Survival Tip for Working Mothers
Dear Working Mother,
This one is for you. The one who prays for sleep at night so that she can focus in the day. The one who feels a special kind of guilt when leaving your child in the arms of someone else. The ones who takes a work call while changing a diaper or getting a snack for your toddler. The one with dreams, goals and ambition not only for your child, but for yourself too. The one who stares are your child sleeping because you don’t get to stare at her enough in the day. The one who hopes you are doing this right…every single day.
Let me start by saying that I genuinely believe that women can have it all – a connected family life, happy children, a successful career, a good marriage, good health and fitness, time to learn something new and time for ourselves. I also believe that the key to this is planning, striving for balance and setting priorities.
That said, I have experienced moments of burnout, been completely overwhelmed and at times pushed myself too far to the detriment of my mental and physical health then come back around again with a better idea of what my personal limits are.
While it may not be possible to have all the facets of our lives in balance at every moment of every day, I don’t think that should be our goal. It’s the pursuit of this balance that helps us find the moments of connection that allow us to feel we are living a meaningful life.
I wrote this article because finding balance as a working mother has been my main focus over the last 2 and a half years and its certainly been a learning process but I now know that it’s possible to attain my goals and have the work/life balance I so desperately want while maintaining sanity, so I thought I would share a few of the little lessons I’ve learned so far.
Routines actually work and are almost more important for your sanity than for your child’s. Depending on your personality type this may not be what you want to hear, but trust me, knowing what time your child is going to have lunch or go to bed in the evening will make it much easier for you to plan an undisturbed zoom call or to carve out time for a hot bath and face mask or a movie night with your partner. Creating a routine takes commitment and planning but in the long run it will enable you to be way more productive and allow you to feel more in control of your situation which will help you feel calmer.
Know your limits. We are all different, I cannot highlight this enough. This means what someone finds just right might be too much for you and might not be enough for someone else. Its important to find your personal comfort level and be realistic about what you can take on and at what point you feel unable to cope. Recognizing what activities drain your energy and what activities feed your soul will allow you to curate your life and cut back on the things that leave you feeling worn-out. In my experience, this understanding comes through trial and error. At times you will be called upon to take risks and test your boundaries and at other times you may need to learn to say no in order to find balance. Listen to what your body is telling you to form a better understanding of your comfort levels and create a work life balance that works for you.
Make time for you
Don’t underestimate the value of having your own little thing, this could be one or two activities or hobbies that are yours and yours alone.
It might be taking a yoga or kickboxing class, it might be getting your nails done or going to therapy. It might be eating a meal out alone or a night out with friends. It might be going to an art class or taking an online course. Whatever it is, making the time to do something for yourself that is personally enriching and nothing else is incredibly important.
You can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s essential for your mental health as a mother to do something that is just for you. It may feel selfish at first and you may feel guilty as you step away to nurture your soul, but your family will be thankful when you come back happier and refreshed. As mothers, we give and give and give again, we always put everyone in our home first so taking time away to give back to ourselves is the best way to recharge our batteries and come back happier and better able to continue giving.
Stop multitasking. Whaaaattt?! Sounds crazy right, and of course sometimes you need to multitask as a mother, like entertain your child while cooking dinner or give baby a bottle while responding to a client, but what I mean is stop blurring the lines of work and motherhood. I have felt the pain and guilt of feeling like a failure at both my professional life and personal life and have come to the realization that you will feel much more productive and fulfilled if you dedicate smaller amounts of undivided attention to each aspect of your life. I’m talking about leaving your phone in the next room when you are hanging out with your kids and going into another room and closing the door when it’s time to work.
The reason this works is because, when you multitask you often set yourself up to feel like you are failing on both accounts. Making this separation is an effective way of make you feel like you are winning simply because in that moment you will be more connected more present and more effective.
Reevaluate your workload
Intentionally and honestly reevaluate your work load. Its only now in my early 30’s that I’ve started to think about protecting myself from burnout, from negativity and from things that drain my energy. I’ve come to realize how often we tend to work off momentum and not take enough time for reevaluation. Is there something that you can delegate? Is a project not bringing you the returns you want? Or is a relationship draining? Is there a habit that is wasting your time? Is there something more your child needs from you? These questions can help you reevaluate areas of your life that could benefit from change.
Taking a look at your workload and seeing what the results are emotionally and mentally can help you find what works for you and give you the courage to strive for meaning and connection over money and accomplishments, for quality of life over standard of living.
Through trial and error, you can find your work/life/motherhood balance. I hope this article helps you feel that you are not alone in your struggle, that your strength and effort is beautiful and worthwhile and that you can make empowered choices that make life more manageable. You are amazing!