When you walk into the office or log on to your home office computer to start the day, it may feel as if you’ve already put in a full day of work just getting your child out the door and settled in at child care!

Let’s talk about a few of the common challenges working parents face each day and how to overcome them.

  1. Constant Chaos: You’re running late, can’t find the shoes that fit and you and your partner both thought the other refilled the diaper bag yesterday.

Routines are important when it comes to managing a work/school day. Stick to the same schedule as much as possible, doing things in the same order, with tasks assigned to each parent. The night before put shoes and backpacks by the door and lay out clothes. Even setting out what’s needed for breakfast and putting the coffee on a timer so it’s ready when you get up makes a morning so much smoother. 

  1. The Dreaded Drop-off: The teacher has to unpeel your screaming toddler from you so you can leave for work.

Make drop off as positive as possible. Nobody wants to start the day crying. Be intentional about making drop off a happy time by reassuring them that they’ll have fun and you will be back. Leave home early enough to allow time for the transition to school (about 5 minutes is all it takes). This gives you a chance to see your child in action, allows time to update teachers on what your child needs, hear what they’ve got planned and cultivate a strong home-school partnership. Hint: at pickup, ask what’s happening tomorrow so you can talk about it on the way to school in the morning.

  1. Out of Sight…: Your child cries before nap because they want you. And you miss them during the day too.

Stay connected throughout the day, as you are able. Sending a quick 15 second video of you saying hello (ask for one back!), sending pictures to school with your child, or even dressing in the same color and making a big deal of it as you go through your morning can help them (and you) feel more connected – “We’re both wearing red today. Every time I look at my shirt today I’m going to think about how much I love you and can’t wait to play with you tonight.” 

  1. Short on Time: You feel like time with your child is all business because there’s so little time at night to connect.

Surprises are important. Be intentional about surprising your child with something they love, which is special moments with you! Pick them up early, stop for doughnuts on the way to school, have a picnic at the park for dinner or whatever would be fun for your child. We all love to be surprised with something special. Remember, shhh! The element of surprise is what makes it fun.

  1. The Mrs. Mom Dilemma: You sneak up to watch your child playing and hear him call the teacher “mom”. You are devastated.

It’s important to support a strong attachment between your child and their teacher so your child feels comfortable at school. This attachment is secondary, of course, to you and your child’s relationship even if your child calls her teacher ‘mom’. If you’ve ever watched other people’s children, you know how common it is for a child to call you “mom” by mistake. They are happy, playing, relaxed, and they feel safe, just like they do at home. It makes perfect sense that they would call their teacher ‘mom’ when they need something. Always look for the reasons behind what a child does and remember, your child needs you, loves you, and you’re always his favorite person.

No matter the challenges you face with your children on a day to day basis, being a working parent is hard. For more tips on parenting, tune into my podcast “Parenting in the First Three Years” for actionable takeaways to make your life easier.

Ann McKitrick founded Nurtured Noggins, a comprehensive resource for parents and host of Parenting in the First 3 Years Podcast. A frequent conference speaker, she's a parenting coach and early childhood specialist with 30 years of experience in higher education. Ann also provides online professional development for thousands of childcare professionals each year through her online business, Texas Child Care Training. Credentials include MS in Human Development and Family Studies; BS in Education; Master Level Trainer in a state Early Childhood Professional Development System, requiring continuing education; certified CIRCLE Trainer, Child Care Health Consultant, and Relationship Development Intervention Consultant. Ann resides near Houston, Texas, where she's a happy empty-nester, Camp Gladiator enthusiast, Mom, and Mimi, and leads women's personal growth groups.