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13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy)

13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy)

Working moms have it tough. Being committed fully to work and family is an impossible task that working moms have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless, being perceived as not fully present as an employee or a mother. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It is possible to pursue a fulfilling full-time career while taking an active role as a mother, if you learn to find a balance that works for your life.

These tips will help working moms to make juggling the two sides a little bit easier.

1. Let go of the mom guilt

Mothers are so often judged for “abandoning” their children when returning to work full-time, while fathers are expected to go to work to “provide” for the family. Why is this sexist stereotype still so present in our seemingly progressive society?

Some women don’t have the option of being a stay-at-home mom, while others choose to go back to work because they don’t want to give up their career. Whatever the reason, deciding to be a working mom is a choice that should be admired, not judged or shamed. If you are feeling guilty about not being with your child all the time, it’s time to let it go.

Focus on the positive things that your work life is contributing to your family. Be confident that you are making the best choice for your whole family, including yourself, and your child will feel the extent of your love and understand your sacrifice.

2. Use time saving hacks

To get the most done in the least amount of time, use shortcuts and plan strategically.

Order your groceries online and use curbside pick-up or have them delivered to your house; this saves time AND ensures that you don’t forget anything.

Schedule conference calls during your commute and get quick errands done during your lunch break to free up more time during the week.

Prepare outfits and lunches the night before so that you can enjoy your morning instead of rushing to get out the door on time.

3. Find childcare providers that you trust

Knowing that your child is cared for is crucial to having peace of mind when you are at work. Find a daycare, nanny, or someone you know that you trust with your child.

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A quality daycare should have flexible hours, a low teacher-to-child ratio, a clean and spacious environment, and up to date licenses.

For nannies, look for one with extensive experience and great references. Have at least one trial day to observe if it is a good fit and make all of your expectations clear from the get-go. If possible, keep constant contact throughout the day and ask for updates and photos of your little one.

Here are 9 ways you can try to outsource some chores:[1]

    4. Maintain open communication with your manager

    Being a working mom does NOT mean you will be a a less productive employee. However, changes will definitely occur.

    Mothers are typically the primary parent when a child is sick or has an appointment, and is the one responsible for picking up the child after work; so working moms often need more flexibility in their schedules. But working moms are some of the most committed employees out there! From skipping lunch breaks to working on the weekends, these women do not use their child as an excuse to slack off.

    The important thing is to make sure you communicate to your manager what your needs are, as well as how you will continue to do your job well. Hopefully, your manager will be understanding and appreciate your transparency and dedication to both your family and your job.

    5. Reduce distractions and time wasters

    Time is such a precious commodity when you are a working mom.

    At work, be mindful of the time you are spending socializing with co-workers if it is affecting your productivity. Limit long lunch breaks and surfing the internet so that you can get the most out of your work time.

    When at home, focus on your partner and your child rather than your phone or the TV to ensure that the time spent together is meaningful and intentional.

    Here are more ideas on how you can maximize your family time: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately

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    6. Reconnect with your partner

    The key to a happy home starts with a happy marriage. Make your marriage or relationship a priority because it will have an immense impact on everything else.

    If possible, find childcare and go out on regular date nights, doing things that the two of you enjoyed doing before becoming parents. Plan something other than dinner at your usual place, like a painting class or trivia night. Have an honest conversation with your partner that doesn’t involve work or kids and really listen to what they have to say.

    7. Create special and meaningful family activities

    Make the time that you spend with your family really count by planning activities that everyone will look forward to and enjoy.

    Organize a weekly family game night, have a picnic in the backyard, or go play mini golf. I love to take long walks with my family at nearby parks because it gives us a chance to be active and have great conversations. Ask for ideas from your older kids and let them get involved in deciding where to go too.

    8. Stay organized using calendars and lists, plan ahead

    The mental load that working mothers must take on is a responsibility that no one else can understand.

    You are the one in charge of keeping track of doctor’s appointments, signing permission slips, bringing potluck dishes, remembering birthdays, writing cards, staying on top of of clothes and sizes, knowing what’s in the fridge and pantry, never letting the house run out of toilet paper, just to name a few.

    Use planners, apps, and other resources to keep track of your never ending to-do’s and let go of some of the mental weight. For me, I add events to a shared calendar so that my husband can easily see what’s coming up and help out. I also use Google Keep as a place to make lists and take notes because it has easy to share capabilities.

    Plan ahead as much as possible so that nothing is left to the last minute.

    Check out this list of productivity apps that you can try: 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated)

    9. Share the housework

    The burden of the housework should not fall solely on the woman’s shoulders. This is an area that is easy for your partner to help you out in, especially if you have specific tasks that only you can do (i.e. breastfeeding, putting the baby down).

