With all the work and effort involved in being a working parent, why would you even bother? Our recent blogs have explored many of the challenges faced by working parents in achieving a successful career and family life, and have emphasised the importance of thorough mental and physical preparation in anticipating and dealing with those challenges. And yes, it’s true, so far, so hard!
But it’s not all doom and gloom. This week we’re lightening things up by looking at the many uplifting reasons to be a working parent. There’s no denying that the working parenthood journey is a tough one, but it’s also valuable to reflect on why so many of us choose to undertake that journey, and ultimately find it a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Is it just about the money?
Well, obviously most of us are working for financial reasons, to pay mortgages, put food on the table, and maintain a comfortable lifestyle. But when I asked 25 working mothers what were the benefits of combining a high level career with parenthood, for most, it was about much more than just financial gain. With childcare fees gobbling up large proportions of salaries these days, there must be other reasons why many mothers choose to continue working when they have kids. Here are our top ten.
10 uplifting reasons to love being a working parent
- Getting some independence and freedom back. You will never again complain about your commute because as a working parent, time sitting on a train with a coffee and your own thoughts is positively blissful!
- It keeps your brain active and engaged. Obviously as a parent at home you are using your brain to solve all sorts of problems, but working as well gives you an opportunity to use your brain in refreshingly different ways.
- You retain your sense of personal identity. There is nothing wrong with wanting to identify as a ‘mum’ above all else, but it is also ok to feel that your job is an essential part of you. If you have been working hard to climb the career ladder for the last ten years, why wouldn’t it be?
- You get to spend your own money. This is hugely important. When maternity pay stops, it can be really hard to accept that you no longer have the financial independence you have been used to. It can make you feel unnecessarily guilty about spending any money on yourself and it feels plain wrong buying your partner a present with their own funds!
- You might feel that you can be a better mother to your children BECAUSE you have an outlet for your career ambitions. Being fulfilled and valued in the workplace can make you feel more focused and dedicated in the time that you do spend with your children.
- You can gain confidence. There’s nothing like doing well and gaining recognition in a job that you love to boost your self-esteem. It can be an important counter-point to the selflessness required in parenthood when your own needs are no longer the priority.
- You can find intellectual stimulation. Not to say that small children developing in front of your eyes isn’t mind-blowing and joyous in myriad ways, but parenting can be repetitive and downright boring sometimes. It can feel positively exhilarating just to have a workplace conversation or a debate with an adult!
- You have camaraderie in the workplace. Apart from going to baby and toddler groups and arranging meet-ups, the very nature of babies needing regular naps and feeds means that parenting at home can sometimes be a lonely experience. If you are a working parent, you can retain those workplace interactions and friendships which are so important for your emotional well-being.
- You love your job. It’s the biggie! If your job is your passion you are extremely fortunate as you will find extra strength and reserves to persevere when times are tough.
- You can be a great role model for your children (especially your daughters). Our feminist forebears sacrificed lots to enable women to work equally with men and be financially and politically independent. By continuing to work when you have children you can reinforce the message that women are equal, strong and independent and can make their own life choices.
What other positive reasons do you have for wanting to continue working when you have children? Join the discussion in our Linkedin group.
Our forthcoming Babyproof Your Career online course will provide resources and strategies for preparing to meet the challenges of working parenthood. Register your interest here.