Balancing Work & Life as a Working Mom
A Tale of 2 Beings: Balancing Work & Life as a Working Mom
The buzzing of my alarm clock startles me awake in the middle of my dream, I quickly pray and then my mind races with my “To Do” List. As I mentally prepare for the chaos of what will be my day, I can’t help but get stuck. Wait a minute; I know there’s something else, but what is it?!
I know Kaleb needs cash for his field trip form due today. It’s Gabby’s turn to bring snacks (Kroger run). Kaden has a band concert tonight, and I have to submit payroll before lunch, because there’s a bank holiday this week. As I get going, rushing in order to get through my 30 minute commute (which has turned into a 45 minute scenic expedition behind the slowest John Deer Tractor on Earth) to get to work on time, that feeling of doom invades my mind again. I can’t for the life of me remember what I forgot.
On any given day around the world, there’s a working mom trying to figure out how she’ll get everything done without driving herself insane in the process! I struggle with this daily and based on conversations I’ve had with other working women, I know they do too. How can working moms find more balance, when there never seems to be enough hours in a day or enough energy to get it all done?
Here are 10 Tips for my Fellow Working Moms that I’m Implementing in My Own Life That May Help:
Whether your phone is your lifeline or you’re more of a written list kind of lady, store important information as notes in your phone. Add important dates and times to your calendar or make lists. It makes it plain to see what you need to accomplish and makes it easier to remember that thing you may otherwise forget!
I’m sure we’ve all heard the old saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning your day, week and month is actually beneficial. Studies have shown (and I can now attest) that sitting down, if only for 5 or 10 minutes to actually plan out what you need to do each day, what you need to accomplish this week and even jotting down things you know are to come has positive side effects. It reduces stress, can lower blood pressure and increase endorphins in your brain. Thereby making you feel more relaxed and happier throughout your day. Get a daily planner or download a planning app. They help! If you know what’s to come and plan for it, it makes it easier on everyone.
Don’t Be Too Proud To Ask for Help!
It’s easier to ask for help or simply to allow others to help, sometimes, than to struggle in silence. If you have people you trust in your village let them help you! That could be family members, friends, church members, or other moms you’re close with. If it’s easier to ask Grandma or your trustworthy retired church mother to love on your child with fever than to have to miss work on a day when you have that big presentation, then ask them.
Also give your children (who are old enough) tasks to do that will help you out. My 13 year old takes out trash and can load the dishwasher. My 9 year old sweeps and can load the washing machine/unload the dryer. Even my 5 year old picks up toys and straightens shoes. Not only does giving children tasks that they are responsible for help you out, it gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment and begins to instill value in their work!
It’s OK To Say No!
This may come as a surprise to some, but taking on more than you know you can bear is something moms, especially working moms, do quite often for several reasons. They may want to maintain the image that they are superwoman and can do it all. Some can’t seem to say no for concern about another’s feelings and some just feel obligated to carry the world on their shoulders. Though, in the end, they’re the one left feeling depleted and defeated. One thing I’ve learned is that “No” is a complete sentence and needs no further explanation. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can say “No” at any time. Regardless of if I feel it doesn’t serve me, I don’t have the time to properly devote the necessary energy into it or I just don’t want to do it. Say this with me now, “No.”
This is by no means a scientific word or a new age philosophical concept; it’s just something that I made up, honestly, and take advantage of. What I mean by cluster is plan things that can be done together, together. It helps me to minimize time away from work and get more things done at one time. Here’s an example: instead of taking off multiple days from work, I’ll plan my kids’ dental appointments on one day at the same time or back to back if the 1st option is not available.
On that same day, I’ll go get them much-needed new shoes/jeans (my kids grow like weeds)! I may also get my oil changed and fill up my car with gas for the rest of the week. Then take the kids to eat/play at Chic-Fil-A. In that one day, in one cluster, I’ve accomplished a ton. Getting their teeth cleaned, gotten the clothes/shoes they need for school and church, serviced and filled my car, fed them and let them play (likely a reward for something I promised and can’t remember). They’re happy, I’m satisfied, and my boss is likely thrilled because I won’t need to use any PTO.
Take The Time Out To Decompress and Rest!
