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After my first child was born, I went back to work full-time, and I was absolutely miserable. As a working mom, I never got to spend much time with my son during the week, and it made me feel truly unhappy. I ended up leaving the full-time workforce and sacrificing my income as the primary breadwinner for our family, in order to stay home with him. Fast forward almost 10 years and a second child later, I’m now a full-time freelancer with a flourishing career. It’s not perfect. In fact, it’s down-right hard, but throughout the years I’ve learned some tips and tricks that make balancing motherhood and a career much more manageable. Balancing mom life and boss life really is possible! Keep reading to find out some tips to help you better manage life as a working mom.
Set a Flexible Schedule
By the time my son was six weeks old—before my maternity leave even ended—I realized that I needed structure. My baby needed structure. Neither of us were sleeping and it was putting a damper on our days. I knew it wouldn’t be sustainable once I returned to work, so I gently started implementing a schedule. Well, more of a routine really. Times weren’t set in stone, but every day, we did certain things in a certain order. It helped me stay organized and it helped my son know what to expect and when. I did the same thing with my second baby, and now that they’re both in school full-time and I’m working full-time, it serves us quite well. Everyone knows when we eat, when homework gets done, when we leave for extra-curriculars, when to shower and when it’s bedtime. Weekends are much more freestyle, but my kids can handle it, because they’re not frazzled from the week prior.
Decide On Your Priorities
None of us can do it all. Even if we could, there aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s best to accept that as soon as possible, because once you do, you’ll be able to prioritize the things that really matter to you. Whether it’s family dinner, a daily workout or getting to sleep in on the weekends, decide what’s worth pushing to a later time so that you can do the things that matter most to you. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot more fulfilled if you can make that one thing happen on a regular basis. For me, it’s a daily workout. I know that means I’ll have to work after the kids are in bed on occasion, and I’m okay with that.
Get Organized On School Nights
Whether your kids are in daycare or school, it pays to do a little prep work before you go to bed in the evenings. Make lunches, pack bags, set up the coffeemaker, lay out the clothes, etc. Anything that you can do ahead of time, do it, especially if you or your kids aren’t morning people. You can even prepare weekday breakfasts on the weekends or at night, so that there are easy, nutritious options like overnight oats or whole-grain muffins at the ready during the week. Being organized and prepared for the next day will help streamline your mornings so that you’re less stressed and more mentally prepared to take on your work day once the kids are off to school or daycare.
Establish a Day Off
With two kids, our family’s extracurricular activities schedule is jam-packed. But, everyone needs a rest day. Pick one day of the week that you keep activity-free so that you and the kids can recharge and catch up on things around the house. It can be a weekday or a weekend day—whatever works for your schedules. The day may also change seasonally, and that’s okay. Just make sure you have at least one free evening a week. Resting doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you smart. It’s a form of self-care that will actively keep you from burning out, which would be far worse for everyone than taking a planned break to support your mental health and that of your children.
Have a Family Fun Day
Families need bonding time. Full stop. This should be a priority for everyone. You need regular time to connect with your kids and they need to connect with you. So, pick one weekend day to designate a family fun day. Share meals and go on family outings to the park or a museum or even the library. Go for hikes or bike rides together. Or of course, you can spend a few hours playing video games, watching movies or catching up on your favorite TV shows. Make it fun, don’t stress and try not to say “no” too much. And most importantly, remember that work can wait! Put aside your work to-do list and turn off those email notifications so you can be fully present with your family.
With a little bit of forethought and planning, being a full-time working mom who isn’t stressed 24/7 is possible. No matter what age your kids are, there are simple ways to create balance in your life so that everyone is happier and more connected. Remember that perfection shouldn’t be the goal, and in most cases, it’s not even possible. What really matters is that you’re doing the best that you can as an individual—no comparisons or feelings of guilt necessary. You got this mamá!