Getting that work life balance can be tough, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. These tips will help you to make the most of both.
It isn’t impossible for women to succeed in their careers while being homemakers. There are many women who enjoy the best of both worlds. The point is that you should never have to sacrifice one in favour of the other. There are tools that you can use to achieve a successful work life balance.
1. Start Early and Build a Support System
Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart, argues that the only way for women to truly achieve work-life balance is for them to find a good husband in their 20’s and carry out proper family planning. A good husband by her standards is one who loves completely and shares all responsibilities. She encourages women to avoid putting off marriage and children for their 30’s because by then it may be too late. (Well…whoops! for lots of us on that one)
While we don’t agree with the core premise, her controversial viewpoint has some merit. And that’s that having the right partner can help you better handle things at home. This ultimately means that you will also have time to focus on your career. The problem is that finding the right partner isn’t as simple as it seems. Statistics support this fact. Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise in an article entitled “For Women Under 30, Most Births occur Outside of Marriage” published in The New York Times state that “more than half of the births to American women under 30 occur outside of marriage.” Without a reliable partner to equally share the responsibilities of running a home with, the challenges of balancing work and home life increase ten-fold when you add children to the mix. This doesn’t mean, however, that single parents can’t find work life balance. It may take more work, but it is possible. And we know lots of parents who are killing it either way. If a romantic partner isn’t on the cards look at other ways of building a support system, that could be friends, family, or even your neighbours if you’ve close relationship with them.
2. Make Work Life Balance A Goal
Balancing work and home life also isn’t possible if you don’t make it a priority. Choosing one over the other is easy to do. However, you have to learn how to choose both. This is a daily choice and some days may be more difficult than others. But it is a challenge that you can overcome. This may need some juggling on your part. Perhaps some late nights, or some early mornings, or both but it’s important to set achievable goals for yourself. And don’t forget to celebrate the wins along the way.
3. Let Go of the Guilt
Guilt may be one of the factors holding you back. This is especially true for new mothers who often feel that going back to work means that they are abandoning their children. Let the guilt go. You aren’t a terrible mother. You are a woman who is helping put food on the table while showing as much love and care for your children as you can give. You are showing them that you have ambition, drive, and that building a happy life is important. And that for you, your career is an important part of that. Your children won’t feel neglected and unloved if you play your cards right. This of course, is easier said than done. So don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Reaching out to other working mothers is vital, it’s important to find other women who have your back.
4. Look for Flexible Childcare
Secondary caregivers are going to play a major role in your life. You may need to find a nanny, babysitter, daycare center, or combination of the three to help take care of your child. Ask your friends and family for recommendations and make the time to either interview candidates or visit potential daycare centers. Pay particular attention to nannies or babysitters who have been with a family for the long-term. Long-term commitment shows loyalty and valuable experience. We also know that this may not be financially viable for everyone, so you may need to call on family or friends to help share the load. Remember the old maxim, it takes a village to raise a child.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan
A working mother may need to be more strategic about how she completes daily tasks. One of the tasks that you should be able to easily check off your list is getting both yourself and your kids ready in the mornings. Do as much preparation as you can over the weekend or the night before. Pack lunches, plan outfits, iron clothes, lay out breakfast/homework etc. and do all of you can during these times. This prevents unnecessary rush and hassle when you’re trying to get your family ready and out of the house in time in the mornings.
6. Live by a Family Calendar
Stay organised by keeping a calendar of activities that the entire family sees. It’s important for everyone to know when important events are, when bills are due, and when chores should be done. Google Calendar is an easy tool to use that allows you to sync a calendar with several people and update it in real-time. If tech isn’t your bag, pop a whiteboard in the kitchen to help keep everyone up to date.
7. Talk to Your Boss
Bosses who have their own families tend to be more understanding than those who don’t. If your boss falls in the latter category, it would be prudent for you to get a collective opinion from other working moms in the workplace before presenting a case to this boss. Be open, honest, and equipped with alternative solutions. Remember that your boss wants the most efficient way to get work done. You have to be able to show him or her that this can be achieved without compromising your family life.
8. Make Time For Your Children
Find ways to connect with your children even when you’re not together. Give them encouraging notes, record videos that they can watch, or carve out the time to pick them up from school. Consider filming events that you have to miss, but don’t make missing events a habit. Time is your most important asset. If you think to your own childhood, the times spent together often make the best memories.
9. Create Special Family Activities
You can plan simple activities that bring the family together during everyone’s downtime. Think about a games night or movie night. There are a plethora of creative things that you can do at home that don’t cost a lot of money and help you spend time with your family. Why not have dinner outside with a picnic, or even just go for a nature walk and see what you can find.
10. Make Time for Date Night
If you have one, don’t neglect your relationship with you partner. Make time for date night at least once per month. That time is important for you both to reconnect and rekindle the flame. This isn’t time set aside to dwell on problems, arguments, or issues. It’s about taking some time out to talk to your partner, enjoy their company, and do something special just for the two of you. If you’re a single parent or co-parenting, use this time to connect with family or friends. It’s likely that there is someone other there that you’d love to catch up with.
10. Make Time for Yourself
You can’t pour into the lives of others if you don’t look after yourself. Take care of yourself. Find the time to just take a few minutes for relaxation and finding your center. These moments are what will give you the energy to make a true commitment to both your family and your work. It might be a quick ten minute meditation in the car between work and pick-ups, or a Saturday morning run to help shake off the cobwebs. Find what works you, but make sure you take some down time that is just for you.
Then Put it All Together
Striking a work/life balance begins with a good support system. The right partner, support from family or friends, help from your boss, or even just creating a manageable plan, all feed into this. Find a good secondary caregiver, plan, organise, talk to your boss, and make time for your spouse, children and most importantly, yourself. Families comes in all shapes and sizes, so don’t stress if yours doesn’t look like the “norm”. What’s important is that everyone helps to pull their weight and support one another. Striking a good work/balance helps this and vice versa. Doing these things will help you keep your sanity and excel in all areas of life. It might sound like a lot of moving parts, but start slowly and you’ll see results. And don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan. The most important thing is to start.
When you’re making a change in your life, it can be useful to share the ups, and downs, with others. What are your tips for working towards a better balance?