Before kids, you were a pretty kick ass career person. But now that you’re a working parent, you often feel the tough tug between curating the career that you love, and snuggling with your babies, too. Thing is, being a working mom or dad is a one-or-the-other deal. You don’t have to forget about your fam when you’re at the office, or vice versa. Stay connected to your child while you’re working with these top tips.
Take Time To Talk
If your tween always wants to dish about the latest dramas at school, make a set time each day to chat with her. If you’re stuck at the office when she gets home from school, take ten minutes or so from your workday to listen to who’s crushing on who, and what she got on that math quiz she spent days studying for. Don’t just “uh huh” or “that’s nice, Sweetie” your way through the convo, though. Make sure that for those few minutes, you’re focused completely on her, and not sorting through those piles of papers on your desk.
Write A Note
If your child is part of the cold lunch crew, sneak a little note into her lunchbox before heading off to work. It can be as simple as wishing her a great day, an “I love you,” or even a silly little riddle you found online. And if your kid eats hot lunch? Tuck the note into her book bag instead. For older kids, a quick text with an appropriate emoji can be a perfect pick-me-up (and show your child that you’re thinking of her) during boring Bio class.
Keep A Journal
For most kids, “work” is an abstract term. They know you make money from your job, but they might be clueless as to what you actually do, no matter how times you try to explain it. So if your child wonders what you really do all day, write it down in a notebook or a Google doc. But be sure to use terms that your kid can understand; after all, “created sales pitch for VP execs” doesn’t hold much meaning for a 3-year-old. Make it easy to understand, and more importantly, make sure that you convey to your child how much you enjoy your work so she learns that work is fun, not drudgery.
Have Lunch Together
You hit the same sad salad bar every single day for lunch. So why not change up your lunch routine and make a date with the handsomest guy around (aka your son)? If your child has a half day or is even off from school, forego fast food and meet up with your child for a slice and some apple juice. Or treat him to some California rolls from the sushi place that you always rave about. Not only will spending time in the middle of the day together reinvigorate you for the rest of your work day, but it will build better bonding, too.
Send A Message
Little ones love to hear the sound of their parents’ voices. So whether it’s on her iTouch, her iPhone or even a simple micro recorder, leave a happy message to your child telling him how much you love him. And if you’re planning to stay late at the office, you can read his favorite picture book over the phone so that way you can still share bedtime together, even if you’re (still) stuck at your desk.
Create Your Handprint
Create a new version of the Kissing Hand for your child! Make it as a super easy DIY craft project to do over the weekend by outlining and cutting out your hand print as well as your child’s. Hit the craft store and stock up on fun crafting supplies, like non-toxic paints, sequins, feathers, glitter, and glue. Decorate them together and let them dry. Take your child’s handprint to the office with you and let your little one keep yours by his bed, in case he ever needs to hold onto (or kiss) Mommy’s hand
Map It Out
If your child clings to you when you’re walking out the door in the morning, you can create a cute map to show where you work. Pinpoint where your office is, and where your home is. Not only will it allay fears that you’re too far away (and might not come back), but your child will be able to visualize that, according to the map, you’re really only a few millimeters away from each other.
Bring A Gift
Sure, bribery isn’t always the best option, but if you’ve been out of town for several days on a business trip to Boise, bringing home a small token of your travels to your child is perfectly acceptable. Ideally, it should be something small (not the new Xbox, for example), but it definitely should relate to your child’s interests—like a baseball jersey from that state—to simply show that even though you’re working, your child is never, ever far from your thoughts.