Managing a full time role as a parent and 7 tips to help you!

As a working mother of an energetic and active two-year-old, it can be incredibly challenging to strike a balance between work and family life. I sometimes feel that I’m just rushing from one thing to another, and I frequently worry that I’m not providing my child or my career the time and attention they individually deserve.
Despite these challenges, I believe that I am winning! I’ve been able to manage by creating a plan that works for me.
My biggest passion is helping others, so I started my career by mentoring youth to manage community projects. Over time, Counseling turned out to be my true calling. I have worked with the admissions and recruitment teams at universities and also worked as a counselor in school. I enjoy being able to help my clients navigate the challenging and very often perplexing college application process. It’s crucial, in my opinion, that children have a confidante who can offer them frank counsel and guide them through college admissions.
In order to make this all work, I have to be very organized. I make sure to plan out my days and weeks ahead of time. I also make sure to give myself time to relax and spend quality time with my family. This also means identifying the peak period of the admissions process, and planning holidays well in advance.
Working with college-bound students can mean working late nights and weekends to meet the needs of your students. This can make it difficult to balance your family and work obligations, especially when you are also a parent. To make the most of your time and energy, it’s important to have a plan to manage both your work and home life.
Here are some tips to help:
1. Set realistic expectations. You have competing demands on your time. It’s important to set realistic expectations for both your work and home life. It is ok to prioritize work based on what’s urgent, important and a miss that you can afford for that day (to do another day).
2. Prioritize your tasks. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to prioritize your tasks. Identify what needs to be done and make a list of your priorities. This will help you stay focused and efficient. Block out focus time on your calendar. Well begun is half done, I say!
3. Make use of technology. The world is moving at a fast pace. Video conferencing has made us accessible as and when needed. Project management software can help you connect with your internal team and clients while working remotely. I strongly advocate frequent communication and IM’s and softwares for client management help me do that efficiently.
4. Ask for support. It could be your partner, family or friends. It takes a village to raise a childPlanning and delegating tasks, sharing responsibilities and keeping control of deadlines help with your work tasks as well as home chores. Taking help wherever one can is strongly recommended.
5. Be flexible and adaptable. With children, unexpected events happen all the time. Be open and accepting to changing your plans and finding new solutions when faced with unexpected challenges.
6. DON’T be a perfectionist. As an ambitious woman, I have been very aggressive about the career opportunities I have chosen for myself and very particular about my work being perfect. As a mother, I had to reduce my pace to accommodate the demands of my child. I may have had to move meetings around, those that I really wanted to get done with. My calendar kept moving around. Not every shirt was without a stain. Not every meal was piping hot. I often have my tea lukewarm and I’m grateful for that. I became extremely happy and content as I accepted this reality.
7. Manage your stress and mental health. As a new parent, almost every challenge you face is new and unnerving. Am I thinking too much about my kid not saying 40 words at 12 months or am I ok that she’s still babbling at 1! We worry over everything. I realized over time that it mentally exhausted me. I had to put myself on priority to take care of my system. I took time out that helped me enjoy and relax. I have literally not gotten out of bed one Sunday. But I realized that for me and other working parents, it is very important to identify what makes us happy and one should not hesitate in seeking out professional help if needed.
In conclusion, juggling both responsibilities, a full-time career as a mother and a high-performance college guidance counselor is challenging yet fulfilling. While challenging, I would repeatedly choose this path for myself every time!
Zoya Qureshi
Lead Counselor