Every morning you scurry around your home preparing your family for the day. Walk the dog, pack lunches, zipper up the kids’ coats, grab backpacks and run out the door just in time to meet the school bus. You’re halfway to the office, mentally preparing for your work day, when you realize that you’ve forgotten critical presentation notes at home.
Welcome to the stressful life of a typical working parent. Being a parent is not easy and can be frustrating and stressful. But working parents face a double whammy when job stresses intensify parental pressures.
Parenting Stress Affects Work Performance
All jobs have some degree of stress. Being a parent comes with its own stressors. Combine the two and you have a recipe for too much stress that can affect job performance.
Parents worry at work even when children are well cared for in school, day care and babysitting arrangements. In addition to job issues, parents can be preoccupied with concerns such as:
- Separation anxiety and guilt
- Child care arrangements and transportation
- Unexpected schedule changes such as school weather-related early dismissal
- Communication disruptions
- Babysitting plans for upcoming school holidays and vacations
- Latchkey children for those old enough to be home alone
The pressure of these stressors can result in distractions and reduced productivity on the job.
Work Stresses Affect Parenting Wellness
You may leave work at the end of the day, but your brain doesn’t. It’s difficult not to let job stress spill over into your family life.
Children pick up on their parent’s stress which can cause feelings of shame and guilt. An inability to manage stress can affect all personal relationships. Compounding workplace stress with typical personal stressors such as financial, marital difficulties, troubled child or illness can add to existing family tensions.
Workplace stress may cause an employee’s performance to suffer. He or she may be unable to focus on tasks, and demonstrates poor time management. Work relationships may deteriorate, particularly team situations. Health issues may also be present.
If you’ve identified an employee whose work performance is suffering due to parental issues, counsel the manager or supervisor to make an EAP referral. An EAP professional can:
- Help identify workplace and parenting stressors
- Suggest techniques to manage workplace stress
- Work with the employee to develop a plan to handle family stress, including
- Daily, short-term and long-term planning
- Morning routines
- Day time communications
- End of day and returning home issues
- Time management
- Activities to connect family members
It’s probably impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives, but it should be feasible to manage it. An EAP professional can assist employees in working through both workplace and parenting stress to help the employee better cope with both.