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Children and Career - Mastering the Juggling Act

Published:Sunday | June 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMGlenford Smith

From pregnancy to preschool, grade one to GSAT, and first form to first degree - the innumerable demands of children on their working parents can take a significant toll on their careers The most obvious form this takes is time off from work.

Prenatal check-ups, maternity leave, emergency school and doctor visits, regular parents-day activities, and graduations all translate into time off the job.

There are other, less obvious, but no less real, areas of impact, however. These include the physical, emotional, financial, and relationship strains which caring parents have to cope with, while being responsible professionals.

Of course, there's no either/or option for working parents. They can't choose between their children and their careers. So, they simply accept the juggling act as par for the course, and do the best they can. Can you relate?

Are you in the midst of juggling graduation, planning for your children's summer and preparing for their upcoming school year? If so, here are five tips to help you win the game.

1. Plan ahead

Anticipate, plan for and schedule child-related activities that will impact work. This includes such things as graduation, PTA meetings, dental visits, or special school events. Planning gives you more control and allows your colleagues and superiors to regard you as being responsible and professional.

2. Communicate

Keeping your superiors and affected colleagues informed on when you'll need an extended lunch break or a departmental leave is crucial. Make that 'responsible', as well.

People will feel disrespected and taken for granted if their support and understanding are required without them being kept in the loop. Remember, your personal and family business become office business when it affects your work.

3. Make withdrawals from your relational bank account

Now, there's a famous saying that goes, 'seek a friend before you need a friend.' Take this bit of folk wisdom seriously. It's not going to be cute to ask someone to cover for, or assist you, when you have never helped out that person before, or been even nice to them. That said, ask colleagues, friends and relatives to help when there's a need.

4. Be outstanding

in your job

This is absolutely critical. If you're a mediocre worker, you make the children-career juggling game harder. You see, neither your superiors nor colleagues will be amused by your intention to come in late, leave early or take a day off when you have a record of not pulling your weight.

Earn the reputation as an 'extra-miler.' as someone who works hard, gets excellent results, and can be relied on, no matter what.

5. Practice fairness

If you know you came in late due to an early-morning meeting with your child's form teacher, for example, don't be the first one to grab your stuff and head out the door at the stroke of five. If your boss routinely grants your request to attend to family matters, but tells you no this one time, don't sulk and give him/her an attitude. Keep score and play fair; others will take note if you don't.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email: