Becoming a parent can shift your attitude and priorities around work. For some, work issues don’t seem as significant but for others, the pressure of having to provide for your family can make work seem more important.
The first study into the effects of a parent’s working life on their children has concluded “jobs that are overly demanding at the expense of family time put the mental health of employees’ children at risk.”
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and La Trobe University studied around 2,500 working couples and their children over a 10 year period as part of the ‘Growing Up in Australia’ research project.
Lead researcher Dr Huong Dinh from ANU said “when parents struggle to juggle family and work responsibilities, they become tired, stressed, cranky and unhappy, which has an impact on family relationships and their children’s wellbeing.”
Co-researcher Professor Lyndall Strazdins added that “the onset and persistence of conflicts between parents’ work and family life led to greater mental health problems in children, including withdrawal and anxiety, compared to children of parents with little to no work-life challenges.”
Many parents feel pressure to perform their best at both home and work but this juggling act and expectations and demands from each side, can create a high stress environment.
If you’re already concerned that this might be you – don’t worry, there are things you can do to turn your situation around.
It’s not always easy, and the perfect work-life balance probably doesn’t exist, but the main thing is figuring out what’s important to you and what works for your family.
Having an open and honest discussion with your partner about your roles within and outside your home is a good place to start. This might involve:
- Looking at strategies to manage your work role. Flexible working conditions might seem impossible for many but depending on your employer, there might be some small changes or new habits that you can try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Working from home every now and again or negotiating your work hours so you’re home before your children go to bed – even just a couple of times a week can make a big difference.
- Setting yourself boundaries around how much you work at home and how often you check your emails around your children.
Having a healthy relationship with your partner and children also contributes to good mental health and a healthier environment at home. If you have any issues resolving family conflict you can find practical advice and support on the Healthy Families site.
Read more tips on creating a healthy work-life balance
Find out more about taking care of yourself and staying well
Learn about your rights at work around flexible working arrangements