Working Parents: Dealing with the Demands of Two Careers

One of the biggest issues that two-career families face as they make their way up two very different corporate ladders is finding a balance between family needs and work goals. Your job may demand that you work 60 hours per week to get ahead, and the bosses that be in your workplace could frown upon your need to, say, leave at three to take care of a sick child. If your spouse's workplace is just as unfriendly to family needs, both you and your spouse could be stuck between a rock and a hard place. So what's a two-career family to do? Let's take a look.

Work Out a Balanced Solution that Works for Everyone

One way to balance the needs of family and two workplaces is to work together to create harmony. This can be more difficult than it sounds, though, because you're really talking about finding a balance for you, your spouse, your children, your bosses, and each of your co-workers. So let's address each of these.

  • Striking a Deal with Your Spouse: Working out a schedule of sorts for family events can help you and your spouse lessen the amount of time you must each be away from the job. You could alternate emergencies and school events, for example; one parent takes care of a sick child one day, and the other parent can take on the responsibilities for the next day.
  • Talking it out with the Bosses: While many bosses may be understanding of family responsibilities, some aren't so open. If either or both of your bosses severely frown upon taking time to care for a sick child, the situation may call for a heart-to-heart with each boss. Ask what you can do to make up the time; offering to work a few hours on a weekend may help you stay in good standing on the ladder momentum.
  • Appeasing Co-Workers: Some co-workers might also have issue with taking time off, so if you're putting anyone out by leaving early, it may be helpful to thank them and offer up your help in another project. Chocolate also goes a long way toward easing animosity.
  • Explaining Work Needs to Children: Kids may not quite get it that your careers make it difficult to attend every event, so it's helpful to explain exactly who will be at a school function and when you can attend the next event.

Enlist Help

Sometimes, it still could be difficult to find a balance, even with two parents, understanding bosses and gracious co-workers. If you find yourself in a jam time and time again, it might be time to call in the reserves. Friends, family, babysitters and other trusted people in your life could become stand-ins on sick days, school events and school cancellation days.

Juggling two careers with the responsibilities of raising kids can be difficult, but there is hope for finding balance. Working out a schedule with the spouse, talking to people in the workplace, helping your children understand and asking for help from loved ones can all help you find the Zen in a busy, two-career household.

Any other tips out there from our readers? How do you make career and family meld?

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Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Wed, 08/08/2012 - 19:53 Comment #: 1

So timely. We're going to have to be figuring this out soon in the not-so-distant future.

Anonymous's picture

AverageJoe wrote:

Fri, 08/10/2012 - 15:12 Comment #: 2

I've also found that people at work without kids aren't as excited about them as I am. I try not to talk about my kids at work much so that when I DO need a favor and bring up my family, they're happy to help out because it seems like an exception. We had a couple people at my old office who always talked about how they had to run to kid events all the time. I did too, but didn't bring them up except when I needed help.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 09/03/2012 - 17:44 Comment #: 3

Femme, good luck in your new adventure!

Joe, great tip! I know that some people don't want to talk kids, and your approach is excellent for those situations.