    If your children are older, delegate simple tasks to them so they can learn to build good habits early on and play an active role in contributing to the family. This chart is a reference for you to decide what chores to let your kids try:[2]

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      Another option to consider is spending money on a cleaning service. It can be hard to justify spending money on something you can do yourself, but if having an unkempt house is a major source of stress, it would be money very well spent.

      10. Say yes to less

      You don’t have to say yes to every single party invitation or extracurricular activity if it is causing you more anxiety than enjoyment.

      Determine how much your schedule can handle and choose the activities that your child will enjoy the most. Don’t feel bad about saying no to the rest. Overbooking takes all of the fun out of the experience and leaves no time for much needed rest.

      11. Lower your expectations

      A lot of the pressure that moms have to cook healthy and delicious meals daily, maintain a perfectly clean house, and be the perfect parent are expectations that you put on yourself. No one else demands as much as you demand of yourself.

      When you lower your expectations, you will find a lot of the unnecessary stress can be eliminated.

      Your house does NOT need to be spotless every time a guest comes over, especially if the guest also has children.

      Buying cookies instead of baking them yourself does NOT make you a bad mom. Home cooked meals everyday is a great goal to strive towards, but leftovers and take out will also feed your family just fine.

      12. Make time for me time

      Finding time for yourself is crucial in maintaining inner peace and balance within the hectic environment of work and home life.

      Moms have a bad habit of putting their own needs last in order to take care of everyone else first. But if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of anyone else well?

      Find the time on a regular basis and an activity that will allow you to relax and recharge. Some ideas include: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, writing, catching up with a friend, or pampering yourself.

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      For me, one thing I like to do during “me time” is writing in my gratitude journal. It helps me to appreciate more, put things into perspective, and make my worries and anxieties seem less consequential.

      13. Connect with other working moms

      You are not alone. There are millions of working mothers who are going through the same thing you are on a daily basis.

      Full-time mothers have more flexibility during the week to arrange meet-ups, but working moms can also have that same type of community.

      Seek out co-workers who are also working mothers; these are women you will be able to relate to on a whole different level. Coordinate playdates and mom groups on the weekends or take walks together after work. Find moms near you using Facebook groups, Meetup, and apps like Peanut and Hello Mamas.

      Laughing together, sharing stories, and finding your community will show you that you don’t have to do this all by yourself.

      Best of both worlds

      Can a working mom have both a successful career and a fulfilling family life?

      It is absolutely possible.

      It may not look exactly like how you pictured it, but don’t let that deceive you. Recognize and appreciate all of the great things you do have, and just take it one day at a time.

      Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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      More by this author

      Katie Lemons

      Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids) Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start 11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother 15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

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      Published on July 23, 2020

      11 Signs You’re an Overprotective Parent (And What to Do About It)

      11 Signs You’re an Overprotective Parent (And What to Do About It)

      Have you ever followed your child around the playground? They may have been a toddler and you were worried they would take the wrong step and fall off the jungle gym. Therefore, you followed your toddler around, keeping them within arm’s reach so that you could prevent them from falling or having an accident.

      I have been that parent at the playground in the past. With twin boys who had no fear as toddlers, I would follow them onto playground equipment because I was concerned for their safety.

      After a few months of doing this, I stopped. I came to realize that children need to learn through their own experiences. They will fall, but they will also learn how to avoid danger and make calculated judgments about risks through their experiences. If I was always there to stop them from falling, they wouldn’t learn to stop themselves.

      They had to learn things on their own. Of course, as a parent, it is still my responsibility to not place them in situations where they could be terribly injured.

      For example, we started at playgrounds that were intended for children under the age of five. We didn’t move up to the big playgrounds until they were old enough and aware of their behaviors and the risks involved in playground play activities.

      Why Parents Become Overprotective

      The intention of overprotective parenting is well-meaning. These types of parents are highly concerned about their children’s safety and decision making. Their ultimate goal is to protect their child from harm. Parents should be concerned about the safety and well-being of their children.

      However, on the flip side, parents should also be teaching their children about risk and responsibility. Those lessons are best taught through life experience. If we are always following behind our children, ready to catch them at a moment’s notice, then we aren’t allowing them to learn about risk and responsibility.

      Unger, a researcher on overprotective parenting, suggests that parents should allow children to participate in activities on their own that are considered low-risk.[1] This means allowing children to engage in activities on their own that provide “manageable amounts of risk and responsibility.”

      Unger cited that parents have become increasingly more protective of their children and are much more watchful of their children’s activities than previous generations.

      The problem with being an overprotective parent is that the child misses out on the opportunity to build responsible behavior skills, build autonomy, and develop self-esteem. Their confidence can be undermined when mom or dad are always watching and guiding their behavior.

      They can develop a sense that they are unable to make their own good decisions because they are never allowed to do so in life. Their confidence and self-esteem are hindered when they aren’t allowed to do things on their own without their parents hovering or watching over them.

