3 Surprising Tips Every Working Parent Should Know

September 24, 2019

On the SWM blog, we talk a lot about core financial skills, like estimating costs, building budgets, and comparing investment options. Whether you’re developing a travel budget or aiming for financial independence, financial skills help us become stronger, more independent individuals. 

But these aren’t the only skills we need to develop if we want to pave the way toward a comfortable life — especially with kids thrown in the mix! Not only do we want to achieve personal success, but we want our families to thrive, too.

As we leave the slower days of summer behind, let’s start this back-to-school season with our best foot forward. Here are 3 simple tips for balancing your personal goals and family time.

1. Start your day early & eat the frog

While this may sound like the strangest breakfast you’ve ever heard of, it’s actually a great way to start the day strong.

Many of the world’s most successful people start their days before the sun comes up. It makes sense — the world is quieter before dawn, giving you more space to think, set goals, and maybe even produce your best work. This crucial time sets the tone for your day ahead.

If you’re not an early riser, it’ll take some time to make the switch. Rather than switching from an 8 a.m. wake up time to 5 a.m. in one day, try building up to it. Each day, wake up 10 minutes earlier than you did the day before until you’ve reached your goal wake up time.

Once you’re up and at ‘em, it’s time for the dreaded frog. As the saying goes, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, do the hardest task early in your day, and everything will be easier from there on out. 

Is your frog a hefty assignment? Your exercise routine? You decide — just get it done! You got this.

2. Plan meetings around the school day

Planning meetings around the school day may sound straightforward, but sometimes it can be easier said than done — especially when you’re balancing other people’s schedules, not just your own.

Here are a few ways to plan your schedule on your terms:

  • Make the most of your best tool — your calendar. Have a standing meeting with a client each week? Yoga at lunch? Dropping the kids off at school? Put it on the calendar, even if it feels routine. Then, slot some time for yourself at the end of each month or quarter to reevaluate your standing meetings. This creates dedicated time for you to ask yourself “Is this working? Can I do this better?” Likewise, schedule some time at the end of each week to look at the week ahead. Have you overbooked yourself? Are there any meetings that need to be moved or canceled?   
  • Tackle your meetings. Try to group together your meetings if you can. That way, you can create time for uninterrupted “deep work” — giving you solid blocks of time to execute your projects. Just don’t forget to give yourself breaks between meetings! 
  • Communicate with your colleagues and clients. If one of your meetings is regularly clashing with another standing obligation, don’t be afraid to bring this up with the meeting owner! Rescheduling standing meetings can take time, but if you can solve these calendar clashes, it’ll likely save you time and stress in the long-run. 

By taking back your schedule, you’re more likely to have a full workday and spend more time with your family. Studies show that spending time together by eating dinner together promotes healthier eating habits, boosts kids’ vocabularies and is correlated to better mental health.

3. Work remotely using smart tools so you can participate in school activities 

Spending time with your kids doesn’t have to be limited to family dinner time. With the explosion of digital technology, completing work outside of the office has never been easier.

Which tools best suit your needs depends on your profession and how you work outside of the office. Take a look at the following tools used by digital workers:

  • Digital office suite & file sharing (like Google Drive, Microsoft Office 365) — whether you’re 5 miles or 50 miles away from your desk, write and share your documents instantly
  • Video conferencing (like Zoom, Skype) — meet with your colleague without having to rent out the conference room
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software (like Salesforce, MailChimp) — stay up to date with clients and leads quickly and easily
  • Wifi hot spots — get reliable internet even when you’re chaperoning the school camping trip

While remote work is certainly not for everyone, pretty much everyone has to catch up on emails these days. If you can take a quiet moment on a field trip to get on your smartphone and follow up on some outstanding emails, do it! If that doesn’t seem feasible, try shifting a few of your work hours to later in the day so you’re able to participate in school or after-school activities.

Parents — we’re in this together.  

Parenting is an ongoing learning process. Sometimes we feel like we’ve got it covered, and sometimes it feels like we’re still on page 1 of the Parenting Guidebook.

Share your tips with us, or give us a call to talk about your family’s financial goals. We’re here when you need us!