April 9, 2024

The Working Parent Game of Life



Did you ever play those games when you were little?

The ones with the tiny ball bearings you had to tilt just right to get into their holes? It was like a never-ending challenge because every time you got one ball where it belonged, the others would pop out of place.

It kind of feels like life as a working parent.

Image those balls are the different parts of our lives as working parents.  

  • Parent
  • Partner
  • Professional
  • Personal

It’s like the working parent game of life: 

And there we are, trying to tilt the game of life just enough to get all those balls into their rightful holes at the same time.

It can drive you nuts, right? It’s frustrating. Sometimes, it feels downright impossible.

Recently, on a family holiday, my children took a photo of my husband and me. It felt like a real milestone—a shift in this chapter of our lives.

For the last ten years, we’ve been all about snapping photos of our children, not ourselves. 

So, having our children take a decent photo of us, without chopping off our heads or covering the lens with their fingers, felt like a coming-of-age moment.

But it signified more than that, too.

It made me realise how much we’ve let the “partner” ball slip down the priority list in recent years.  

And I wonder if you can relate to this, too.

In the early days of motherhood, the focus is all on that “parent” ball. The sheer energy it takes to tend to young babies, especially newborns, doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

As our babies grow and we start thinking about getting back to work, the “professional” ball gets thrown back into the mix. But with parenting and work taking up so much space, finding time for “personal” stuff—like hobbies or self-care—can seem like a distant dream.

And unfortunately, the “partner” ball often gets the short end of the stick. You just don’t have the energy or focus to nurture the relationship like you used to, especially after a long day of juggling everything else.

I recently heard Dr Karen Guerney, Clinical Psychologist, Psychosexologist and Couples Therapist talk about the impact of parenthood on partnership.  She shared that body changes, sleep deprivation, lack of time, shifts in identities and the distribution of the parentload all have a dramatic effect on our relationships.

I’ve been there with my husband. There were times when it felt really tough. Times when I wondered if we’d make it through the chaos of parenting young kids.

But there’s something about this phase of life now. Our children are a bit more independent. They can play on their own. They need us a little less….or at least in different ways. 

And that’s opened up some space and energy for the partner ball to bounce back into play, hopefully even stronger than before.

Can you relate to the working parent game of life?

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you agree that the partner ball often gets deprioritised in the hustle and bustle of working parenthood? How do you make time to nurture your relationship with your partner (if you have one)?

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