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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

      Reference

      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 March 5, 2020

      How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

      How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

      Tommy wants his toy back. His brother is playing with his favorite toy and he wants it back. Tommy starts to scream and is hitting his brother uncontrollably. He is three and these fits of rage and lack of self-control rear their ugly head daily. Their parents rush into the room and diffuse the situation. They are at a loss as to why Tommy has little to no self-control.

      Is it just the terrible twos that are stretching beyond the twos? Or is there something else that can better explain his behavior?

      Actually, Tommy, like many little tots, is still developing his executive functioning skills. These skills are imperative in helping us regulate our behaviors and exhibit self-control. Parents need to understand the role of executive functioning skills and how they can help their child develop these skills.

      I will provide an explanation of these skills and tips in this article to help parents with this understanding.

      What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

      Executive function is processes in the brain that help us function. Executive function helps with the execution of the variety of skills. These are a top 10 list of the skills associated with executive functioning:

      • Paying attention
      • Completion of a task from start to finish
      • Self-motivation
      • Self control, impulse control, and inhibition (the ability to control one’s actions and behaviors)
      • Organize and make decisions
      • Manage time properly for completion of tasks
      • Mental flexibility (being able to change directions with a task when needed)
      • Accurate self-assessment (able to look at one’s abilities and achievements objectively)
      • Memory and recall (ability to keep information and retrieve it when needed)
      • Task initiation (ability to dive into a project and get started)

      People with low executive functioning skills have a harder time socializing, getting tasks completed, and controlling their basic impulses. There are a variety of problems and even diagnosable disorders associated with executive dysfunction.

      For example, when a first grader with poor executive functioning skills wants the pink ball at recess, and another littler girl has the only pink ball, the little girl who wants the ball may hit the other child because her impulse is to do whatever it takes to get that ball.

      She has not developed the skills to process the situation logically nor the ability to develop a plan to ask politely to share the ball. Her executive functioning skills are not developed enough so she reacts without thinking about the consequences. Her impulses take over.

      The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the role of executive function as follows:[1]

      Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

      We are not born with executive functioning skills. These skills are something we develop.

      Good parenting methods can help with the development of these skills. They are important because the benefits of learning these skills can last for a lifetime. These skills are those we begin building early in life and we can continue building upon in childhood and into adulthood.

      This building upon skills is called scaffolding. It is never too late to develop executive functioning skills, but the earlier they can begin developing the better off a person will be in handling life, as the skills build upon themselves.

      The Importance of Executive Functioning Skills

      Executive functioning skills affect us in every area of life. Here are some examples.

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      Health

      If a teenager doesn’t have good impulse control skills, then that individual may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure. Their lack of self control can affect their decision making and lead to drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or addiction to pornography.

      The executive functioning skill of self-control has an effect on our food choices. If we lack self control with food, we are more likely to make poor food choices, based on impulses. Junk food can easily become the go-to food for an individual who lacks self-control with food.

      Academic Success

      Memory is one of the primary areas of executive functioning. If an individual has not developed good memory and recall skills, they will likely do poor in school.

      Studying for exams, learning how to memorize and recall information are imperative to success in school. Planning skills and task management skills (i.e. completion of assignments) is also imperative to academic success.

      Career Success

      If someone has poor executive functioning skills in the area of planning and task execution, then career success will be limited.

      When assigned a work project, the individual with poor planning skills may wait until the last minute to prepare their presentation. Their poor time management and planning skills can lead to workplace failures.

      Social Relationships

      When a child doesn’t have good executive functioning skills which includes self-control, they may fail to see the feelings of others in the moment.

      When they lose at a game, they may sulk or cry. They may also yell at their playmates when they don’t get their way. Worse yet, they can act out violently, such as hitting and biting when someone has a toy that they want. Their ability to control their impulses is poor when they have not developed good executive functioning skills.

      Romantic Relationships

      The man who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer when it comes to physical romantic interactions may be someone who lacks impulse control. He may know right from wrong, but he has not learned how to control his impulses. This can obviously lead to major problems in any romantic relationship.

      If you don’t want a son who rapes girls (or vice versa, because that happens too), then you need to instill more than a sense of right and wrong. They must also be taught self-control and to navigate their impulses to make good decisions in heated situations.

      Ways to Help Your Child Develop Executive Functioning Skills

      A great deal of executive functioning skill development occurs during childhood. How a child is raised will have a big impact on whether or not they have developed good executive functioning skills by adulthood.

      1. Routines

      Daily routines can help establish order and predictability. Children (and adults) benefit from routines that establish good daily habits. For example, in the morning some good habits to establish and expect from children are getting dressed, brushing their teeth, putting on their shoes, combing their hair and preparing their backpack.

