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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

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      Published on September 21, 2020

      The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

      The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

      I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

      There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

      What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

      1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

      When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

      Burnout

      When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

      If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

      An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

      Downtime

      Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

      Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

      2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

      Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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      Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

      • Creativity
      • Social skill development
      • Cognitive development
      • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
      • Communication skills
      • Emotional development

      If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

      Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

      Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

      Solution

      Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

      3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

      When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

      It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

      Solution

      Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

      For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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      Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

      Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

      4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

      Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

      When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

      5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

      When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

      This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

      There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

      Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

      Solution

      Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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      Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

      How to Turn Things Around?

      1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

      Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

      In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

      Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

      When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

      In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

      Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

      Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

      2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

      Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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      As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

      Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

      3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

      Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

      For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

      If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

      Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

      • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
      • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
      • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
      • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
      • Does the child really want to do the activity?
      • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
      • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

      Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

      Get The Kids Active and Involved!

      Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

      More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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