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Avoid These Common Mistakes Working Parents Make

working parenthood

Avoid These Common Mistakes Working Parents Make

You can listen to our interview in full on our iTunes podcast here or a direct download for all devices here.

Daisy is a busy mom of 2 and an expert in helping working parents achieve satisfaction and fulfillment in both their careers and their personal life, particularly those in high pressure,very demanding careers.  She is a pioneer of publishing parenting articles on the Harvard Business Review and resides with her husband and children in the bustling New York City.  

The Three Biggest Mistakes Working Parents Make

Daisy shares the three mistakes people make when trying to achieve work and parenting balance and how they can be avoided. 

1.  Not realizing that being a working parent is different than a working non-parent. 

mistake 1Daisy says, "If up to this point in your career, you have been the hardest working person in the office, this may have been a very successful strategy for years, but it is not a good strategy to employ as a working parent.  Being the hardest working person will not be the best strategy for you as a working parent because it will not be sustainable. If you continue to try to be the hardest working person in your career, you will become exhausted and you will not have the time you need to cover all the things that you want to do at home and spend the time with your family."

How to avoid it: Realize new skills.  Daisy says, "Realize you are in a different game.  Identify the professional skills that you need to develop in order to succeed.  If you were the hardest working person prior to kids, think about becoming the most efficient in getting projects done.  You can also be the most judicious in terms of how you pick projects."

2.  Trying to do it all yourself.

number twoDaisy says, "Individuals who are in high pressure, very successful careers know how to work very hard, very long hours, push through any obstacle and get things done. This approach, when applied to working parenthood, is exhausting.  It also does not set you up for success. The time old phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child' has endured for a reason.  You need as much help as you possibly can to raise a child, particularly when you’re working 8-10-12-14 hours a day on top of it."

How to avoid it:  Figure out your resources for help with the children and tap into them.
 Daisy says, "Help can come in the form of a spouse or partner, volunteers, grandparents, neighbors, friends, school community, or paid helpers at home.  Identify what your resources are and tap into them.  Do not be a doer.  Instead, think about how to involve your whole community or your whole village."

3.  Not communicating clearly with superiors and colleagues about your plan for working parenthood. 

mistake # 3

Daisy says, "For example, I worked with a woman recently who came back from a maternity leave and upon her return, she was not telling people what she wanted. She is a very ambitious and very hardworking individual yet she found that her colleagues and her managers in the office were not giving her assignments that she really needed to undertake in order to continue proving herself and to move ahead in her career."

How to avoid it: Communicate directly with your superiors and colleagues, specifically be explicit that your career goals are the same as they were prior to becoming a parent.  Daisy says, "Be clear with your boss and colleagues on what your career goals are or that they have not changed since having a child.  Have a meeting with your boss or colleague and say directly, 'You know I’m a working parent now, but here is my plan for approaching it effectively and please consider my hand raised for all the kinds of assignments that you would have given me a year ago or three years ago before I was a working parent and not just a working professional.'"

How And When To Discuss Career Goals With Superiors

Daisy suggests using the natural point of returning from parental leave, when there is a conversation with your superior welcoming you back, to re-emphasize your career goals.  The key? Daisy says to take control of that conversation, perhaps more so than you normally would in another type of meeting.  

it's all about the framing

The strategy, Daisy emphasizes, is to have a plan of how you present your new working habits.  For example, first express how "eager" you are to be back at work.  Secondly, express how you will continue to get your work done.  For example, if you suggest that you will leave the office by a certain point each day, also suggest that you will be available later in the evening.  "Be direct," she says.  

Also, be aware of how you frame your working strategy as the way you frame the conversation can completely change your superior's perception of it.  Daisy continues, "If you can go into your boss and say “Well, I need to leave the office by 6PM.”, this is one way to frame the issue.  Another way to frame it is to say, “Listen, Bill. I want you to know that I’m going to be able to deliver all of the projects that you ask me to do. I am going to work very late into the evening and you will be receiving emails from me late at night but I’m certain that I’m going to be able to cover off all the work that you ask me to do.” This is a way of framing the conversation around your performance and your commitment as opposed to talking about needs or timing or what’s different than it used to be in the past."

Sometimes, these conversations may feel awkward.  Daisy's advice? "Most of us are not used to talking about personal responsibilities with our boss," she says. "But once you get across that awkwardness, people find that their manager is very receptive to that conversation. Don’t forget that many bosses, managers, and colleagues are dealing with some version of the same problem."

How To Rely On Your Village, Guilt-Free

Often, we feel guilty when "delegating" childcare duties to our "village".  How can we overcome this guilt? Daisy has some great advice.  

your village

She shares a story from here Dad friend.  She says, "My friend is present and he very active in his children's life."  He also has a village to help care for his children.  She continues,  "He shared with me that to the extent that his children have interested, committed, loving, warm, thoughtful adults who are not him, whether they be relatives, whether they be teachers, whether they be babysitters, whether they be neighbors down the street who are involved in his children's lives: that's only a plus. The more adults who are supportive and involved with your children, the better off they are. They know that they can trust and rely on other people in addition to their parents, which is a very healthy thing. It's really important to remember that you can be the most prominent person in your child's life without being the only person in your child’s life."

Cheers to that! Have more questions? Leave them in the comments below. 


by Allie Wieser

You can listen to our interview in full on our iTunes podcast here or a direct download for all devices here. 

More on Daisy Dowling

Daisy has 20+ years of experience working with high pressure finance firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Blackstone to coach working parents on how to manage work and parenting balance.  

HBR articles:

About The Parenting Journal
The Parenting JournalAre you a busy parent who does not have time to read the latest scientific studies and experts' finding on parenting? I know how it goes.  I am one too.  This is why I created The Parenting Journal.  We research the hundreds of scientific studies and experts' findings published every day and create very short weekday newsletters that contain, as one reader put it, "actionable and insightful parenting advice that does not require much reading." Curious? Sign up for free now.  Hope to see you soon!

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