      Making their bed, picking up their room, and other chores are also good daily tasks to add to the routine if your child isn’t doing them already. If you wonder what kind of chores are age appropriate for your child, you can check out this posting from Focus on the Family. They have provided examples of age appropriate charts along with a free printable chore chart.

      If your child has difficulty getting things done in the morning, then create a chart for them to check off their tasks as they complete them each morning. You can find charts online for purchase, such as major creative websites like Etsy. They have magnet boards that can be customized for tasks you want your child to do each morning. Amazon has a variety of these premade boards for sale.

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      Just use the search terms “daily routine charts” or “morning routine charts” and you will find lots of options. If you are crafty you can easily make one yourself. Below is chart of one such product found on Amazon using the search terms I mentioned above.

        2. After School Homework Time

        Most kids do not come home from school and decide to get started on their homework. It would be great if they did! If your child does this, then you need to realize you have a unicorn. Most children need reminding about homework, especially in the early days when they first start receiving homework.

        It is helpful to set aside a specific time period after school when homework is to be completed. For example, you can set a rule that they must do it immediately after school, and they cannot use electronics or play until it is finished.

        Getting your child in the habit of doing their homework sooner than later helps with planning skills. Having a teenager who waits until 11pm on a Sunday night to start a book report that they have known about for a week is a bad habit.

        Don’t let your child become an out of control procrastinator. Start teaching them time management and planning skills early in life. You will reap the benefits too.

        Start helping them plan on getting homework done before they can play is a good policy. It also helps with developing self control, as they must get the work done before they can do something enjoyable. They learn to appreciate their electronics and free time more when they have accomplished a task (i.e. homework) to earn the right to play.

        3. Calendar/Agenda

        Get your child in the habit of using a calendar or agenda book at an early age. When I was in 6th grade, our school issued an agenda book to each student. I have since been using the organizational habits I learned from that time in my life. I will still record writing deadlines among other appointments in my book.

        Have your child record their assignments in their own agenda book. Putting major assignments on a calendar is also helpful.

        Using a calendar or agenda book can help with establishing planning skills. If they look at their calendar in the morning and see that they have their term project due and basketball practice after school, they can go out the door with the completed project in hand along with clothes for practice. Helping your child prepare for their day, week, and month becomes easier when it is visible on a calendar.

        Do digital calendars work? Yes, but not as well as paper calendars. There is always a risk of losing things that are digital or having a dead phone. Having it on paper can also allow for a quick “month at a glace” viewing (if they have calendar that shows month to month like I do). Such a glace can provide quick reminders of what needs to get done in the near future or appointments that need preparation.

        4. Set Rules

        Rules are the backbone of the household function. If kids don’t know what time they are supposed to be home, what chores are expected, and when they should be going to bed, then they are not learning planning skills in the home.

        Kids need clearly defined rules. It doesn’t mean that they have to be strict or over the top rules. However, they need to be clearly conveyed to each member of the household. Putting them in writing will definitely make it clear.

        Setting clear rules such as no shoes in the house, no yelling indoors, no eating in the living room, etc. can help kids understand the parameters for their behavior inside the home. This helps them to develop self-control as they learn what is expected.

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        Broken rules should result in consequences (for example in our home it is usually loss of technology time or a time-out). Setting rules is setting expectations. This helps with children and their development of a variety of executive functioning skills including planning, organization, time management, paying attention, and self control.

        5. Consequences

        Consequences definitely help with the development of self-control. If your toddler learns that temper tantrums always lead to time outs, then they eventually stop with the tantrums because they realize they aren’t worth it.

        Consequences should be reasonable and age appropriate. For more details on this topic, you can check out my previously published article: How to Discipline a Child.

        6. Break Down Big Tasks

        Kids that have a hard time getting started on large projects or tasks simply feel overwhelmed and they freeze up. Help your child out by breaking down a larger task.

        For example, if they have a book report due next month then help them examine the steps involved. First would be writing the book, next writing the report, and finally turning in the report before the deadline. You can help them set the dates to get each of the tasks completed in a timely fashion. You can even go as far as helping them assign themselves specific chapters to read by certain dates. It helps them to see their big task as a series of small tasks that they can complete more easily and build upon.

        Breaking down big tasks can help with a child who has problems getting started on projects. It can also help them develop their planning, organization, and follow-through skills. These are all executive functioning skills that are wonderful to develop earlier in life than later.

        7. Memory Games and Play

        Playing games and allowing your child to play can help with the development of executive functioning skills. Memory is one of the top ten executive functioning skills.

        To help a child develop their memory, you can play matching games, such as the one actually called Memory. You can also play sorting games, hide and seek, and matching games. These types of activities can help with memory, recall, and the development of other executive function skills too (i.e. planning, organization, motivation).

