One of the many issues most working women face is balancing being a mom and fulfilling parenting obligations while also fulfilling work obligations. Whether you’re working inside or outside the home and doing full-time, part-time, or flexi-time hours, the struggle to achieve work-life balance is tricky when you’re a mom. This balancing act is especially challenging if you don’t have enough family support or don’t have the luxury of hiring help. The ‘guilty mom syndrome’ is real for working mothers, because the time spent at work will always equate to time away from the children. Therefore, there’s a tendency to feel as if you’re not doing enough for your kids when you’re balancing being a mom with being a career woman.
International Women’s Month is all about empowering women, and that includes career women who want to do it all: be a great mom and excel in their careers.
The stay-at-home mom is becoming a figure of the past. In today’s society, inflation rates are so high, that many families rely on dual incomes. This means more mothers are entering the workforce. In the US alone, 69.1% of families with kids under 18 years old have a working mother. However, being committed to work and family is a precarious situation for working moms who must balance parenthood and their profession. This could lead to stress and exhaustion, since moms have to divide their time, energy, and attention between numerous responsibilities.
Although balancing being a mom while working can be a complex juggling act that entails making many personal sacrifices, it is not impossible to achieve a system that works for your family. Of course, this comes with accepting that there will be good days and bad days. Take comfort in knowing that millions of working moms worldwide grapple with the same challenges.
No matter how difficult things get, ever-resilient mothers handle challenges with determination, because giving up is not an option when tiny humans rely on you. Pursuing a fulfilling career while being proactive as a mother is doable with a setup that complements your family dynamics.
Crush the Guilt to Succeed in Balancing Being a Mom and Career Woman
Once you have kids, life as you know it will never be the same. You will inevitably think about your kids and feel responsible for another human being. And for this reason, moms face immense pressure from the moment of conception. Working moms also face the stigma of abandoning their kids, especially if they have full-time work away from home.
And let’s face it, even in this progressive world, stereotypes persist. Many cultures still have these outdated gender scripts where fathers are expected to work as providers while mothers are expected to nurture children. However, the reality is, many women cannot afford to stay at home.
Let’s not forget that many women make more money than men now, which means there are some stay-at-home dads out there and many female breadwinners.
Moreover, mothers who fought to establish their careers may also opt to go back to work while balancing being a mom to their littles. Whatever your reason for working, do not let anyone make you feel ashamed of your choice. Let go of the mommy guilt, because you’re doing the best you can for your family.
Rather than dwelling on how you’re missing out on time with kids, think about how your work benefits the family. The income may help pay for daily necessities and provide other opportunities, like extra classes for the kids or money for memorable vacations. Celebrate the small wins every day. Be confident that you’re making the best choices for the people you love, including yourself. You can be efficient in both your work and mommy roles by staying organized and accepting things will not always be perfect.
Define What Balancing Being a Mom Means For You
If you want to do your best to ensure both your career and family flourish, you have to define what is acceptable for you. Balancing being a mom with work is relative to your job role, your family’s unique needs, level of support, and goals. Hence, balance can mean different things to different people, so avoid comparison. Some moms may find balance in working part-time jobs, so they can get out of the house, interact with adults, and earn income while being there for their children. Meanwhile, other moms could sacrifice their rest and work from home while their kids are sleeping.
As for other mothers, they may have to work full-time in a demanding job. This could mean not being there for after-school pick-up or missing out on some children’s activities. And this situation doesn’t make them bad moms either because they’re trying to make ends meet for their families. Thus, the right balancing equation for what will make everyone in your family happy will be different. Moreover, as your children grow or dynamics in your family change due to job loss or illness, you may need to redefine your concept of balance.
It is also crucial to keep in mind that aiming for a constant state of equilibrium may be unrealistic because life’s surprises make that impossible. To illustrate, if your baby falls ill, you may need to call out from work and be 100% mommy. In the same token, if you have a work deadline, you may have to ask your spouse to step up to accomplish it. What’s important is to communicate and be honest with our partner about your needs so you can be there for each other.
Find a Childcare Provider You Trust
To succeed in balancing being a mom and a working woman, finding reliable childcare is crucial. Knowing that someone trustworthy is watching your child will give you peace of mind while you’re at work or if you wish to go on a date night with your spouse. This could mean asking relatives like grandparents for help, finding a good daycare, or paying for a nanny to come and watch your children.
Create a list of criteria and non-negotiables, then find time to tour daycare centers or interview childcare providers. A good daycare is clean and spacious with an updated operating license. The facility must have a low teacher-to-child ratio with employees that have been fully vetted with a background check. Similarly, nannies must come with references and extensive experience. If you’re considering these options for your kids, it may be a good idea to do a paid playdate with the nanny or a trial visit to the daycare to see if it’s a good fit.
