Motherhood and Employment: A Dozen Ways to Find Balance
How women balance work and home life
It seems that no matter how young or old a mother is when she has a baby, if she does not have the option to stay at home, and many mothers do not, the dilemma of balancing work and motherhood arises.
Some mothers opt to return to work because they have established careers that they feel they must continue in order to meet competency standards within their professions. One example of this is nursing. For those who step out of the hospital scene for just three years new, updated equipment or state-of-the-art online documentation has been implemented. If one doubles the wait to return, about the age that her child will attend school full time, the changes that occur in her field have broadened, requiring additional training, or in some cases, a refresher course before being rehired.
Other women do not have a choice to stay home or work, and it may not be a ‘career’ they are returning to, but the very livelihood that will make a difference between having a home and being homeless. Many of these women are part of a two income family struggling to make ends meet at minimum wage jobs and the state of our current economy does not offer them the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom, or SAHM. Other hardworking mothers are single parents and sole providers for the food and shelter their family will have.
What a Working Mom Does:
However many hours a woman works outside of her home she will put in a long day. This is because, no matter if she has additional home help and distributes the household duties or not, she is typically the one organizing the activities within the household. This includes: housecleaning, extracurricular activities, social obligations and entertaining, shopping, cooking, and medical appointments.
Add a pet or two to the mix and there is even more stress on the woman to handle additional responsibilities. This doesn’t include the tasks of churchgoing and school activities. And, if a parent is being fully involved in raising her child, school activities mean: homework, teacher conferences, school concerts and plays and field trips.
It certainly sounds like a full load and no room to breathe for ‘mommy time’. How does one stay sane with the strain of trying to do it all? Here are some suggestions, although most women I know would rather do it themselves then to call on others to help out.
Three suggestions for balancing work and home life
1. Seek contentment in your decisions. Don’t allow feelings of guilt to influence the need to work or allow the behavior of children at home to influence you negatively.
2. Have a back-up plan for a sick child so you are not leaving your job and threatening the security of your employment with the company. Be willing to pay for competent childcare.
3. Wherever you are being there in the moment is an important stress reliever. Leave work at work and give your children full attention when arriving home; likewise, at work-keep family matters out of your mind and work place until you are back home. Your employer deserves undivided attention as well.
Enjoy each family moment
Working MOM's Helpful Hint # 4
4. Find time for yourself. This is probably the number one item that gets sacrificed when it comes to working motherhood. I understand the difficulty in finding time when there does not seem to be even five minutes to spare…or that five minutes is a matter of an extra moment to sleep. But, you can’t get water if the well runs dry, and too many women allow themselves to be run dry. How do you find that time? An early awakening is the most beneficial, I’ve found. Set your alarm thirty to sixty minutes ahead of the rest of the household and do what you want to do for yourself: soak in the tub, read a chapter or two, meditate, take an early morning walk through the neighborhood, sit on the deck with a cup of coffee undisturbed, drive to the gym and work out, do something different each morning…
But, the most important thing is to NOT use this to throw the laundry in, do the dishes, etc. If you begin and end your day doing housework, and you sandwich the kids, husband’s and bosses needs in between all of that, you are not taking care of yourself in the best way that will allow you to stay healthy. Remember the advice from the airline stewardesses: put your own oxygen mask on before helping someone else with theirs
Employed Mothers Helpful Hints # 5-6-7
5. Make a coffee date with your partner once a week-you deserve to maintain your relationship. Barter with neighbors or relatives to exchange time and give you a date in order to catch up with what is happening during the week. If you absolutely cannot break away from the kids or the house, have your date within the confines of the house, without interruption from the kids.
6. Have (older) children help out-each member of the household must feel important and part of a contributing member of the family. Older children can do more complex chores and sit for younger siblings; younger ones can do very simple chores that will build feelings of self-esteem. We do our children a disservice by doing everything for them.
7. Spread the responsibilities between you and your partner-no one likes a martyr. If you do not ask, your husband/partner will not know what you expect. As close as the two of you are, and as obvious as you see some things that need to be completed, (i.e. folding laundry just out of the dryer), men rarely look at things with the eyes of a woman. If you do not communicate your needs in a calm, clear manner your husband will not read your
How to balance Work and Motherhood: Hints # 8-9-10
8. Keep the criticism to a minimum-one of the observations I’ve made is that women complain that their husbands do not help, but when they do, they cannot stand how their husbands do the job. Ladies-please relax and become flexible and less controlling in the household. There truly is more ways than your way to fold clothes, dress junior or cook breakfast. It’s a team-not a dictatorship.
9. Alternate between you and your partner for appointments. All appointments: medical, dental, school conferences, taking a sick day if the sitter is not available during your child’s illness, can be swapped between you and your husband so that you are not the one who is doing it all. In some cases, i.e. your husband’s job has a higher income, or demands for his participation, this is not practical, but look at each situation to see how you can free up more time for yourself.
10. Keep the kids on a routine and follow it for morning and bedtime-a household goes smoother with a routine and dependability on getting out the door, (or to bed), within the time frame you’ve designated. With very young kids this may free you up for some downtime before hitting the sack.
Finding balance as a working mom: helpful hints # 11 and #12
11. Have girlfriend time-it doesn’t have to be anything more than an undisturbed phone call, but we all need to find someone to relax and unwind with. Make it a priority even if it is a two hour lunch once a month. It will refresh you and rebuild your stamina until the next round.
12. Stay healthy-through exercise, (a walk around the block with the dog counts), eating healthy food, getting a restful sleep, reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake, and practicing relaxation. Even better than making this a solo job: involve the whole family. You will be healthier, happier, and able to cope with situations more easily. Besides, you may find exercising as a family unit a great way to get to know each other!