Working mums often feel as though they need to work as well as if they didn’t have children or other obligations. It is pretty challenging find the right work life balance for you as a Mum and your family. Over my almost 10 years of being a Mum I have tried all the various combinations. I have been a full time stay at home Mum, full time working Mum and a part time working Mum. This blog may help you love being a working mum again.
How to Love Being a Working Mum
You should never get into a debate about what kind of parent has the hardest life. Whether you are a stay at home mum or a working mum, you will face your own set of challenges and stressors.
Working mums often feel as though they need to work as well as if they didn’t have children or other obligations. They also often feel guilty for any time spent away from their kids or if they miss any activities or milestones.
If you are a working mum and have been struggling to remember what you ever enjoyed about it, this blog has some tips that may help.
Being a Working Mum in a Pandemic
Trying to juggle working and parenting from home during lockdown has thrown all sorts of new challenges at working mums. We are quite lucky in Darwin and have escaped the full force of lockdown but I know many of my interstate Mum friends have struggled with working from home during lockdown, homeschooling or taking care of young kids all day. You may be responsible for managing homeschooling as well as getting all of your work tasks done, or handling video calls without seeming distracted by the kids in the background.
Having parents both potentially working from home also saw highlighted who is responsible for the homeschooling/caring arrangements/unpaid care/household tasks/workloads of children between parents and why does this all too often fall to Mums.
Focus and balance have become even rarer commodities in 2020.
You might be feeling all of these feelings
It is a fact of working mum life that you will wish you had more time. You will be used to feeling as though you need to devote more of yourself to both your work and to your family, and to feeling bad about not having enough of you to go around.
You might feel bad if you have to leave work early to pick up kids, or if you need to call in sick to look after a sick child.
You might feel bad if you are late to pick your child up, or if you send them to childcare with a case of the sniffles, hoping it isn’t anything worse, because you just cannot take another day off work for your kids (mind you, this is really not recommended given what we know about COVID…)
Often you will be pulled many ways at once, and feel stretched thin. You will be familiar with feeling guilty, with feeling inadequate, like an imposter, as though you are winging it, and always tired.
You will be very familiar with putting your own needs dead last. One of the biggest I lessons I have learnt over the last couple of years is that I cannot always put myself last. That I need to take care of myself because I cannot pour from an empty cup. For me to be the best Mum for my kids, I need to put myself first sometimes.
You may also face co-workers who feel as though you aren’t pulling your weight, or as though they should get as much ‘time off’ as you do.
You will also face days where it feels like the work is never ending, and as though it is hard to find the energy to get up and do it all over again. All too often life with kids and work can feel like groundhog day on repeat…..
Whether you are a working mum by choice or by circumstance, there are some things you can do to find joy and peace in your situation.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance means having the right combination of time at work and time at home, and feeling balanced and at peace with this. Balance also means leaving enough time for yourself as well, including for your relationship with your partner, for your health and wellbeing and to spend time with friends.
How can one woman have that kind of balance without some sort of cloning machine?
Let’s have a look at some tips that can help.
10 Tips to Help You Love Being a Working Mum
1. Make the decision to cut yourself some slack
The first step to finding balance and enjoying the various parts of your life is to make a conscious decision to cut yourself some slack. You’ll need to consciously make yourself and your balance a priority – it won’t just happen.
Often we will wait for the right mindset to come along before we tackle any kind of change like this. You might tell yourself, ‘I’m hating work right now, but soon I’ll get motivated to make some changes, and then things will get better.’
Don’t wait for the motivation to fix things – mindset is all about doing what’s good for you even when your mind isn’t in it. You can create the right mindset by grabbing the wrong mindset and turning it around/or flipping it.
2. Practice mindfulness and being present
Be completely focused on your current role when you are in it. Be present at work when you are there. Also present and focused on your home life when you are there too.
The biggest waste of time is worrying or feeling guilty about the things you should be doing. Any time you are worrying or feeling guilty, you are not focusing on the current task and giving it the attention it deserves. You will also not be enjoying this time.
If you take time to rest, but then feel guilty and shame yourself the entire time for what you should be doing, again this is time wasted. You will not feel rested at the end of this kind of ‘rest’.
3. Recognise that multitasking is a myth
It really isn’t possible to do more than one thing at once. What you are doing is just giving less attention to each task, while your mind flits in between each competing point of your focus. You do everything more poorly than if you focused on just one task at a time, and you will end up more tired.