Communicate and Set Boundaries with Your Employer
Statistics indicate 41% of workers believe that moms are less devoted to their work compared to non-working counterparts because moms need more flexible work schedules to accommodate their parenting obligations. However, this is a misconception, because commitment to work is not defined by motherhood, but rests on the character and motivation of the individual while they’re at work. Every working mom must tackle this stigma head-on by communicating their thoughts to their leaders and showing them that working mothers have additional strengths. Studies attest that motherhood is a good training ground for leadership positions. The role teaches you how to empower tiny humans while remaining empathetic.
If you have a boss or manager, it is critical to keep communication lines open and set boundaries to leave yourself room to balance being a mom with being a career woman. Assure them that being a mom will not interfere with your work, and show them you’re capable of doing your job well even if you have kids. Being a working mom doesn’t make you less productive either, nor do you use your children as excuses for slacking off. However, own up to the fact that changes may take place, especially if you have a new baby. If a child gets sick or there are school activities, you need to be there for the kids too. Always give your managers a heads up if there are changes in your schedule. Chances are they will be empathetic because there are other working moms in the team. Most employers also appreciate transparency, and many admire a mother’s dedication to both her family and job.
Master the Art of Time Saving
Time is finite, and it is such a precious “commodity” when you’re a working mom. Finding time for your priorities is one of the biggest challenges to surmount in the drive to balancing being a mom and a working woman. In fact, research shows that most working moms feel rushed as they struggle to take control of schedules and responsibilities. But you don’t have to feel like a trainwreck all the time.
Avoid feeling stressed out with the lack of time by planning strategically, simplifying how you do things, and creating shortcuts. Try the following hacks in a bid to save time and effort:
- Use a family calendar to keep tabs on everyone’s activities (more on this later)
- Order groceries online and have them delivered or do curbside pickup to save time and avoid forgetting any essentials
- Run quick errands during your lunch break to free up time
- Schedule voice conference calls during your long commute to work
- Use a programmable robot vacuum to help you clean around the house
- Prepare outfits and pack lunches the night before so you’re not rushing in the morning
- Avoid dragging the kids to the post office and schedule pickups online
Stay on Top of Your Game with a Family Calendar
Figure out your priorities to succeed in balancing being a mom and a career woman. At the same time, make sure you know what each family member’s priorities are. It would help to use Google calendars or other scheduling apps for you, your partner, and kids which you can sync on your mobile devices. You can use color coding for each family member to stay on top of everyone’s schedule.
It would also help to set aside ten minutes on Sundays to review your schedules and prepare for the upcoming week. This will give you more control and help eliminate surprises mid-week. And if you have a caregiver coming into your home, you can also share selected information to keep them updated. When you’re organized, you reduce stress and improve efficiency.
Make Time for Self-Care
Moms are known to have this bad habit of putting their needs last because they feel a strong desire to take care of everyone in the family first. But if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you care for others? You can’t continue caring and pouring love into your family or doing your best at work when you’re running on an empty cup. Thus, finding time for self-care is crucial to balancing being a mom and a hectic work schedule.
If you want to find inner peace and true happiness, you must find time to relax and recharge. Make no excuses and find “me time” against the hustle and bustle of motherhood. These minutes are precious because they remind you of the person you were before having kids. This doesn’t have to be fancy like going to a spa weekend retreat or taking a long vacation. Sometimes, even just 15 minutes a day in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is still asleep and the house is quiet could be very invigorating for your soul. Other ideas are:
- Writing in a journal
- Catching up with a friend over dinner
- Going for a nature walk
- Taking a bath
- Finding time for your hobbies
Making time for the things you personally love is enriching. It helps take your mind off your day-to-day routine and eases your anxiety. Although being a mother is fun and rewarding, it can also be very exhausting, especially when coupled with work responsibilities. Psychologists say engaging in activities you love can help you cope with stress.
Having a hobby to fall back on when the work day is over, and the kids are asleep on the weekdays or weekends could give you perspective and provide you with something fun to look forward to.
If you’re looking for hobbies to enrich your life, a DNA test like CircleDNA helps you discover your genetic strengths and weaknesses, and could help you identify some of the hobbies that suit you best, based on your unique DNA. When you’re able to fulfill your mommy duties and work obligations while doing activities you enjoy on the side, you can maintain inner peace and strive for a better work-life balance.
- The State of Mothers and the Workforce (Rachel Pelta) https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/the-state-of-mothers-and-the-workforce/
- Working moms face employment bias. Combat it head-on by putting ‘mother’ on your résumé (Katya Libin) https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/working-moms-face-employment-bias-combat-it-head-putting-mother-ncna1267659
- Modern family index shows motherhood penalty in American workplace (Bright Horizons) https://www.brighthorizons.com/newsroom/modern-family-index-2018
- The Secret to Work-Life BalanceL Less Work (Jenny Anderson & Quartz) https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/11/work-life-balance/414672/6 Reasons to Get a Hobby (Jamie Kurtz) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happy-trails/201509/six-reasons-get-hobby?ref=circle-magazine-health-wellness-genetics-blog