Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Four Tips for Working Parents

Jennifer Whaley, CPA

Working full-time and being a full-time parent can be challenging, especially if you have a career in public accounting and you are in the middle of tax season. It may be difficult to divide time between work and family. Having to juggle responsibilities at work and at home may become stressful. Being a full-time CPA and full-time mother of two under two, I am very familiar with these challenges. However, there are several tips working parents can apply to help balance a professional career and parenthood.

1. Obtain support from friends and family

After returning to work eight weeks after the birth of my first child, I had mixed feelings. I was excited to jump back into my career but sad that I wouldn’t be spending as much time with my little girl. There were even times when I felt guilty about returning to work. Learning to lean on my husband, friends and family for support helped tremendously. I was able to discuss my thoughts and feelings with friends and coworkers who had been in my shoes and were able to offer advice. Knowing I was not alone and that there were others who had similar experiences was encouraging.  

2. Get organized

Keep an up-to-date calendar to help you plan, prioritize your responsibilities and manage your time wisely. Also, getting ready to leave for work in the morning is much more of a challenge when you have children to get ready as well. I found that planning for the next day the night before made things less stressful in the morning. Small things such as laying out my daughter’s clothes and packing her lunch the night before helped me not to be rushed the next morning.

3. Accept that there will be good days and not-so-good days

I am a planner. I love a plan. I need a plan. However, sometimes plans must change. Waking up to a child with a fever, or getting a call from the daycare center telling you your child is sick can quickly change the day’s agenda. There will be things that happen that are out of your control. That is a part of life and pertains to anyone whether you are a parent or not. For planners like myself, learning to be flexible is key to maintaining your sanity and coping with days that don’t go as well as others.

4. Talk to your employer

It is important to communicate your needs and concerns with your employer. You may be surprised to learn how understanding and flexible your employer may be regarding your specific situation. Some workplaces allow you to work from home when the need arises. Overnight travel may be reduced or eliminated based on your needs. Hours may be adjusted to match your schedule.

These are just four things that worked for me. We all live life differently, and as such will need to approach each situation differently. For some, trying to be a parent and a full-time professional is not an option. I love my family and I love my career. Thanks to the love and support I have received from my family and friends, I have been able to find the balance between the two.

About the Author
Jennifer Whaley, CPA, is an auditor at Brown Edwards & Company, LLP in Kingsport and a member of TSCPA's Young CPA Workgroup.