Working Moms' Guide to Balance
Ever since I decided to go back to work, it was like I was living with a ball of tension in my gut. Call it what you will, but the therapist in me knows it was good old anxiety and overwhelm. Deciding to go back to work, start working, or even thinking about working can provoke a lot of feelings for both new and experienced mamas.
Whether you are working full-time or part-time, at-home or at-office, finding a balance between your career and your family has been one of the many challenges I've faced since becoming a mother. I'm going to share a few tips on what I've found to be successful- this is still, and always will be (just like everything else in motherhood), a work in progress.
- When entering or re-entering the workforce, go about it as you did childbirth; have a plan in place, but be open to the unexpected. Leave yourself room to make adjustments as needed. Need more/fewer hours? Change it. Need a daycare instead of a nanny? Go for it. Need to work from home? Maybe talk to some other work-at-home mamas. This one is TOUGH. The point is, be open to changing your situation as your needs and your family's needs see fit. Maybe you need more time or want to talk to your partner about staying home full-time. Whatever it is, be open to it, and seek support as needed.
- Make time for you. Seriously. Schedule it in. Ask your partner to watch the babe for an hour in the morning before everyone gets their day started and go for a walk, take a bath, paint your nails, etc. Carve out at least an evening a week for you time to catch up with girlfriends, read your favorite book/magazine, or watch embarassingly bad reality TV. Get a gym membership, join a club, cook a favorite meal. Whatever it is that works for you, SCHEDULE time for yourself each and every week. It can be overwhelming to be a mom and a career woman; make sure you save time for your sanity.
- Join a group with other working moms. Talking with other women who understand the trials and tribulations of trying to balance it all can be incredibly supportive. Maybe it feels good to get away and have another identity other than mama- talking to some women who get that can be priceless in balancing your mental health and leaving guilt behind.
- Dates, dates and more dates. I can't stress this one enough. Whether one of you is working or you are both back into the swing of your careers, the number one thing to fall behind when you have kids (well, maybe #2 to laundry), is your relationship. Scheduling time at least once a month, but ideally more, to reconnect, rest, and explore with your loved one is not only important for your mental health and your relationship, but also for your children. Taking care of your partnership helps you model a more loving, supportive relationship for your children, as well as feeling rejuvinated enough to show your kiddo(s) the love that they deserve.
- Number 5 is a biggy, and one I think most moms struggle with whether they are home 100% of the time with their kiddos or working outside of the home full-time. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There is so much pressure on moms of the 21st century to do all, be all, say all, prove all. Facebook may be a great way to 'keep in touch', but it also holds the power of building guilt and destroying self-esteem in an era of self-comparisons and self-criticism. (Come on, is your kid really happy and adorable 100% of the time as your Facebook feed may portray?) If you're feeling overwhelmed or like you need a break, ask for it. If you have family nearby, ask them to come give you a break. If you're family is far away, ask a good friend if they can watch your little one(s) every now and then, and return the favor. We can all use help, and the more we start asking for it, the better we will feel about it!