Written by Annamarie Obaya, LGPC. Reviewed by Jenny Ryan, LCSW-C

Being a parent is no easy task. And not only do you have to care for your children, but you’re also responsible for your own wellbeing. When you add in a career and other relationships, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or out of balance. 

According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2021, 89.1% of families with children had at least one parent employed. And in 62.3% of married couples with children, both parents are employed. 

If you’re a working parent who struggles with guilt about not spending enough time with your children, or you feel like there’s not enough time for your own health and well-being, we wanted to share some tips and resources for prioritizing your own mental health and the mental health of your family.  

Find Moments for Simple Self-Care

You don’t have to carve out hours of your day or spend large amounts of money on spa treatments to prioritize self care.

Simply look for small moments when you can have time that’s just for you. This might look like practicing deep breathing, listening to your favorite music, napping, walking, or even attending therapy. 

You don’t need to go on a trip or dedicate a whole night to your self-care routine (though that does sound nice!). Making sure to prioritize your mental, physical, and emotional health will allow you to show up for your kids as the best version of yourself. 

Be Mindful of Stressors and Time Management

If you know a big project deadline is coming up at work, pace yourself and complete the tasks promptly so that work stress doesn’t overflow into your family life. You may have to pull some late nights after the kids are in bed or even miss out on family time, but it will be worth it in the long run. 

Setting boundaries at work and giving your team members realistic deadlines for task completion may also help you manage your schedule better. 

Partake in Family Bonding Activities

This could be as simple as making Friday night the designated pizza and movie night each week or as extravagant as creating scavenger hunts. Your family may be interested in puzzles, hiking, reading books, playing board games, or doing art. Give something new a try! 

Anything that allows your family to bond and spend quality time together will help build stronger family connections and remind your kids that you’re there for them, even if you don’t have as many hours in the day as you might like. 

Get to Know Yourself 

Everyone’s mental health is different, so try to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. 

You know what will stress you out and empty your metaphorical cup. Try to limit your stressors as best as possible and enjoy the good times. 

Find what truly makes you happy and healthy, and then make time to do those things, whether that’s coping journaling, attending therapy, hanging out with friends, maintaining/establishing boundaries, loudly singing along to music in the car (we don’t judge), or sitting by a fire roasting marshmallows to calm your mind.

Find Support for Your Family’s Mental Health

When your children are struggling with their mental health, you’ll feel the impact as a parent. 

But don’t feel like you have to manage your family’s well being on your own! Learn about the resources available to you in your community, like Backpack Healthcare’s inclusive, accessible therapy. If you don’t know where to start, consider reaching out to your child’s school for information, or ask your company’s HR department what mental health resources are included in your employee benefits. 

It’s tough not to feel like you’ve lost yourself in parenthood, and being a working parent takes that feeling to the next level. Finding the right balance for you to feel satisfied with all aspects of life can be challenging. Still, you’ll find that sweet spot with time and patience (and probably some trial and error).


  1. Nomaguchi K, Milkie MA. Parenthood and Well-Being: A Decade in Review. J Marriage Fam. 2020 Feb;82(1):198-223. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12646. Epub 2020 Jan 5. PMID: 32606480; PMCID: PMC7326370.
  2. United States Department of Labor (2022, April 20). Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm

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