Embrace that multitasking is a myth, and be loud and proud about your inability to try it. Do one thing at a time, and do it well.
4. Take small breaks often
Studies show that we feel more rested and rejuvenated if we give ourselves smaller rests and rewards often rather than saving everything up for one big holiday. Giving yourself smaller treats and things to look forward to helps you to recharge your batteries more often and also raises your general mood in between.
Make a list of smaller treats and rewards that will work for you. This will look different for each individual, but could include:
- Getting a massage or facial
- Having a date night at home with a movie and some really good takeaway food
- Buying yourself a new book
- Booking in a special dinner out with your partner or friends (or by yourself)
- Having brunch with girlfriends
- Booking a night away
5. Find systems that make life easier
Look for methods of organisation that will simplify and streamline your life. This could be as easy as making lists for each day. Setting up menus or a whiteboard for reminders at home, getting a notebook organiser or looking into some scheduling apps. I know I am constantly setting myself reminders in my phone for important meetings, appointments or events but its a simple tip to keep my life more organised.
Look for times in your day that aren’t being used to your advantage. Try using a mindfulness app or listening to a podcast while you are driving or on public transport to give yourself some downtime during time that would otherwise be wasted. Or you could use time on the bus to do your grocery shopping online. I remember also doing my online food shop when I was up late at night breastfeeding my youngest child. Check out this blog for more tips on busy mums juggling life and things that can make life easier!
6. Pick your battles, and lower your standards
The best way to continue to stretch yourself thin is to make everything a priority.
If you constantly remind yourself that your work must be perfect, your children nurtured and given your full attention, your house immaculate, your clothes on trend, and your spare time spent baking healthy snacks, volunteering for charity or taking care of elderly neighbours. Then you will not only be exhausted, but you will find you do none of these things as well as you want to.
Take a look at every part of your life, and work out which aspects are a priority for you, and which ones you can let slide a little. Figure out which battles are worth having, and which ones you can let go. A few years ago I was volunteering for two different community groups, and while I love volunteering I had to let this part of my life go as I couldn’t keep doing it all and something had to give in my life.
Kids don’t need to be bathed or read to every single day. If your child insists on dressing herself and refuses to let you brush her hair, it’s ok to let her go to childcare or school looking like she just got out of bed. When you are too tired to cook much and end up doing scrambled eggs or porridge for dinner, no one will suffer.
If you do washing every two days, or skip the dusting or ironing (by the way my kids don’t know what an iron is lol), or only vacuum half as often as you’d like, embrace this decision and be ok with lowering your standards. You are only one person at the end of the day and can only handle so much on your plate.
7. Outsource what you can
Once you have worked out what your priorities are, have a look at the aspects of your life that you could outsource. This might include arranging for a meals service, getting a cleaner or nanny, or getting a virtual assistant.
There are some fantastic services in our directory that can help you outsource, including:
And feel free to join our Facebook group of other Darwin parents and ask their recommendations for cleaners, babysitters and other services.
8. Embrace asking for help
As adults, as women and as mothers, we all seem to be pretty bad at asking for help when we need it. Often this is because we worry about burdening another overworked, stressed-out mum with our problems.
We need to get better at asking for help. Help from our kids, our partners and other people in our social circle. We may need to let go of our level of control of things, and accept that chores won’t get done quite as well as if we did them ourselves – but it can be done.
And lately I have really been embracing this. I have started getting my kids (ages 9,7,7 and 4) to do my chores around the house. I asked before we left for school today for everyone to help unpack the dishwasher – one less task for this Mumma to do! They are putting their clothes away (and while I clench my teeth watching my 9 year old shove clothes in her draws. I let it go knowing she has put them away and she will know or find what she wants to wear.)
9. Remember that ‘No,’ is a complete sentence
This is taken from a quote from the incomparable badass Jane Fonda. We are so used to justifying our actions. That we can’t say no to someone without having a good excuse, or without qualifying why we can’t comply.
We don’t have to give excuses or justify ourselves. We need to practice saying, ‘No,’ if asked to do something that just stretches everything a bit too far. Like that extra work shift. That additional assignment. Another load of washing or help with homework our kids left until the last minute….
10. Take time for yourself, guilt-free
After you have learned to say ‘No,’ without having to back it up with an excuse. Remember to take some time just for yourself, to do what you need to do (or to do absolutely nothing). And don’t feel guilty for this. Have a look at this blog – for some of our Self-care tips for busy Mums
We hope this blog and our tips help you love being a Mum and juggling the various aspects of work/family life again……