« Even if we’ve found a way to reconcile our non-standard work schedules with our family life, our daily routine is still pretty exhausting, » confides the young mother. « And on top of that, I often feel guilty for not being able to do everything! »
Amélie and Jean-François, parents of 18-month-old Gabriel, have work schedules that are a challenge to manage. Amélie is a nurse who works at a hospital from 4 p.m. to midnight, 5 days a week and every other weekend. Jean-François, who works as a roofer, gets up at 5:30 a.m. and sometimes comes home very late in the evening. In the summer, it’s not unusual for him to finish after 8 p.m.
“The household routine has to be ultra-structured,” explains Amélie. “In the morning, Gabriel wakes up at around 7:30 a.m., and I get up with him. After lunch, we go to the park. When we get back, he takes a nap and I shower. Then, at around 3 p.m., I drop him off at daycare and head for the hospital.”
“Fortunately, we found a spot in a home daycare that offers an evening schedule. Our little Gabriel can then stay there until his father picks him up at the end of his workday.”
“Even if we’ve found a way to reconcile our non-standard work schedules with our family life, our daily routine is still pretty exhausting,” confides the young mother. “And on top of that, I often feel guilty for not being able to do everything!”
“We had to learn to make choices, such as bringing our son to play in the park instead of vacuuming. Our house is a mess, we’re 4 loads of laundry behind and we don’t have time to prepare meals, other than those for Gabriel. But we have to set priorities and accept that everything can’t be perfect.”
Nancy Doyon, family coach and specialized educator, believes parents shouldn’t aim for perfection. She does, however, believe that one of the keys to successfully reconciling work and family is good organization. A good trick for preparing meals is to cook in advance and double or triple the quantities to be able to freeze extra portions. She also recommends planning meals over 3 weeks to cut down on trips to the grocery store. “When you get back from the supermarket, you can wash and cut your vegetables ahead of time and ask your children to give you a hand.” Doyon adds that you can even delegate tasks to toddlers. “From 18 months on, they can put their toys away in a box. And at 3 years old, they can make their own beds,” she says.