Work-life balance. Is there such a thing?
Whether you work part-time, full-time or from home, the life of a working mum is a constant juggle. And I don’t just mean paid work. All mums work hard, and even if you are an excellent juggler, chances are you have little to no time for yourself. Here are a few ways I’ve found can help me keep the chaos at bay when raising businesses and babies.
Catch moments when you can
There are some things that just need to get done in a day like the household admin tasks of paying bills. If you work in an office try and do these things while you are on your morning train commute or in your lunch hour. That way you don’t have the stress of needing to find time to do them at home.
When we have so many balls in the air it can be tempting to try and juggle a few tasks at the same time. But I find when I do that I end up achieving not much at all.
Instead just pick the top 3 things you must complete that day. When you can carve out pockets of time to work on them do so with a single focus. That means closing down social media and other tabs on your computer and focusing solely on the task at hand.
Same goes for doing housework. I don’t know how many times I have started something then seen something else that needs doing and moved to that and then I have five all half-finished jobs.
Find out what works for you
If you are trying to work from home on your laptop and the kids are demanding attention you are more prone to make mistakes. It might be a case that just for now, while your kids are young, work can only be done during nap time and before and after they wake up in the morning.
If you need more time, weigh up the costs of if you can afford to send them to childcare one day a week so you can have a focused day on the business.
It is all about finding out what works for you as there is no one size fits all approach that will work for everyone. If that means getting up early and working for an hour or two then that is great. If it means getting a few hours help from family a couple of days a week, that is great too.
Focus on finding out how you work best and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to build an empire while your kids are young.
Getting out the door in the morning (without anyone in tears) is the only thing you have to achieve before 8:30 a.m.
Stop trying to organise everything. Your only goals are to leave the house without your first-grader sobbing because she hates getting dressed in the morning. If that means you have to let the laundry pile grow and leave the dishes in the sink until the afternoon then so be it.
Go with your gut, and don’t second-guess it later
If you’ve spent days preparing for a meeting that starts in an hour and school calls to report a painful, though not hospital-worthy, monkey-bar injury, there’s no one right thing to do. On any given day, your instinct might be to skip the meeting. Or suggest that the nurse apply an ice pack and send your little one back to class. Make a snap decision and then―this is key―don’t question it later. Let it go. Really. I mean it.
Leave your kids (and the stories about them) at home
While I’m sure your co-workers love hearing about Sophie’s ballet recital, you can keep them begging for more by limiting updates on family life to one per week. Remember―bragging about your kids is what family parties are for.
Make yourself a priority
It’s not selfishness, it’s self-preservation. