Breaking into the legal field often requires working long hours, leading to many parents worrying that they are neglecting their families. However, pursuing a career in the legal field can be combined with parenting in a positive way, as long as you make the most of the time that you do spend with your kids.
The first thing you have to accept to avoid feelings of guilt is that you can’t do everything. If you have decided that your career and your children are your priorities, then don’t let distractions such as chores be a drain on your attention. Ask your partner to help you out with the household chores, or hire a professional cleaner to keep on top of the cleaning.
You can outsource jobs like gardening, repairing broken appliances, and redecorating to professionals, and even order your grocery shopping online to save time. It might seem expensive or lazy to pay other people to do tasks that you could do yourself, but you need to consider what your time is worth to you – and more importantly, to your children.
The second challenge for parents pursuing a career in the legal field is making the switch from work mode to parenting mode after they leave the office. Having a separation between your working life and your home life is healthy for you as well as for your relationship with your children, so put your smartphone away when you arrive home and let those emails wait until morning, or at least until the kids are in bed.
If you find it difficult to stop thinking about work, start by asking your children what they did that day and force yourself to engage with their responses. Be encouraging if they show you pictures or models they have made or tell you about adventures they have had. Spending a few minutes hearing about your children’s day helps you to reconnect with them in preparation for having fun together.
It’s important to have some time set aside for your children every day, even if it’s only 20 minutes. Ideally, you should let your kids decide what you do together during this time. They might want you to read to them, to play a game together as a family, or they might want to discuss a problem with you.
When you’re not around all the time, it’s important for children to have some time with you in which they get to set the agenda. Don’t let other responsibilities encroach on this time unless it’s an emergency; if you have made a commitment to spend time with your kids, it’s important to fulfil your promise to avoid letting them down.
In addition, try to have a family activity planned for every weekend. It doesn’t have to be a grand excursion, as those can be time-consuming and stressful to organise: a simple trip to the park, meal with the grandparents, or barbecue on the back porch can be a fabulous bonding experience.
Remember that it’s quality, not quantity, that’s important when it comes to the time you spend with your children. As long as you are attentive, interested, and encouraging during the time you do spend with your kids, they will benefit from your parental input. Above all, don’t feel guilty for pursuing your dreams: working mums are fantastic role models for children and can offer as much love and support as a stay-at-home parent.