Couples often spend years imagining and planning their path toward parenthood. They want to make sure that they are financially, physically, and emotionally prepared to welcome their little ones into their lives. So…when the children finally arrive, those best-laid plans usually go straight into the used diaper bin. Sound familiar? It can be quite surprising how much upheaval each new member of the family can bring. And yet, with all the ongoing adjustments and endless transitions, few challenges compare to the daily grind of caring for your children while maintaining a career.

It was once assumed that women would stay home to raise children while men worked. (Also, diaper bin.) Now that those roles are no longer the norm, it’s often difficult for families to decide how they’ll manage childcare, career, and footing the bill for it all. Some formerly career-oriented parents find themselves eager to spend more time at home once a child arrives whilst others are still driven to climb the next rung on the company ladder. When the time comes to decide how you’ll balance your career ambitions while raising a child, you may want to keep these helpful suggestions in mind:

Be realistic about your budget: Yes, I know you have heard this before but, with childcare these days often eating up one parent’s full salary, it might make sense for either mom or dad to stay home. When deciding whether to be “house-bound” or to enlist help, parents must look at the decision from a long-term perspective — if taking a few years off would mean you would have to take a major pay cut when you re-enter the workforce, you may want to reconsider.

Give yourself a break: Every parent needs time off from changing diapers and reading storybooks. Even if you have to call in favors from family or hire a babysitter for date night, taking some child-free time for yourself will allow you to recharge and be a better parent in the long run. Perhaps in your neighborhood you could set up a token system where you can hand your chips in for free time with other parents. That way everyone comes out winning!

Set boundaries: When you’re relying on members of your inner circle for help with childcare, it’s easy to find yourself with too many cooks in the kitchen. Whether you’re dealing with a grandparent who is determined to sneak your children treats or a sibling whose style is stricter than yours, it’s imperative that you put your foot down when you feel your boundaries are being crossed. Just because you’re on the receiving end of a favor doesn’t mean you have tocompromise on your values. Clearly stating how you would feel supported encourages those around you to support you in the best way possible. At the end of the day it is about the children too.

Remember that it’s only temporary: Especially on days when you feel a little bit disheartened. It is definitely a marathon you are running and not a sprint. Stay present and be mindful of what you have accepted together. The first years of your child’s life may seem interminably long, but in the blink of an eye, they truly do become teenagers who want to spend as little time at home as possible as the world opens up to them. Parenting can make even the most compassionate individuals crazy once in a while! OMG! I feel like I have  been talking ga-ga for so many years so, keep this old adage in mind: the days are long, but the rewards are plenty…You’ll see!

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