marjie Hadad
My husband looked at the instructions held in place by a black and tomato-sauce red pizza parlor magnet on the silver-colored refrigerator in our kitchen.
He surveyed the detailed chart, listing every part of the kids’ schedule for the entire week I’d be travelling for work. While I was away, he would be in charge – of EVERYTHING!
This meant taking care of the kids, the house, himself and his job.
Has this ever happened to you when your partner has gone away? Or perhaps you are ALWAYS in charge of EVERYTHING and trying to figure out a better way to juggle ten balls in the air at any given time.
Daunting and overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.
One of the themes of a new approach, called PR Parenting, is to bring your special professional skills home to benefit your family – you know, the same ones that help you at work to get the job done and rise to any occasion.
More specifically, consider using this three-step PR Parenting approach to help improve your work-family balance, especially when it’s all on you:
- Roll with it (Flexibility)
Obvious? Maybe not. Let’s break it down.
Just like you block out your appointments on a hard copy or electronic calendar, do the same for your responsibilities at home using the same calendar.
Use your 24 hours a day thoughtfully. Think through when to do each necessary task, work and family, and the fun stuff if there’s time. Also, try to look at time in a way that supports rather than frustrates you and your family.
Also, take a look at our curated list of top Dad Blogs, offering valuable insights and guidance for fathers who are eager to make a positive impact but might be unsure where to begin.
Example: Do you have ONLY 15 minutes, or do you have 15 WHOLE minutes to achieve a goal or complete a task or activity?
When you think about it, it might just be that the task or activity stressing you out might only take five minutes. Great. This leaves you with 10 minutes to spare for something else, like an extra hug for your kid or some unexpected chill time for you.
Next, time-manage appropriately to stay on schedule each day, even if it’s a loose schedule. We all know some things might go quicker or take longer than expected.
A big-picture schedule could look like this:
Morning rush and school drop off, work day, after-school activities, dinner, bath, bedtime and the all-important “daily debrief”. (Exhausted just thinking about it. I promise you can do this!)
In the public relations industry, we always debrief with our clients following an interview or an event.
We discuss what went well AND not so well, consider what we’d do again, and what we would, or should, avoid.
The point of this process is to learn from the experience and set up everyone involved for future success. Do you do this in your job, too?
The debrief process is even more important at home. It allows you to learn what’s on your child’s mind, to see if something requires your attention, and/or if they might need some proactive support.
Review what went well, what they’d do again and what they might reconsider for the next time.
The best time for a debrief – whenever your child is ready.
As we say in public relations, consider your target market and their habits when deciding on the best time and way to share your messages so that they will be received as intended.
In the case of your child, this means considering when they will be most likely to share and engage in a productive discussion, and that’s when you need to do your best to be available.
They may be willing to share at a very convenient time for you, like during a car ride or at dinner.
Or their timing might be terrible for you, like straight after school when you are on a deadline for work or late at night when you are exhausted from the day.
Either way, it’s important to look for the signs they want to spill and then take the time (whenever that is) to leverage the opportunity.
Don’t forget to check out our Family Travel Bucket List Template — available for download!
Roll with It (Flexibility)
Does flexibility and parenting sound tough?
Think of it this way – You are regularly interrupted at work by colleagues, clients or bosses, and you make the time for them, correct? If something came up at an odd hour for work, you’d rise to the occasion, right? Same difference with the kids.
Now, let’s take this one step further.
If your kids call you while you are at work, give them the same courtesy you would give your colleagues when they call you when you are with your family.
Determine if the issue can be dealt with later, if you can delegate, or if it requires immediate attention.
If it requires immediate attention, excuse yourself from your meeting. Find a reasonably private place and problem-solve.
You may find you can solve the problem quickly if you focus and give your child, and their problem, the proper respect.
Now, what if you are time-managing, prioritizing and rolling with it beautifully, only to discover that your child is misbehaving? What to do?
- Debrief. Start with a debrief – this time, though, the debrief isn’t as much about spilling as it is about giving them an opportunity to state their case and for you both to review what happened, the “why” behind it, and how to handle it differently in the future to achieve a better outcome. If the misbehaving continues, then it’s “kid contract” time.
- Contracts. Just like we have contracts at work that define expectations, deliverables, compensation and consequences if one side doesn’t fulfill the agreement – use this same practice at home to set expectations for behavior and agree with your child on what will happen if they don’t honor their contract.
- Consequences. YES, let THEM choose the consequences – just make sure the consequences are ones you can enforce and don’t include any that would jeopardize their well-being – physically, emotionally or psychologically. In fact, at this point, they may need a hug and your love more than ever.
- Document. Record your agreement in writing. Then sign it – both you and your child. Finally, shake hands to make it official – just like at work.
Time to Breathe
When your partner returns from being away, maybe you divide kid duty evenly, or perhaps, according to talent or preference.
For example, my husband is the way better chef of the two of us. For the benefit of all, he does the cooking of the meals.
If tired of cooking, try ‘Assembling Meals‘ for quick and easy options.
I, on the other hand, am better with health-related events, so I’m the one who generally takes the kids to the doctor. Over the years, we’ve shared pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as diaper changes in the early days.
Now that you’ve had the experience of doing it ALL, by sharing the responsibilities, no matter how you divide them with your partner, think of all the newly discovered free time you’ll have.
Use this newfound “free time” to take some “me time”, even if just a few minutes, make nice memories with your child, or enjoy some quality time with your partner.
Explore Caregiver Burnout: Reclaim ‘Me Time’ for professional tips on managing stress and fatigue.
If you are flying solo, and doing it ALL is the norm, you now have a new approach and a new way of looking at things that will hopefully make your parenting journey that much smoother.
Marjie Hadad is a global public relations expert, the author of the award-winning, international number 1 bestseller The Power of PR Parenting: How to raise confident, resilient and successful children using public relations strategies, an award-winning TV producer, as well as a speaker on how to use public relations practices to master parenting, succeed in career and thrive in life. Marjie holds a BS in Broadcast Journalism and an MA in International Relations both from Boston University. She is married and is the mother of three grown children. She lives in Israel and the United States.