Advice For Working Moms
My heart is racing and my belly hurts. This can only mean one thing. Yep, it’s May! It’s the magical month where every little thing happens at the very same time, every day – all month long! And if you have kids, your calendar probably looks a lot like mine…soccer, baseball, tennis, track, end of school year events, graduation, last day of school, standardized testing, spirit days (meaning, I need to make sure my boys are wearing the correct color shirt on a specific day – and heaven help me if I’m wrong), teacher appreciation, muffins with mom, donuts with dad, field day, volunteering at school, end of the year awards, etc. Keeping your mind and calendar prearranged is a challenge. It’s an organizational decathlon (I’m pleased to say that it’s one that I medal in every year)! Fortunately for me, I’m a stay at home mom who works part-time – so it’s stressful but I can manage it. It’s at times like these when I wonder how do working moms do it? So, I turned to an expert for information. My friend and full-time working mom, Ally.
Ally constantly agonizes over the inevitable conflicts between work and family. But in the 12 years she’s been a working mother, she has never once regretted her immeasurably rewarding life as a married woman with children and a career.
She explains that as her kids turn into ever-more-independent teenagers, the prospect of the empty nest looms in the not-so-distant future. She will miss them desperately when they go off to college, but she still has her own exciting, intellectually stimulating life to focus on. She offers this advice to anyone thinking of managing a family and career.
Let Go of the Guilt
For a variety of reasons, you’ve chosen to work. So, rather than dwell on how you aren’t with your child, think about how your role with the company is benefiting your family. It could be that, financially, you can afford to do more as a family or you are able to put away savings for college. Many working moms feel like they are setting a good example for their kids. It shows hard work and dedication, in an effort to provide to the overall financial wellbeing of the family. And some, really just enjoy working and having more adult interaction. If you are struggling with guilt, search out a support group that will help you find a realistic work/life balance.
Find Good Childcare
Finding good childcare is the most challenging task for working moms. If you can find a GOOD caregiver then it does lessen the guilt you feel when you are stuck at work. It’s important to ask your network of friends and family for references to nannies and babysitters. Having someone to help you out is imperative. Working moms cannot do it alone and they cannot burden neighbors all of the time to help out. It has to be someone you trust to care for your child, to get them to and from practice, to be there when they get off the bus and to pick them up should something unexpected happen at school.
Make Mornings Easier
The working mom only gets about 5-6 hours of sleep so it’s really important to start the day off right. The 6:00AM wake up call seems to come earlier every morning, so get organized the night before. Pack the kids’ lunches, lay out their clothes, decide what to fix for breakfast, have the backpacks packed and by the door so you can grab them on the way out.
Figure out your list of school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, and everything else well in advance. You’ve got to be a planning czar in order for you to make sure everyone is where he or she should be. Use Google calendars so you can sync between your babysitter, spouse and/or other family members. Set aside time on Sunday to review the week ahead to make sure everyone involved is up-to-date.
A Flexible Employer
A flexible, understanding employer has a huge impact on making the work-life balance possible. You want to be there for the big events in your children’s life. Try to be as open and honest with your employer about your job flexibility needs. If you can work at home or get off early on a day so you can watch your kid’s musical, you do it. You don’t want to miss out on all of the good stuff because you needed to finish off that last spreadsheet.
Nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond during the times you aren’t working. Avoid talking about work or checking your phone during family time. Focus on your kid’s interests. Ask for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs. Unwind and enjoy your time together – and remember that it doesn’t last long. One day, they will have their own agendas filled with friends and no time for mom.
Through it all, the biggest lesson for both working and stay-at-home moms trying to keep it all together is to make sure to try and relax, even though that sounds counterintuitive. Everything has a way of working out – maybe not always the way you want it to but it always does. No reason to stress out over the little things, like a clean house – right? Pass the Mylanta. Is it June yet?