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How to Handle Parenting Duties When Your Career is Booming

Oct 09, 2019 4 min read Megan D. Williams

Key Takeaways

  • Budget for extra help if you can.
  • Tap into your support system.
  • Plan ahead for logistics and childcare.



Advancing in your career can mean more money and prestige. But along with those perks can come longer hours and mandatory business travel, which can be especially tricky for working parents.

Amy Rosenow knows firsthand how challenging it can be to balance career and family obligations. She was promoted to chief operating officer of an investment firm while on maternity leave, and the Chicago-based mother of two has been firing on all cylinders ever since. She's now CEO and co-founder of a software tool that helps working parents handle schedules and logistics.

“It's nearly impossible to stay focused at work if you are worrying about your kids," she says. “Having reliable, loving childcare is the glue that holds our family together." For Rosenow and her husband (who has a demanding job as a surgeon), that means budgeting for a full-time nanny even though her kids are now in school. The nanny provides coverage in case “someone is sick or there's no school one day or during the whole summer," she explains.

Not every household budget can accommodate a full-time nanny, but there are still ways to ensure your parental duties don't take a back seat as your career reaches heights you've never seen or expected. Consider these strategies.


Where possible, budget for more than the bare minimum of childcare

Childcare can be expensive, but Rosenow recommends budgeting for more childcare than you think you need. For instance, she says, if your kids attend a daycare that closes at 6:00 and you're constantly fighting traffic to arrive by 5:59, it might be worth investigating other options to give yourself more breathing room. Perhaps it's paying a babysitter to do the evening pickup from daycare and start dinner or finding a daycare that stays open later.

Rosenow says her family has cut back on travel and Saturday evenings out to offset the cost of their nanny. She feels that trade-off is well worth it “in terms of your ability to make life work with a reasonable amount of happiness day to day."


Use your support network

If hiring extra help isn't an option or to supplement regular childcare, enlist help from family members or your broader support network. “I am a huge believer in 'it takes a village'," says Rosenow. She doesn't have any family members nearby, so it's important to her that she has a list of friends or neighbors she can call or email in a bind. For instance, if her nanny gets sick and she needs someone to watch the kids while she's in an important meeting and her husband performs surgery. “There's comfort in knowing that if anything went off the rails, it's not all on our shoulders," she says.

Some churches, synagogues, parent groups, and other communities have babysitting coops that allow you to trade off watching each other's kids for free. Also look for local parent's night out events where, for a small fee, parents can drop off kids under supervision and a night out without the kids.


Keep your calendars current

Careful planning of meals and childcare can help reduce last-minute headaches. In two-career households, both partners should discuss what business trips or kids' activities are coming up, who is driving the kids to soccer or dance, and what the kids need to bring. That way, they can both fill in any transportation or childcare gaps. Every Sunday, Rosenow and her husband plan out the family schedule in two-week increments. “It only takes a tiny bit more time to get the two-week habit set up," Rosenow says. “But the time and stress it saves you by not having to drop everything when you realize at the last minute there is a conflict that you could have reasonably foreseen is immense."


What you can do next

Even with meticulous planning and an army of childcare providers, sometimes things go wrong or the balance between work and home may still feel out of whack. Accepting the ebbs and flows of a busy schedule is a good lesson for kids to learn too. “Some days, weeks or months will tilt in different directions, but I view this as part of living a full, productive life," Rosenow says. “When I reflect on a week or month and I feel the balance is off, then I adjust, but day-to-day 'balance' for me is not a realistic goal."


Susan Johnston Taylor has written about personal finance and business for The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Fast Company and U.S. News & World Report.


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