The Challenges of Working and Parenting

Photo Courtesy: Lidija and Zdenek Kovarik

These days, it’s very common for both parents in a family, to work full-time to run the house. Although, this makes a family financially secure, when it comes to managing responsibilities, things do get a bit stretched. This month we spoke to Lidija Kovarik, and her husband Zdenek, who offer insights into their life as ‘working parents.’

Lidija is a manager, at the Museum of Senses, and Zdenek works at The Holiday Inn. They’ve been living in Prague for the past nine years and have two daughters- Anna (6 years) and Emily (3). Here they tell us about their challenges of managing home and children’s responsibilities while working full-time.

Lidija tells us that they work in a schedule where their weekly mornings and afternoons are divided as hers with the children or her husband’s.

I wake up before 6 o’clock every morning to start my day early. My husband’s flexible working hours, help him to easily manage driving the girls to school during ‘his days’ of the week. Additionally, every Monday, a nanny helps us with the girls. She brings them home take care of homework, and plays with them for two hours.

Anna pursues a lot of hobbies- yoga, ceramics, dance, violin and golf once per week. For some hobbies, we don’t have to drive her to a class, as the teacher comes over at home. This saves us a lot of time and effort. However, sometimes we do have to make difficult choices, for instance, Anna had to stop attending acting lessons due to our work schedule. And this was not an easy decision for her. The key to such situations is allowing your child to sort out their priorities on their own. Just let them decide what they want to keep or give up.

Do you both get enough time to spend with each other and the kids? Does work get in the way?

I’m always listening to my children’s thoughts and opinions. Every day before going to bed we talk about our feelings and emotions – we try to divide, simplify and understand them. Once a week, we go to church. All these activities allow us to spend quality time together.

Being a stay-at-home-mom or dad does not guarantee that parents and children spend quality time together. Quality time is when you have time to just speak to one another and do an activity without the distraction of duties and electronic devices. When you have less time to spend with your child, both you and your child appreciate it more. And you both try to make the most of it. So, I would say we do spend less time with our children than stay-at-home or part- time working parents, but we do ensure that we spend quality time together.

Photo Courtesy Lidija and Zdenek Kovarik

Are there any advantages for the children of working parents?

Yes, kids become more independent. Every day when we spend time with our children, we involve them in all the household chores or jobs: like taking care of laundry, tending to the garden, cleaning, cooking, shopping for grocery. I’ve even taught Anna to do her homework by herself daily. She also reads for half an hour daily.

Also, quite often, when both parents are working, families have more income, which means more toys or vacations. Kids are smart- they often notice these things and understand that in order to have these things, mommy and daddy have to work hard.

What about disadvantages and difficulties? What advice would you give parents?

When we as parents do not have time to do something for our children, they may become angry or frustrated. Seeing this might be difficult for us, but we also need to recognize that these are normal legitimate feelings. I believe it is essential that we take time to speak with kids about the ways work affects our life and encourage them to share their feelings about it.

Also, I think that it is very important that parents take some time off for themselves. Even if it is just one hour of hobbies per week or watching a movie together during nap-time. If parents explain this to kids in a clear way, they will understand and get used to giving you some time off, which will allow you to ‘reset’ and be all ready for coming back to your responsibilities. I’ve done this with my girls and they know that mummy sometimes just needs some “off- time”.