The challenges of being a working parent

18 March 2020

As a mother, I am always thinking about ways in which I can try and ensure our family, and children are best set up for a prosperous future. This isn’t just about financial stability, but also about happiness and fulfilment.


How do you get the balance right between providing for your family, and being present for them? For every family this “balance” can look quite different, and yet work. I look back at my childhood and I remember my parents working so hard to provide for us, and yet I also remember them always being there to love us, play with us, and regularly take us out on adventures and day trips. The extended family also had their part to play in helping if mum and dad ever needed a hand.


Looking back on my childhood, quite some time down the track, I now realise that whilst at times my parents (migrants having to start from almost nothing) had to work some very long hours, they were always present and attentive when they were with us. I remember feeling loved and protected by the two most important people in my life, other than my siblings.


Now, as a parent, I see just how resilient, resourceful and competent children are from such a young age. But I also see how emotional, highly dependent, and fragile they can be too. My husband and I are in no uncertain terms our children’s security blanket. There is no questioning how much they rely on our love, support, nurture and guidance to help regulate their world.


I find myself wondering how I give my husband and children everything they need and deserve when I am working hard on a start-up business. In the development stage I was working 4 days a week, had two children under 4, pregnant, and working on the business in the evenings. My business partner and I, both in this same situation, save for her third being newborn rather than in utero, would often look at each other and say, “what the hell were we thinking?”. We were trying to start up a maternity label with no knowledge of, or experience in, the fashion industry, with what we thought was already more than enough on our plates. However, our passion and dogged determination kept us motivated to make it all work; not to mention the amount of hard-earned money we were putting into the business.


At times I find myself unbelievably tired, torn between the endless chores and to do lists, and disappointingly frustrated with 3 (mostly) wonderful children demanding my time and attention most hours of the day. I am constantly asking myself how I can be a better parent and give my children the love and attention they need. What about my partner? He needs love and attention too. It’s easy to beat yourself up about what you’re not doing, or what you could be doing better. But then I think back to my wonderful childhood, my extremely hardworking parents, and how they made it work. I promised myself that I would make every effort to find calm and patience in dealing with the many challenging moments the children like to throw my way; I needed this for my own sense of calm and sanity too. And most importantly, what I learned from my parents was that when I was with my partner and children, I had to do my best to be present. It’s easy to be physically present, but otherwise absent, and I needed to make sure that this would not be the case. Whilst this sounds easy, most parents would agree it most definitely is not. But for me, this is one of the most important ways that I can ensure I try to find the balance required to give my husband and children the love and attention they need and deserve.


There are so many challenges we face in life, but thankfully for my husband and I our greatest challenge is finding the right balance in life as working parents. We are grateful that we are not faced with some of the adversities, challenges and heart ache faced by some other parents and families out there. Getting the balance right is key for us as we don’t want to take our precious gifts (our three children and each other), and wonderful life together as a family for granted. This sentiment also extends to the rest of our family and friends. They are our support network, and our sanity, and they too help us get through the challenges of being working parents.


So, whilst many of us endeavour to find the right balance as working parents, for the well-being of ourselves, our partners, our children, and our family unit, for me this is always a work in progress! My love for my children and partner motivates me to keep persevering no matter how tired I am, or how far buried in life I feel. And ultimately, the ability of my family, friends, and wonderfully supportive business partner, to make me laugh makes the most difficult of days seem not so bad. Most importantly, my business partner and I agreed when first embarking on this journey that family would ALWAYS come first, and that would not mean that the business would have to come to a grinding halt if anything came up, but rather we would always step up to cover each other. Our partners have also committed to helping wherever they could, if ever required. Life as a working parent is challenging, but it is immensely rewarding. Hopefully my children will grow to see the rewards in working hard in life, not just for the financial rewards and stability, but most importantly, for the happiness of those you love.


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