As a working mom, you have to unwind, or you’ll stay wound up. Even if it’s just taking a 10-minute hot shower with my favorite body wash with a locked door, (though kids are singing and laughing outside the door), I find a way to decompress, everyday. I know that as moms, we want to be the best version of us every day for everybody. But we have to allow ourselves the necessary courtesy of decompressing in order to be our best selves.
Whether you decompress by having a conversation with a dear friend, curling up with a good book, yoga, having a glass of wine or riding with your music turned up on the way to the store or journaling your thoughts at the end of the day, do something each day to center yourself! You also have to remember to get good rest. When you’re drained mentally, physically and emotionally, you can’t function at your highest potential at home, with your kids or at work. Going too long without rest is not only terrible for your health, but you’ll eventually crash. Get some rest!
Do What Makes Your Soul Happy!
Although I’m super busy with work, kids, church, dance ministry, home, kids activities, sorority, etc., I have to do what makes my soul absolutely happy-often. Not only is it important to be true to yourself and to truly enjoy life, it’s nearly impossible to be the best you can be without having something that makes you feel fulfilled. Don’t you know that even your kids can’t be totally happy/fulfilled if they seem mom is not happy/fulfilled?
Sure, going on a 2-week vacation to Italy and eating my way through the wonderful food of the region would make my soul really happy, but finding what makes your soul happy doesn’t have to be expensive, excessive or even that time-consuming. Going to a matinée movie (alone) and laughing out loud while eating nachos and drinking Coke absolutely makes my soul happy. As does reading a book under my weighted blanket. Even simply scrolling on Pinterest and adding stuff to my boards that I’ll never make, buy or try. The point is-find it and do it-often!
Being a Single Working Mom is Hard, But Not Impossible!
As I’m a single working mom, I dare not leave this blog without shouting out my other single working moms and encouraging you. Is it hard? Yes! Is it impossible? No! I feel that doing it on your own does make the burden that much heavier, but also more rewarding. When I see the smiles on my 3 kiddos’ faces, even after a long and tiring day, I know that all I do in a day and everyday contributes to making sure those smiles stay there. You can do this!
If You’re Not Ok, Say So!
How many times have we read stories, heard of people we actually know or talked to people who are going through depression, dealing with anxiety, turning to drugs, thinking about giving up or may have attempted to take their own life? I went through a season of depression [during and after divorce] where I was Absolutely NOT OK. It’s a depth that I wish upon no soul. I felt alone, helpless and at one point, worthless. If you notice, I said WENT THROUGH. With much prayer, counseling, and support from my village, I found hope again. I made it through!
If you’re feeling extremely exhausted, overwhelmed, defeated and in a low place where you feel like you’re not yourself or otherwise feel that you’re not ok, please talk to someone! Let someone you trust know that you need help and actually get help. Most employers have free resources available to you. They allow you to speak with a licensed counselor anonymously over the phone or in their office (if you choose). Ask someone in HR or just go to your company’s website, employee manual or online resources to find your company’s Employee Assistance Programs. You can also check with someone you trust at your church, a close friend or family member about people you can talk to. You’re not in this alone!
I’m naturally inquisitive, analytical and a learner by nature. I absolutely love to know everything about everything. If there’s something interesting to me, or something I need to know, I don’t hesitate to research. Get on the internet and find reliable resources, books, magazines, professionals and other people more knowledgeable than you on the subject at hand to learn and make balance more possible.
Find quick recipes that only need a few inexpensive ingredients to make that your kids will actually eat. Secure a reliable babysitter you can use when you just need a few hours break or want to go out on the town. Find free apps to help you plan your day or set exercise/diet goals and actually attain them. Discover coupons to save money on clothes, shoes, household items, appliances and online sales. Join a social media group or community group of like-minded individuals to gain extra support, if you need it. Doing adequate research can save you time, money and keep you from learning lessons you could have otherwise avoided.
Working moms all deal with life and do the best we can to keep it all together; I just hope you find some or all of these tips useful in gaining or maintaining balance. If you have tips we can benefit from, please leave them in the Comments below! Now, I’m heading over to Amazon to order that new planner I couldn’t seem to remember! 😊