One of the many struggles families face today is maintaining a balance between work and life. While it is important to dedicate your time to a career that is psychologically fulfilling and financially satisfying, this can often lead to time away from home and a disrupted family lifestyle.
When a parent is absent from home due to work, it places a burden on the parent who is left behind. While this imbalance of domestic responsibility is not necessarily intentional, it can be a significant cause of stress.
Whatever the reason for a working parent to be away from, extra effort and care must be given in order to maintain a healthy and happy family.
Working Away From Home
Many careers involve work is done away from home for weeks to months at a time.
For example, those who are involved in the armed forces often find themselves all around the world completing tours or training. Likewise, workers in the oil fields or on oil rigs are often isolated from their families during their contracted work.
These are just two examples of jobs that require living in a separate dwelling away from one’s spouse and children.
How to Deal
Staying connected with your children is extremely important, so keep in touch using Skype or phone calls. Try to keep communication as consistent as possible by speaking with them the same time of day and the same days of the week. Work your calls into their schedule, perhaps Skyping at bedtime to share a story or after-school to discuss their day.
While shift work does have its benefits when it comes to getting two or more days off in a row, difficulties arise when one parent works evenings or overnights shifts while the other works days and the children are in school.
Many healthcare-related jobs, especially those in hospitals, require a rotating schedule of daytime and nighttime shifts. As well, call centre positions that cater to customers in different time zones often require overnight work as well.
How to Deal
Make sure there is a clear understanding of responsibilities between both parents when it comes to taking care of the children and the home. If you work shift work, it’s likely your sleep schedule is irregular. However, you must continue parental responsibilities during your waking hours.
Frequent Work Travel
Even though a job is close to home, it may require travel that spans several days and nights away from the family. Work-related travel can create chaos for a family since the time and duration of the travel often cannot be scheduled around the other parent’s schedule and family events.
Business consultants and accountants often have to travel to their clients’ places of business to complete their work.
How to Deal
Create a countdown calendar in anticipation of the other parent’s arrival home to stir up some excitement.
If you are the parent travelling for work, try not to compensate for your absence by lavishing your little ones with gifts. Let the excitement of you being home be the source of joy.
A job can be close to home, offer suitable hours and still throw off family life by requiring overtime in addition to regular hours. Unfortunately, this can sometimes occur last minute meaning that any plans later in the day must be cancelled.
Careers in the manufacturing or mechanical sectors rely on the operation of their machines to conduct business. Workers may be required to stay past their scheduled hours in order to repair broken machinery or supervise crews in order to have the work done on time.
How to Deal
As a parent that works overtime, it is important to continue on with the disciplinary tactics used by the other parent during the day. You may feel guilty for being away from your children and compensate that absence by going easy on them and having fun. However, this undermines the other parent’s authority so it’s important to maintain consistency with behavioural expectations.