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How to Find Time For Personal Development as a Busy Parent

By Tess Pajaron

When you’re a busy parent, finding time enough for a cup of coffee let alone personal development may feel like a tall order. Add a potentially unhealthy dose of parental guilt into the mix and any time you do put aside for yourself is accompanied by a lingering feeling that you’re somehow doing wrong by your kids.

It’s therefore encouraging to see that a study conducted by Harvard University reveals that being a working parent can actually have a really positive impact on your children. You’re more likely to raise a successful daughter and an empathetic son if you’re heading out to work. And the benefits for you are obvious. You get time to focus on your own ambitions and success, which in turn will make you a happier parent and a great role model too.

So we can safely put the guilt to one side. But, even with a guilt-free desire for personal development, how can you find the time when you have parental responsibilities to tend to as well? Here are a few tips for maximising and freeing up your time:

Remember That You Can’t Do Everything

 Making home cooked meals from scratch, keeping the house spotless, spending quality time with the kids and working a full time job? Something’s got to give. When you’re a working parent, you have to constantly reassess your priorities. One week work may have to come first as you strive to meet challenging deadlines. The next week your child may be sick and need a lot of love and attention. You need to work flexibly whilst reminding yourself that it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. Accept that “good enough” will sometimes do.

Ask for Help

 When you’re a working parent, a little help and support goes a long way. Work with your partner to find ways you can share the load. Take up relatives’ offers to watch the children for a few hours. And see if you can find other working parents in your neighbourhood who would be willing to share pick-ups and drop-offs at school or extra-curricular activities. That way you’re not doing everything by yourself and will able to free up some time for your own personal projects.

Don’t Do Everything For Your Kids

 It’s tempting, particularly when you’re suffering from working parent guilt, to indulge your children to the max. You want to show them how much you love them whenever you can. However, this can sometimes have a negative effect. Children need boundaries. A reasonable level of responsibility can also help your little ones mature into responsible adults. Get them to help out with chores around the house, ask them to take responsibility for tidying their rooms and work together as a family rather than doing everything for everyone yourself.

Take Care of Yourself

 When you’re trying to achieve your own personal development and take care of your children, it can seem that every waking hour is spent working. If you spend too long maximising your mental and physical strength, you’re going to end up exhausted and not much use to anyone. Make time for your own relaxation as well as your own personal development. This could mean a night out with friends, a regular session at the gym or just a nice, long bath. Whatever you need to recharge your batteries and come back to both work and home refreshed, make time for it.

Being a working parent is a constant juggling act. But it’s one that creates lots of benefits for both you and your children. Be sure to take a step back every now and then to congratulate yourself on everything you’re managing to achieve.

With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.
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