The Secrets to Success for Working Parents

Mom walking kindergarten-aged daughter to school

In an episode of “The Work-Life Equation,” a Bright Horizons podcast for working parents, Jodi Detjen, author of “The Orange Line: A Woman’s Guide to Integrating Career, Family, and Life,” spoke about the secrets of successful working parents — specifically, working moms. 

As described in Jodi’s book, a woman’s career typically follows one of three trajectories. The Green Line is career-centric, and everything else gets squeezed in around it; the Red Line is the opposite…it’s all about life, and career is squeezed in, if possible. And the Orange Line is the sweet spot — it involves integrating all aspects of life, instead of trading one for the other.

Episode 28: The Work-Life Equation Podcast

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Or, take a look at some of her findings:

  1. You don’t have to do it all, all the time. 
  2. Instead, focus on the things that are most important for both your career and your family. Do you really need to check your email during dinnertime with your family? And, do you really need to spend the time to make every single meal from scratch? Focus on what’s most impactful and when that impact matters. For example: staying an extra five minutes at the office so you can “unplug” once you get home and  finding shortcuts like pre-cut veggies or healthy pre-made mixes that can make cooking easier.

  3. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. 
  4. You might have the mindset that, in order to get something done, you have to do it yourself. And you might even think that you’re the only one who can do it the right way. This becomes a tug-o-war — if your spouse or child thinks that they won’t do something “right,” such as loading the dishwasher, they’ll eventually end up not wanting, or even trying, to do it at all. Then, it becomes your job forever. Instead, embrace “good enough.” Things may not get done your way, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong! If your spouse lets dishes sit in the sink overnight, doesn’t fit as many into the dishwasher as you, but does eventually gets them done, you can learn to live with it.

  5. You can share responsibilities.
  6. Shouldering all of the heavy lifting will put you on the fast track to parenting burn-out. If you co-parent with a spouse or partner, lighten your mental load, and think equality. Help each other prioritize both career and family, find trade-offs, and make sure you’re both involved in important decisions. Work together to come up with a schedule that allows you both to experience school events, attend your child’s soccer games and gymnastics meets, take your child to the doctor, supervise playdates at your house, and more. And when it comes to work, if you both enjoy it, make a point to make room for each other’s careers. If your schedules allow it, alternate work-from-home days with your spouse or partner, and switch off who takes on that unexpected sick day when the kids can’t go to school.

You can be successful as a working parent, and prioritize your family and your career — you shouldn’t have to choose one over the other. Doing it all isn’t practical…and may cost more than it gains.

Resources: Secrets of Successful Working Parents

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About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Mom walking kindergarten-aged daughter to school