        Teaching your child to sing songs from memory and play an instrument are also very helpful in developing executive functioning skills. Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child provides a resource list of fun activities you can do with your child to help them develop their executive functioning skills.[2]

        8. Motivate

        Internal motivation

        does not come automatically for all kids. Sometimes children need to have external motivation to get them down the path toward success. Once they feel success and enjoy their pursuits, they will learn to self motivate.

        To get them started you may need to help motivate them. Offering genuine praise for their success is one way to motivate. If you are motivating them away from bad decisions, you may need to use consequences or discipline. However, praise and rewards are always more motivating in the long run.

        9. Home Organization

        It is hard for a child to learn how to be organized, not lose their personal items, and keep on schedule if their home life is chaos. A home that is clutter filled, unkept, and where things are easily lost does not lend itself to helping a child develop good executive functioning skills.

        Some home organization methods that can help your child include having a specific place for backpacks, coats, and shoes to be placed when not being used. This will help with their routine, planning, and time management skills.

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        Having them participate in keeping a home in order helps with their development of executive functioning skills, as they are learning about organization, planning, task initiation, and task completion. Overall, the best benefits of an organized home are their development of time management skills and routine.

        10. Self Control Techniques

        Self control is an executive functioning skills that is imperative to life success. If you have a child who is still throwing temper tantrums in public at age 10 because they can’t control themselves, then you definitely have a problem.

        There should be consequences for lack of self control that is disruptive or damaging. For example, a child’s tantrums can result in loss of play time, or a child who steals a classmate’s lip gloss simply because they wanted it (lack of impulse control) will need to return it, apologize to the classmate, and will be grounded for a week. Whatever the situation may be, there should be an adequate consequence to match the failure to control their behaviors.

        Once children learn that their behaviors have consequences, they learn to control their behaviors better. A child who wants to go to the movies after church, but knows that they must be quiet during church for them to be allowed to go out with their friends, will likely be quiet during church so that they can get the desired result (movie with friends after church). Providing consequences in advance (or the potential for rewards like the example above) can help to promote self control in your child.

        Help to motivate your child by providing both rewards and consequences as fitting for the situation. Again, remember that rewards are always more effective for long term positive results and can help to create genuine motivation toward good behavior.

        11. Be the Example

        To teach your child skills that embody good executive skill functioning, you must be the example. For example, if you want your child to follow rules, then you should also follow the rules set forth for you (i.e. the laws). If you are a habitual speeder and you say things like “those speed limits are only suggestions,” you are essentially telling your child that rules and laws don’t matter. If you want children who follow rules, order, and the laws of society, then you must be a good example.

        If you want your child to not be late for school, then you should set the example for morning routines and leaving early to get to your destination. Your habits such as organizational skills, time management, following rules, planning skills, and completing tasks are being observed by your children on a daily basis. They learn just as much, if not more, through your actions than your words. “Actions speak louder than words” is a motto to live by.

        12. Teach Self-Evaluation Through Questions

        The ability to assess one’s own abilities and achievements (or lack thereof) is an executive functioning skill. If someone is weak at this skill, then they will be shocked when they fail at something.

        Help your child prepare for success and failure. If they fail at something, then ask them “what do you think you could do different next time?” If they can recognize areas that need to be improved, then their perception of the situation and the reality can become more closely aligned.

        If you tell your child “you deserved to win” every time that they lose, they are going to start believing you and they will see no wrong in themselves. You teach them to evaluate themselves by asking them questions.

        Below are some additional questions you can use with your children. Be sure to use a kind and inviting tone. If you sound sarcastic or harsh, your child is going to shut down to your questioning and it will not be productive. If you want a meaningful conversations, then use a tone that shows you care for them and are genuinely interested in their situation:

        • How do you think it went?
        • What could you do differently next time?
        • What is one thing that you could improve on before next time (next game, meet, test, etc.)?
        • What did you learn from your disappointment today (or loss or whatever happened)?
        • How are you feeling about your disappointment?
        • What did you learn from this experience?
        • What is something positive you can take away from the experience?
        • What do you think it will take for you to win next time (or pass the test or whatever the situation may be)?
        • What kind of plan do you need in place to take you to that next win?

        Final Thoughts

        Executive functioning skills are essential to human function. The weaker the executive functioning skills, the less successful a person is likely to become in life in all areas (except maybe sleep). Although routine and time management help with sleep too!

        Executive functioning skills are learned primarily in the home though a primary caregiver (usually the parent). How a child is raised (and treated), their home environment, and the behaviors (and example) of their primary caregiver play a huge role in developing executive functioning skills.

        Even if a child doesn’t develop them early in life, all hope is not lost. These skills can still be developed in late childhood and even into adulthood. Just do the best that you can do as a parent for your child now.

        More Parenting Skills

        Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University: Executive Function & Self-Regulation
        [2] Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child: Executive Function Activities for 3- to 5-year-olds

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