      What Are the Signs of an Overprotective Parent?

      Parents with overly protective tendencies think that they are helping their child. Their goal is to protect their child, but it goes to the extreme. Below are some ways that a parent can be overly protective.

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      This type of behavior can end up harming their child’s development when one or more of these behaviors is present. There are likely other ways that a parent can be overprotective of their child, as this list is not comprehensive.

      These are examples so you can assess your behavior to determine if you need to loosen up overly protective parenting habits.

      1. You choose your child’s friends or direct them toward friendships with particular children.
      2. You don’t allow them to do activities on their own. For example, not allowing them to walk the dog in front of your home even though you live in a safe neighborhood and could even watch them from the front window.
      3. You are constantly monitoring your child. For example, you show up at their sports practices often to check in and see how they are doing or you go online to check their grades every week to ensure that they don’t have any missing work in any classes. If they do have missing work, you make sure that they get it completed and turned in before their final grade can be affected.
      4. You prevent them from making mistakes when you can see that they are going to make a low-risk mistake. For example, not allowing your five-year-old to put ketchup on their pancakes because you know they are going to dislike it and ruin their breakfast. You won’t allow them to chose to make such a mistake because you know that they will cry and get upset and you want to prevent them from becoming emotionally upset.
      5. You don’t allow them to go to friend’s homes without you.
      6. Sleepovers at other homes or camps are never allowed during their childhood.
      7. You drill them with questions about their life when they are out of your sight, such as wanting to know about all the details of their school day every day when you pick them up from school.
      8. You guide them to the extent that they are prevented from failing. For example, not allowing your teen to try out for the basketball team because you know that they will not make the cut.
      9. You make their decisions for them. For example, you don’t allow them to choose whether they can walk to school or ride the bus. You drive them and do not allow for any decision outside of this because you want to keep them safe.
      10. You are always volunteering to serve in their school classroom or chaperone the school trips because you want to “keep an eye on what is going on in your child’s class”.
      11. You do not allow them to have secrets or privacy. For example, they are not allowed to have a locked diary that you do not read or you don’t allow them to lock their bedroom door ever.

      Why Being Overprotective Is Not a Good Idea

      Kids learn from natural consequences. If they are not allowed to have natural consequences because their parent is continually protecting them from failure and harm, their development is being hindered.

      For example, let’s look at a child named Sally who is 13. She is a child who is overly managed by her parents and is not allowed to go to sleepovers or even go to another friend’s home. Her parents are worried about stranger danger and what can happen if they are not with their child.

      Sally is allowed to have friends at her home, but her parents are always watching the kids. Whenever Sally and her friends begin to disagree, the argument is squelched before the children can even begin to work things out between themselves because Sally’s parents will intervene and solve the problem.

      Sally is never alone with friends outside of school because her parents are always present. The presence of her parents in her socialization is hindering her development.

      She doesn’t know how to work out disagreements between her peers because she has never been allowed the opportunity to even try. Her social skills are lacking because parents intervene to direct her behavior while she is with her friends.

      Kids Need Space and Time

      Kids need space and time to be independent while they are children. If Sally were to be left alone with her friends, her friends would eventually push back at her bossy behavior when her parents are not present.

      However, because Sally’s parents are always present she gets away with being overly-bossy to her friends. She is not learning about the natural consequences of her bossiness but someday will when it may be difficult to change her behaviors as she is older in more set in her ways.

      It is easier to learn through natural consequences at a young age. Sally will likely end up going to therapy as an adult because she can’t keep friendships intact. Her bossy behaviors and lack of awareness have led to her having severed friendships repeatedly as a young adult.

      She will have to work with a therapist to uncover the reason why she is losing friends and then work to change her behavior to learn better ways to act towards her friends in the future.

      Effects of Overprotection

      There are a variety of effects of overprotective parenting. It is often dependent on the methods the parent utilizes and the extent of the overprotective behavior.

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      For example, let’s look at Tina who is a girl age 10. She wants to run and participate in her school’s after-school competitive track program. However, she is not allowed to participate in after school activities because her parents are worried that she will be exposed to boys and may start having relationships with the opposite sex too young.

      Another concern is that a boy may “take advantage” of their daughter, so they want to protect her from being exposed to boys outside of school and their supervision.

      The problem with this is that Tina is missing out on participating in a sports activity that could help her develop friendships. She is also missing out on the opportunities associated with being a part of a team, working hard physically to compete, and developing sportsmanship skills.

      Her parents are well-meaning, but their over-protection is preventing her from participating in a sports activity that she deeply desires to engage in.

      There are other effects of overprotective parenting. Below are some examples.

      Examples of Overprotective Parenting

      This list is not comprehensive, as every parenting situation and family is unique. However, this list can help provide some insight into the detrimental effects that overprotective parenting can cause.

