More moms than ever are returning to work after maternity leave. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, 70% of mothers with children under 18 years old are working moms, and 75% of those mothers work full time. Many working moms struggle with feelings of guilt and overwhelm as they try to “do it all”. Raise your hand if this is you, mama.
(Learn 5 effective strategies for overcoming mom guilt.)
Being a mom is hard work, and being a working mom is really freaking hard work. Finding a true work-life balance can feel impossible. The trick is to try to find a healthier work-life balance. I know, easier said than done, but don’t worry. I’m sharing proven strategies you can use to help you achieve a better work-life balance as a working mom. And if these don’t work, there’s always wine!
8 Strategies Moms Can Use to Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
1. Use productivity hacks to get ahead of the game.
When you’re trying to juggle it all, productivity is your best friend. Keep stress and frustration at bay by creating a routine, staying organized, and making the most of your time. Here a few productivity hacks you can implement into your family’s daily routine:
- Avoid chaotic mornings by prepping the night before. Lay out clothes, pack lunches, and plan for breakfast. Keep purses, keys, and packed backpacks near the front door. [ Read this to learn how to perfect your family morning routine! ]
- Utilize a Crock-pot or Instant Pot to make cooking dinner a breeze. Meal prep is another great way to save time in the kitchen. Make it a family affair by planning and prepping your weekday dinners on Sunday as a family.
- Make your calls on the go. Scheduling appointments, participating in conference calls, and other time-consuming calls can be made during a commute. Safety first and hands-free, of course.
2. Find trustworthy and reliable childcare.
Knowing your children are safe and cared for allows you to focus on the tasks at hand during your workday. If your kids aren’t old enough for public school, that means finding in-home care or daycare. Talk to family and friends for recommendations. Interview nannies and tour daycares until you find the right fit for your family. You’ll want to take availability, cost, and quality of care into consideration.
You’ve got to feel as comfortable as possible with your child care choice. You can’t focus on work when you’re worried about the safety and wellbeing of your little ones.
3. Ask for help and outsource where you can.
Don’t be too stubborn to ask for help. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes let my OCD tendencies take over, and insist on doing everything myself. All this does is burn me out and make me cranky and resentful. It’s not worth the stress or drama. Ask for help.
Recruit your partner for help with household chores and family routines, such as bedtime, bath time, and morning prep. Ask family or friends to babysit for an hour or two so you can run errands in peace. If it’s in your budget, consider hiring help for things like housekeeping and yard maintenance. I know a dozen working moms who will tell you their bi-weekly or monthly house cleaning appointment is a godsend.
4. Talk to your employer about the possibility of getting more flexibility.
Unless you’re self-employed, you’ve likely had limited flexibility when it comes to your work schedule. When you’re managing a career and a household, having no wiggle room at work can make things difficult. Talk to your employer or HR department to discuss the possibility of a more flexible schedule, such as working from home a few days a week or setting your hours. Come up with a proposed plan before sitting down with your boss or HR, and come prepared with possible alternatives. You can even suggest a trial period to test the effectiveness of the proposed schedule.
With a flexible schedule, you’ll be able to better manage mini-crises such as an MIA childcare provider or a kid too sick for school.
5. Create and maintain a family calendar.
My husband and I share a Google calendar to keep track of all things family-related. Doctor appointments, upcoming events, important dates, vacations, etc., it’s all on there. I also keep a paper wall calendar above our desk at home that includes the Google calendar dates and all of our upcoming bills. This way, I can be sure nothing falls through the cracks.
My kid is too young to know or care what a calendar is, but when she is old enough, I plan on having a functional calendar on display for all to see. I’m a big fan of family command centers that contain not just a calendar, but a shopping list, a to-do list, and even a chore chart. If actually implemented and utilized, they can be a big help in keeping the entire family organized and in sync.
6. Wherever you are, work or home, be present.
Whether you’re at work or at home, give your undivided attention. At work, give it your all. Doing your best work is not only crucial for future career success, but it will also allow you to keep work-related stress out of the home. To avoid late work nights or working on the weekend, knuckle down and really focus when you’re in the office. Get the work done so you don’t have to take it home.
When you’re with family, do your best to forget about work. Don’t check your work email until you’re back in the office. Politely decline to take work calls outside of business hours. To get the most out of family time, give your family your full attention when you’re home. Engage and interact with them. Put the phones down and have real discussions at the dinner table. Implement a weekly family movie or game night. Make quality time with your family a priority.
7. Date your partner.
Even if that date is at home, on the couch with take-out and a movie, it’s important to keep dating your spouse. My husband and I try to squeeze in a date wherever we can. It doesn’t matter if it’s dinner on a random Thursday, or coffee to-go and a walk on the beach on a Saturday morning. Alone time with your partner in parenthood is crucial for a healthy relationship and work-life balance.
Try to incorporate fun and new activities when you can. Browse Groupon and Living Social to get plenty of ideas and some sweet deals. Take a cooking class, see a comedy show, try an exotic restaurant, but if all else fails, a candlelit dinner in the backyard can be just as nice. For 10 unique in-home date night ideas, click here.
8. Don’t skimp on the self-care.
Moms, especially working moms, are often so busy taking care of everyone else, they often forget to take care of themselves. Even if you’re pretty good about washing your hair and putting on make-up because you have to look presentable at work, you could still be neglecting yourself in other ways.
Self-care is so important for a healthy work-life balance. You’ve got to prioritize yourself too, mama. Read a chapter before bed, lock yourself in the bathroom for a relaxing bubble bath, go get your nails done, schedule that massage, get a hobby; there are so many ways to treat yo’self. When you’re taken care of and feeling content, you can better care for your family and your career.
What did I miss?
Got any tips for work-life balance you can share with us? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
Diggin’ this post? Here are a few other posts you’ll enjoy:
4 Steps For A Smooth Transition Back To Work After Maternity Leave
5 Healthy Ways Moms Can De-Stress
How To Find Time To Workout – When You’re A Busy Mom