5 Ways to Make Being a Working Mom Work for You

5 ways to make being a working mom work for you

Before I became a mom, the decision to go back to work after I had a child seemed pretty straightforward. I didn’t naively think it would be easy, or that I wouldn’t miss my kid, but I had no idea just how hard it would be to juggle work life and mom life without losing my sanity. While I can’t say I’ve found the secret to finding that elusive balance, there are a few things I’ve learned.

{one} Continue a habit that makes you feel normal. Is there something you did before having kids that you enjoyed but has fallen by the wayside? Did you train for races, read mystery novels, or maybe have regular brunch dates with friends? For me, that habit was cooking dinner on weeknights and trying new recipes.

Weeknights can be hurried and hectic, especially right before dinner. At first I was tempted to eschew “real” cooking in favor of reheating something pre-made or ordering takeout. However, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and I found that taking the time to prepare a meal allowed me to slow down and focus during that crazy time of day. 

Cooking may not have that effect on you, and you may be thinking that it does just the opposite. I encourage you to find a habit that helps you feel like “you” and make time to practice it regularly.

Continue a habit that makes you feel normal.

{two} Let something go. This is kind of the opposite of my first point, and something I had a really hard time with. I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before and learned that I am an Upholder, which means that I strive to meet my own expectations for myself in addition to the expectations of others. Often, this is a good thing, but when it comes to letting go of certain expectations for myself, I struggle.

For example, before having a child I was an avid couponer. You couldn’t have made a TLC show about my savings, but I did love to see the total bill drop significantly at the cash register thanks to some strategically clipped coupons. Yet for me, coupon clipping was a time consuming process, and after having a baby it was time I simply didn’t have.

Remember that you cannot do it all, and no one (but you!) expects you to. Give yourself permission to let go of something, even if it’s something small. Your sanity will thank you.

Prioritize time for you.

{three} Prioritize time for you. Prioritize is the key word here, because I know lots of mamas who want time for themselves, but they don’t make it a priority. They put the needs of their kids, their spouses, their bosses, coworkers, and everyone else first. Putting yourself at the bottom of your priority list is not a sustainable way to live, it only leads to resentment and frustration.

I am a planner and a scheduler. As my husband says, “If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t happen.” Therefore I have no shame in scheduling time for myself. I tend to dread Mondays (who doesn’t, right?) so I started making Monday night my relaxation night. I spend the evening with a glass of wine, catching up on blog reading. It gives me something to look forward to, no matter how Monday-ish my Monday was.

Write it in your planner. Put a reminder on your phone. Do whatever you need to do to make time for yourself, and stick to it!

{four} Lose control…share responsibilities. You do not have to do everything yourself. I repeat, you do not have to do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to share parenting responsibilities with your significant other; being the mom does not mean that you are the only one capable of taking care of your child. Single moms, even you likely have well-meaning relatives who offer to help out from time to time. Take them up on it occasionally!

Based on everything you’ve read so far about my super flexible personality type, I’m sure you can imagine how easy this idea is for me. Ha. I didn’t want my husband doing the laundry, or giving Jona a bath, or rocking him to sleep, because he wasn’t doing it MY way (you know, the right way). Trying to do everything myself took its toll, so little by little I started taking my husband up on his offers to help. 

Remember that you are not any less of a mom if you let others help you. 

Remember what's important.

{five} Remember what’s important. Chances are, you won’t get your to-do list completed every day. When you’re trying to balance work, family, and household duties, there is an endless amount of things to be done. However, don’t feel guilty about ignoring that list and just being there with your family.

As a professional sweater of the small stuff, sometimes I struggle to see the big picture. I tend to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, or when I don’t accomplish what I feel like I should in a given day. Saturday, for example, a day meant for relaxing and having fun, right? For me, however, Saturday is the day to do all the things I can’t squeeze in during the week. A few weekends ago, I ignored my Saturday to-do list to go hang out with some friends, and on the drive to their house I felt so guilty about all the tasks I wouldn’t get done that day. Later though, as I watched our kids play together, I realized letting go of my list was the best decision I could have made.

There will always be more housework to do, more errands to run, and more things to add to your to-do list. However, don’t focus so much on these things that you forget to invest your time in the people you love.

Working moms, how do you balance work life and home life?

Images (except the last one) via unsplash

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10 Responses to 5 Ways to Make Being a Working Mom Work for You

  1. Jess February 25, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Oh man did I need to hear number 4. And I guess 3 for that matter too! I feel like my husband and I do a pretty good job with the division of labor in our house because we each have our “jobs” we’ve attached to and always take on, but I think it would probably be healthy to switch those up sometimes. I’m also the worst at making time for myself and putting my time at the bottom of the priority list!

    • Shea
      Shea February 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks Jess! We kind of do the same thing, although when Jona was first born I tried to take on all the parenting jobs… not a good idea! I think we all struggle with making time for ourselves, it can be so hard!

  2. Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom February 25, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    So many great tips. I think the one I struggle with the most is sharing responsibility. I feel like, oh I am the mom… I need to do it all. It really is impossible to do everything, you have to ask for help!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

    • Shea
      Shea February 25, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

      That was SO how I felt too Carrie, I felt like I had to do it all too. I hate asking for help! But sometimes, it’s worth your sanity 🙂

  3. Kiki - According to Kiki February 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    This was such a hard thing for me to get back into the swing of. If I had to say there was one thing no one told me about having a baby, it’d be having to leave your baby. Even now, she’s two and my stomach turns a bit having to leave her. However, I know the time apart is good for us. I know that it makes our time together that much more special. Getting back into the swing of things was rough at first. There were a lot of failed routines, but one that ended up working. I’d say establishing a routine is the best way to feel in control!

    • Shea
      Shea February 28, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

      I completely agree with you about no one telling you just how hard it is to leave your child–and how hard it continues to be, even 2 years later! I like your perspective though, how working away from home helps you make the time you have together that much more special–thanks for that reminder Kiki!

  4. Kara knaack February 29, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    So much practical wisdom for all moms, not just working moms! I have the hardest time saying no to things I think I should have the time to do. ” let it go…”

    • Shea
      Shea March 1, 2016 at 8:32 am #

      Thanks so much Kara! Letting stuff go is so hard, I have such a hard time saying no also!

  5. Tessa Shull April 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    Love Gretchen Rubin! Read her book, The Happiness Project, and was completely inspired to get more organized.

  6. Ada April 19, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

    Shea is pretty much super mom. She is one of my favorite REAL bloggers and mom bloggers. Great post from her. I enjoyed it so much. I should follow her advise!