The accounting workplace can be a demanding environment for any finance professional, and even more so for a working mom or dad. Juggling kids along with daily deadlines with clients, new projects and assignments, you may wonder: Will I ever strike a healthy work-life balance?
The good news is that it is possible for a CPA with young children to have a happy family life while building a thriving accounting career.
No high-wire act is easy, but this one is definitely doable and can be very rewarding. Here are six tips for balancing career and kids for working moms and dads in the accounting world.
1. Have a backup childcare plan
Not every professional has helpful parents or relatives living nearby. That’s why it’s key to have a backup plan for when the babysitting floor falls out from underneath you. Bringing sick children to work under most circumstances is a poor choice — for your little ones and your colleagues. Look into professional babysitting services or on-call nannies in your area. Negotiate with your spouse ahead of time who will take time off in the event of unforeseen occurrences and offer the option of splitting the day. Having these strategies in place will mitigate the mad scramble when things go awry.
2. Be realistic about the ‘second shift’
Many working moms and dads do two full shifts every day: one at the office and the second at home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re shouldering the cooking, cleaning, shopping and bedtime routines on top of your 9-to-5 job, it’s time to sit down with your partner and have an honest discussion about divvying up the workload. It may not be an easy conversation, especially if habits and gender roles are entrenched, but it is a necessary one.
3. Outsource some household chores
Can you have a tidy house, full fridge and clean clothes when you work 40-plus hours a week? Outsourcing some of the household chores can make it attainable and free up some hours in your busy week for much-needed leisure and recreation. Hire a cleaner to come in every other week. Arrange for a meal delivery service. Drop off laundry at a wash-and-fold service. Arrange for an afternoon nanny to pick up your kids from school. Yes, household help will require additional budget planning, but it’s a good investment when you consider it’ll allow you to carve out some down time.
4. Ask your manager for flexibility
Working parents needs extra time to find a work-life balance. While it’s impossible to squeeze more hours out of a day, you can ask your boss about working remotely one or two days a week, which would cut back on commute time. Consider flextime options, such as shifting your office hours earlier or later, or working four 10-hour days so you can have a three-day weekend.
One of management’s top goals is to retain good workers. So if you’ve received high scores on your annual review and consistent kudos from satisfied clients, chances are good your boss will do what it takes — within reason — to keep you onboard. Unless, of course, you need to achieve work-life balance with a workaholic boss.
5. Look for a job better suited to your family needs
Is your supervisor inflexible about start times? Is the unspoken company sick-day policy essentially, “Don’t take sick days — or else”? Are travel requirements stressing out your family? In today’s hiring environment, with job opportunities projected to keep growing for skilled accountants, there’s no need to remain in a job that doesn’t support your desire to balance career and family.
This was the case for Matt Ahrens, an associate financial advisor with Integrity Advisory Group, based in Overland Park, Kan. The father of a 1-year-old left his previous job because it required too much travel.
“When we had our son, I knew my time in the field was coming to an end,” he said. Ahrens took a pay cut when he accepted the new position, a decision he does not regret. With time, he anticipates building his income again, but he said it won’t be at the expense of time with family.
6. Consider temporary accounting work
The right choice for you might be to give full-time work a break and pick up temporary or part-time accounting jobs accounting work or work-from-home project assignments. One of the main stressors for a working mom or dad is arranging for childcare when school is out. Talk with your partner to see who is the better candidate for a brief career detour. Consider who has the higher income, better health insurance, larger 401(k) matching plan and so forth.
While many families today require two incomes to keep afloat, striking a healthy compromise for your career and home is within reach. As a working mom or dad, it is possible for you to have a satisfying home life and a fulfilling career. It’s up to you (and your spouse) to chart a path. We hope these tips help.
Looking for a career opportunity with the right work-life balance benefits? A key advantage of working with a staffing firm such as Accountemps is that you can choose when to work and when to stay home.