      1. Lack of Self-Esteem Development

      If children are not allowed to try things on their own, they cannot build self-confidence and self-esteem.

      2. Lack of Autonomy

      If a child is always accustomed to having a parent around and supervising their behavior, they can become dependent on the decision making of their parents because they are never allowed to be alone or do things alone.

      3. Anxiety

      A child who is never allowed to try to do things on their own can become anxious when they are finally allowed to try things out on their own. They worry about making mistakes or failing because they have continually had a parent to help them avoid mistakes and failure.

      4. Lack of Responsibility

      When parents are always helping and guiding their children to an extreme, children will fail to develop their own responsibility skills. If they are never held responsible for anything, how can they develop a sense of responsibility?

      5. People-Pleasing Tendencies

      Youniverse explained that children who have overprotective parents who constantly direct their children’s behavior end up seeking the approval of those in their life.[2] These children will grow up accustomed to someone always telling them what the “right behavior” looks like.

      If they don’t have that praise or comfort of someone saying they did things right, they can become anxious or depressed. They become people-pleasers who seek the appraisal of others.

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      6. Risky Behavior

      When children are raised in an overly protective home, they often engage in risky behavior when the reigns are lifted. They haven’t experienced the failures associated with low-risk situations at a younger age because of their overly protective parents.

      Therefore, when they get older, access to high-risk situations becomes more easily accessible, and without understanding high risk versus low-risk situations, they engage without the wisdom of previous experiences.

      Because of their inexperience with risks in general, they may engage in high risk because they are unaware of consequences.

      7. Diminished Development Regarding Fear, Social Skills, and Coping Skills

      Psychology Today explains that children with overprotective parents have developmental issues, such as not being able to deal with stress and poor social skills.[3]

      For example, a child who isn’t allowed to play on a playground because the parent wants to protect their child from injury is prevented from learning about risk-taking on the playground and the bumps and bruises from consequences.

      Such a child may grow up to either having too much fear because it was instilled by their parents or have no fear because they have no concept of high-risk versus low-risk behavior.

      8. Lack of Immunity

      The Psychology Today article also explained that children who have overly protective parents that do not allow exposure to germs can become children who have a compromised immune system. Exposure to germs as children is needed for them to develop a healthy immune system naturally.

      When parents are disinfecting everything the child encounters and not allowing exposure to germs (e.g., not allowing them to go to a petting zoo or to play in the sandbox because of the germs in those places), they can be stunting their child’s ability to develop their immune system.

      9. Control Freaks

      Children who have been parented by control freaks learn this behavior from their parents. Parents are the primary role model of behavior for their children. If children see their parents acting as though they must have control over others and every situation at all times, then they too will learn to behave in this same manner.

      What to Do If You Are an Overprotective Parent

      If after reading this content you feel that you may be an overprotective parent, there is hope. You can change.

      It begins with loosening the reigns of control over your child in a calculated and reasonable manner. Allowing for low-risk behaviors and the consequences involved can help your child become more independent.

      There is definitely a balance to protective versus overprotective parenting. Allowing for activities and exposure to experiences that are low-risk is a good way to start.

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      For example, allowing your child to play on age-appropriate playground equipment (without following them) is a good first step. They will experience some bumps and bruises, but this is a part of normal development and learning about consequences.

      You will want to research authoritative parenting methods if you feel you are an overprotective parent. Overprotective parents tend to be authoritarian parents.

      Here is a LifeHack article I previously wrote about authoritarian parenting, so you can understand the drawbacks to this parenting method: Authoritarian Parenting.

      Authoritative parenting is not control-based parenting. It involves teaching consequences naturally, allowing age-appropriate decision-making, and having conversations with children rather than dictating for ultimate control and compliance.

      MSU Extension provides some great guidelines for authoritative parenting.[4] Below are some of the behaviors they described with authoritative parenting methods:

      • Provide reasonable, age-appropriate expectations for children.
      • Stress and anxiety for children can have positive outcomes, as they are allowed to experience these feelings in small doses as children. They can then build their coping skills and ability to deal with stress and anxiety through experience.
      • Encourage independence, as it helps children build their confidence and self-esteem.
      • Allowing for failures when they are young helps them learn how to pick themselves back up and try again. Developing this ability at a young age regularly will help prepare them for bigger failures when they are older, such as breakups, failed classes, or losing a job.

      Final Thoughts

      It is never too late to work on our parenting skills. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, therefore, we can always be working on improving our parenting methods.

      We all want our children to be successful, happy, and competent as adults. It does not happen overnight. Parenting is a continual process of trying daily to help our children live and learn through their own life experiences.

      If we try to protect them every step of the way, then they are not being allowed to truly experience life.

      Allow for age-appropriate experiences and allow for failures so that they can learn how to pick themselves back up and try again.

      More Tips on Effective Parenting

      Featured photo credit: Sue Zeng via unsplash.com

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