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Strike a balance between work and your parenting plan

By Emily Gore

There will be a lot of changes in your life after a divorce or separation. The parenting plan you establish with your ex-partner sets out your responsibilities and parenting time with your children, but you also have to tend to many other duties at home such as cooking, cleaning, and general maintenance.

Then there is work. You need the income so you still have to show up and do a good job, though the time commitment can interfere with other aspects of your life. Here are some general guidelines about how to strike the right balance between working and meeting the obligations set out in your parenting plan.

Ask about family-friendly perks at work

Many workplaces make special arrangements for working parents. They understand that a good work/life balance leads to greater productivity and a more positive work culture. They also know that parents are good at multitasking and time management, so many workplaces will go out of their way to allow you to find the right balance.

Ask about your company’s policies concerning sick time and parental leave. If you need to take some time off to deal with family members or an ill child, consult with a human resources person and find out if accommodations can be made.

Many employers in Alberta offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flextime, or compressed workweeks. Find the schedule that accommodates your parenting needs while fulfilling your work responsibilities.

Establish boundaries for work

Some people spend long hours in the office or travel extensively on business trips. As a divorced or separated parent, those may no longer be viable options for you.

Explain to your manager that you need to be at home more than before because the divorce or separation has increased your responsibilities at home. You may have to accept a transfer to another position or cut down on the hours you devote to your job. Many workplaces allow people to work from home, which can be beneficial as long as you don’t neglect your parenting duties in favour of your work duties.

Perhaps you should commit to a policy of not answering emails or calls after a certain hour. Then you will be there to help the children with their homework or just to enjoy time together.

Manage your schedule in advance

As a newly single parent, it is essential that you plan and coordinate your personal and work calendars. Children need to go to the dentist and to other appointments that invariably fall within the workday. With advance planning, you can minimize any conflicts that arise.

Your smartphone and home computer offer programs such as electronic calendars and time-tracking apps can help you organize your day and ensure you allocate time to both work and parenting.

On the homefront, it is always beneficial to draw up checklists and schedules, in paper or electronic formats. If the meals are planned in advance, you are not always running out to the store at the last moment. Once you get a routine established at home you will be able to concentrate more at work. That will benefit your employer and persuade them to be more willing to accommodate special requests for time off when they arise.

Ask for or even hire extra help

Family members or neighbours are often willing to step in and help with babysitting or driving children to appointments. Consider joining a local parenting group where you will meet other adults in similar situations to yours. As friendships develop, so do opportunities to trade off or share in childcare responsibilities, such as picking up children after school.

If you need help around the house, hiring a cleaning person or babysitter may be a sound investment.

Be ready to adapt and adjust

As your children grow and your responsibilities at work evolve, the work/home arrangement you once followed may no longer fit your lifestyle. Be willing to make changes that reflect your new reality, while always keeping the needs of your children at the forefront, as well as your responsibility to be a good employee. Flexibility is key to maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Leave some ‘me’ time

Single parents are always in danger of burnout due to the demands of the workplace and their parental duties. Yet if you don’t take care of yourself, your relationship with your children could suffer, as well as your workplace performance.

Resolve to be your own best friend. Eat healthy whenever you can and find some quiet time, away from work and the children. Reach out to friends and family for support and indulge in activities you find enjoyable.

Seek legal advice

Achieving a perfect balance between work and parenting is an ongoing process that requires planning and adaptability. The team at Demas Schaefer can help you through all stages of divorce and separation, ensuring that you understand your legal rights and responsibilities.

We have represented clients in Edmonton, Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Red Deer, Provost, Grande Prairie, Peace River, Fort McMurray, Edson, Hinton, and Cold Lake. Contact us for a free 15-minute telephone or video consultation to see how we can assist you.

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