Paralegals and Parenting: A Juggling Act

It can be the best of both worlds - a challenging, rewarding career and being a parent.  Just look in any law office paralegal/mom and dad's cubicle or office, and see the framed pictures proudly displayed.  Those pictures bring a little bit of home to the office for parents.

Paralegals are professionals.  They have standards to maintain such as completing their work assignments accurately and within deadlines, maintaining a professional image...a cool, calm and collected picture...and representing their firm in a very positive way.

But what happens when baby is sick and that work deadline is still unmet?

What happens when mom has to work late, her son is at day care, and day care closes at 6:00?

Which gets the best of mom and dad - their job or their children?

It's definitely a juggling act.  For an overworked, over-stressed parent, sometimes just keeping the balls in the air is more important than how high they go.

It is my personal opinion that parent issues should be addressed before final acceptance of a new position.  If the job preceded the new addition to the family, come to agreements with your employer well before maternity leave begins.

What possible good can come from actually bringing up such issues in advance?  That's an easy one.  Employers tend to be more agreeable to issues before they crop up as an immediate problem!  In addition, everyone knows what to expect out of situations.  Bad feelings on either side are circumvented by adhering to what was agreed.  We're talkin' about law firms here, folks.  The experts of contracts, agreements, organizational documents.  Attorney bosses automatically have a grasp of what it means to agree to terms.  Of course, they also know how to stall, amend and re-notice as well, but we'll ignore that while we concentrate on tackling the potential problems at hand.

If baby is sick, some options to consider are:  1) ask the co-parent to take off a half day too and stagger nursing care; 2) pre-arrange in instances like this to take assignments home with you; 3) see if another employee can cover; or 4) if approved, return after hours or on the weekend to make up the time and work.

Working late can get really tricky as the day care clock ticks.  You may have been able to negotiate which your boss prefers - you simply must leave in time to pick up your child, or your boss agrees to pay the day care's late charges.  There are other options that can be tossed in there too, like a relative or friend picks up the child, or you pick up the child yourself and either return with child, or return as soon as you have suitable care in place.

As for the question of which gets the best of parent...the answer is their children.  And yet, the wise paralegal also knows how to get the job done for the boss.

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