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Chasing the Dream: Managing your priorities

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Making time for what's important to you

How do you balance the responsibilities of parenthood with your big dreams? An expert offers some important advice.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to your children to care for them, love them, feed them as well as to be accessible, to help and guide them and to give them a good life. But you also have a responsibility to yourself to follow your dreams, and build the life you want to live. How do you make these important responsibilities balance with each other?

Allison O'Kelly, the CEO of the national flexible staffing firm Mom Corps, understands the need for balance between the work they love and their growing families. She shared her tips for how to balance the responsibilities of motherhood with your needs when you are going after your dreams.

O'Kelly says that above all, it's key to communicate. "If you communicate clearly, on the front end, with your husband, kids, boss and co-workers what you want out if each facet of your life, you will find a lot less resistance, and a lot more support," says O'Kelly.

How else can you balance everything?

3 Quick tips from O'Kelly

  1. Put your priorities on paper and organize them by importance.
  2. Let everyone know where you stand, what your goals, dreams, familial and professional priorities are.
  3. Don't get caught up on justifying to your boss what you want out of your professional and personal life. Let your actions, professionalism and dedication speak for you.

Prioritize

The first step in balancing your responsibilities to your kids and to your dreams is to define your priorities. "Learn to organize priorities according to what you want out of life, not what someone else or popular opinion thinks parents should want. To find true personal and professional fulfillment, identify and acknowledge your familial and professional goals, share them with everyone it affects, and create your plan," says O'Kelly.

She says in doing this, you need to cut back on things that really don't matter so much. "Want to commit to running a 5K with the family by the end of summer and complete a priority work project that has been weighing on you? Put it on the calendar and phase out activities that are “fillers” (watching TV, spending hours on Facebook, constantly cleaning house). You’ll be surprised how much time you find," says O'Kelly.

Adjust

Another key to successful balancing of responsibilities is to roll with the punches, so to speak. So when something changes in your life, you can adjust and carry on. "Every family dynamic is different, and for many, the day-to-day changes a couple times a year. Regroup as a family periodically and alter priorities, goals and expectations accordingly." O'Kelly says.

She continues, "For example, you know summer vacation is coming up, so it might be a good time to scale back on your work goals to make family more of a priority, or assign yourself specific days that will have a different focus."

Get support

No one can do it all on her own, so it's important to surround yourself with a personal network of folks who can help you out when you need a hand to keep everything balanced. "Work to establish a reliable community for familial support. This is particularly important for single parents. Working mothers especially have a unique connection," says O'Kelly.

Having folks who understand really helps too. "Attaining work-life balance sometimes does 'take a village' and that’s OK. Lean on those who best understand your circumstances and are willing to lend a reciprocal hand," says O'Kelly.

More from Chasing the Dream

How to be a work-at-home success
Why you need a mentor — and how to find one
How Jaden Hair achieved her dreams

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