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How do I balance my career with parenting time?

Many parents devote themselves to their careers and their children equally. Though they always strive to put their children first, they may have high aspirations for their work life, and that is not a bad thing. It can be difficult to balance though, especially when they aren't married to their children's other parent.

If this sounds like your life, you probably know all too well how tough it can be to manage both childcare and work while coordinating with another person who may even have his or her own work life. Sharing custody of children can be difficult even when you aren't devoting yourself to a career outside the home. Fortunately, experts say that there are several ways for parents to manage both their jobs and their parenting time.

How to handle your children

Most parents would agree that their children's needs come first. Still, when you're trying to determine a custody plan, it is very easy to lose sight of what is best for your children when you're trying to ensure that you are also devoted to your career. Experts say that keeping the kids and their needs front and center is the best strategy. They advise thinking of what your children need day-to-day and how your work schedule can fit in around that.

Also, when you are working on creating that schedule, experts caution against overwhelming yourself. Some parents may think that they can make themselves available when that isn't the case. It's important to only commit to what you know you can handle. This way, you don't have to miss time with your kids just for work.

How to handle your job

When you get that schedule worked out, see if your job can offer any flexibility to maximize your time with your children. Communicating with your boss or manager about what you might need before you actually need it will show that you are organized and committed to your job. Many employers understand how important parenting is and the unique demands that go along with co-parenting, so companies may be willing to accommodate.

How to handle your ex

If you have certain expectations for the other parent of your children, you need to be mindful to follow those same expectations. For example, if you think your ex should always be available to pick up your children from school when he or she is caring for them, then you should hold yourself to the same standard. Keeping this in mind can help minimize arguments.

How to handle the court

If you know that you cannot care for your children after school because of work, that may not be a deal-breaker for the court when determining custody. This is true especially if you make the effort to prearrange care for the children at those times. Courts generally understand that parents may have to work and may be open to others caring for the children temporarily. They know it is unfair to punish a parent who is attempting to provide financially for his or her children.

The bottom line is that you don't have to choose between your job and your children. There are ways to have plenty of parenting time with your kids while still advancing in your career. Their needs may always come first, but you can have a thriving work life, too.

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