Being a working mom, I’m well versed in how difficult balancing work and family can be. Some days I feel like superwoman and get everything done. Other days it’s a miracle I find the time to comb my hair.
Women make up nearly half the workforce, meaning many juggle getting to the office each day while raising their families. Raising children while working poses numerous challenges. Yet it is possible to find balance — here’s how.
Use Your Prep Time Wisely
Are your mornings filled with cries of, “Mom, I can’t find my homework?” Make the morning scramble easier to manage by prepping the night before. Have the little ones pack their backpack, their lunches and put out their outfits for the next day.
Are you finding yourself hitting the drive-thru because the mere thought of cooking after a long day exhausts you? Prep meals for the week on the weekend or whatever day you typically have off. Portion out servings in reusable containers, cook meals and freeze them — it’s much easier to eat healthfully when all you need to do to make dinner is pop it in the microwave.
Eliminate Distractions When Possible
Trying to balance work and family life can seem impossible. Yet many people waste time by allowing distractions like cell phone notifications and email interrupt their work. In one recent poll, people admitted to checking their email up to 20 times per day.
Ideally, strive to check notifications only at certain times during the day. Keep cell phones set on silent or vibrate when involved in tasks requiring concentration. Working from home? Hire a child care service for at least part of the day or call upon the hubby to help with baby, so you can get at least a half a day of uninterrupted work in daily.
Schedule Specific Times for Different Activities
Back in college, I rarely followed a set schedule, but as a working mom, it’s a must. I keep a weekly calendar hanging on the fridge where I write down after school activities and budget time for uninterrupted family play, work and self-care.
Making a family calendar shares many similarities with setting SMART goals in the way you prioritize what you want to complete and when. It’s one thing to say, “I want to spend more time with the kiddos,” but without a specific plan for when, days and weeks fly by with little progress in that regard.
Have a Heart-to-Heart With Your Boss
Speaking to the boss about work-life balance can seem intimidating. Yet smart managers recognize people have lives outside of the office and also realize the importance of rest time to overall productivity.
Schedule a time to meet with your boss if you’re feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. Come prepared with solutions, not gripes about the problem. You can suggest things like allowing for flex time, working from home on certain days, or, if finances permit, switching to a part-time schedule.
Take Care of Your Health
The cliche is true — without your health, you don’t have anything. Many people would benefit from creating healthier habits. By doing so, you’ll have more energy to tackle those days where you rush from dropping off the littles to getting to the office to making after school soccer matches.
Strive to get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. This need not mean heading to the gym. Putting on music and dancing around the living room with the kiddos counts as exercise. On nice days, taking a walk with the entire family burns calories while allowing time to catch up with each other. And strive to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, low in processed meats and saturated fat.
Establish a Regular Date Night
Having kids makes many couples grow distant, but your partner is your best friend and confidante. Schedule at least one night every other week where you call in the trusty sitter and head out to dinner and a movie with your sweetheart. Your relationship will grow stronger as a result.
For those with tight budgets, date night need not cost a dime. Most grandparents are delighted to watch the kiddos for a night for free. Hitting a museum with your beau costs little, and strolling through the park hand in hand brings back memories of your dating years.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Everyone needs some quiet time for taking a bath, sitting in quiet meditation or spending time in nature. As difficult as it may seem, try to take at least 60 minutes for yourself each week.
This need not happen all in one stretch. Allowing yourself 15 minutes before bedtime to disconnect from electronics and read a book counts as personal time. Making a few minutes for yoga after getting out of bed before the children wake up works, too.
Understand Life Happens
Regardless of individual circumstances, some days doing it all proves a breeze, other days, it feels more like trying to climb a mountain while dragging a loaded semi. Understand bad days happen to us all. We all have days where ordering a pizza is the only way to get the kiddos fed, we don’t make time for exercise and the workday drags on like a 20 inning ball game. And every mother loses her patience from time to time.
Forgive yourself when you have a bad day. Instead of dwelling on everything wrong, simply make a commitment to try again tomorrow.
Women Can Have It All
Juggling work, family and self-care isn’t easy, but women are hardy folk who make it look effortless. The next time you feel overwhelmed, remember these tips and reclaim your life balance.