“I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, This is impossible — oh, this is impossible. And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” – Tina Fey
At least 70% of women with children under 18 are in the labor force, according to a 2015 study by the Department of Labor. 75% of those women work full-time. 100% of them would love a vacation. Or at the very least, a nap.
The term “working mom” covers a wide range of women, from top executives working 60+ hours a week to side hustlers working during nap time. Yet, we all wrestle with many of the same decisions. How do you not lose your identity in your work or your children? How do you work, attend to your family, manage a home, make time for friends AND care for your own health? The idea of work-life balance sounds so appealing, but how does one actually make it happen?
What if instead of trying to make your life look like that of the woman you idolize (Pinterest mom? Beyoncé?), you chose to embrace the beautiful chaos of your own life? What if instead of trying to juggle all of the things you hold close, you figure out what’s important and let the rest of the pins drop?
Take ownership of your commitments
If you feel you are a slave to your job, your housework or your kid’s sports schedules, stop and really investigate how you spend your time. You’ll find you either need to let go of some things, or that you have more time than you realized! Where can you fit in what matters to you and your family? Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” points out that we’re all given 168 hours in a week — including Beyoncé! “Treat your hours like a blank slate,” she says. “Fill them up only with things that deserve to be there…Build a life where you really can have it all.”
Make work/life harmony a family goal
Take the pressure off yourself to be the one to do it all! Sit down with your partner and older children and discuss how your family can work together to create a realistic version of your family’s “dream life.” This might look like sharing housework with your partner, having your kids pack their own lunches, or saying yes to working overtime for a season in order to pay for a family vacation. Consider bringing in outside help — grocery delivery, a date-night sitter, or an occasional housekeeper may offer the relief you need to stay sane.
Make one micro-shift
Micro-shifts are tiny steps towards a desired life change. As a working mom, you may feel you have your “work life” in control, but feel overwhelmed by the needs of your home and kids. Or it may be the opposite — you rock the mom role, but feel fuzzy-brained whenever your boss calls you into a meeting. What’s one thing that would help you feel more in control or connected to yourself? For me, it’s calling my best friend on my drive home from work. We only get ten minutes to chat, but it allows us to check in at least once a week and celebrate one another’s wins or partake in a quick vent session. In just ten minutes, I’ve connected with someone I love. Other micro-shifts include meditating, journaling, exercising, emailing someone you want to network with, or eating a healthy snack while listening to voicemails at work.
Redefine (and celebrate!) success
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a pay raise each time your kid had a birthday? Or if you got a certificate of honor for putting dinner on the table? Motherhood is less than glamorous, and it’s no wonder we appreciate the accolades and attaboys we receive in the workplace. It’s easy to define success at work, but what does it look like when you clock out? Figure out what “wins” are most important to you and reward yourself when you meet your goals.
Find time for [insert your name here]
Not work self, not wife self, not mom self. Just you. Dance to Madonna in your bedroom after the kids have gone to sleep, read a magazine during soccer practice, or take a walk during your lunch break. Sit in silence with a cup of coffee before going into work. Taking time to care for your personal well-being isn’t selfish — in fact, research shows that self care practices increase our productivity and energy. Want to perform better at work and be a more present and patient mother? Give yourself some attention.
By the way, you’re doing a great job! And your hair looks fabulous.
“12 Stats About Working Women” by Mark DeWolf, published on The U.S. Department of Labor blog (https://blog.dol.gov/2017/03/01/12-stats-about-working-women)
“168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” by Laura Vanderkam