Balancing Your Personal and Professional Goals with Family Life: Tips for Women

Compared to men, women can face certain unique challenges when it comes to setting and reaching goals. There are often greater expectations placed on women as family caregivers than on men. Even in a relationship that strives for equality, you may find yourself spending more time taking care of your children and your entire family than your partner does. The tips below can help you achieve some balance between your obligations and your goals.

Identify Your Goals

Your first step must be to identify your goals. You might have a very clear idea of what they are, or you may need to do some brainstorming in order to come up with some. Even if you’re in the former position, it’s worthwhile to take some time to interrogate your goals and make sure that they still apply and that they are worded in a way that is concrete and time-limited. This degree of specificity makes it possible to measure your progress. If you want to go back to school at some point for additional education and training, give yourself a time limit and be specific about what you’re going to study. Choose just two or three goals to focus on at first, such as one that is short-term, one that is medium-term and one long-term. Write down the steps that you’ll need to take to achieve each one. Break these down as much as you need to in order to fully understand what it takes to move from one step to the next.

Be Explicit About Duties

If you’re a single parent, you’re in a particularly difficult position since you don’t have someone to share the parenting load with. However, you need to plan your week effectively and your kids can and should still take on some domestic responsibilities unless they are infants or toddlers. This is true even if you’re not a single parent. Giving them these tasks not only frees up some of your time but is good for them as well because it teaches them to be more responsible. If the father is in the picture, be explicit about what each of your duties are. The school may default to always calling you if your kids are sick, or the responsibility of going to parent-teacher meetings may naturally fall to you. Try to divide these tasks between the two of you instead.

Helping with College Planning

There may be other aspects of parenting that are more timeconsuming, but few will be as much of a strain on your financial resources as sending your child to college. These financial demands can affect your personal and professional goals as this may not be the right time to take a step like starting your own business. Making a plan for how you will help pay for your child’s education can help mitigate this to some extent. One option is to take out a loan for your child. Taking advantage of parent loans for college are one way to come up with some of the cash needed to cover tuition and other costs while ensuring that your own financial resources, such as your retirement account, are not drained. It also helps reduce the load of student loan debt your child has to carry.

Dealing with Guilt

It’s common for women to deal with guilt for pursuing their own goals even when those goals ultimately help the entire family or when their actions make them a great role model for their kids. You might feel as though you need to be devoting yourself more thoroughly to taking care of your children and family even though you strongly believe in yourself and the importance of women striving for success in many different contexts. This guilt may never fully go away even when it doesn’t really reflect your true belief system. It can be tough to escape the societal message that you’re never doing or sacrificing enough for your family. One strategy is to put it into perspective and remind yourself that this is a belief imposed from outside that doesn’t reflect your true ideals. It’s also helpful to remember how important it is for children to see their mother as someone who is a full human being with her own interests and ambitions.

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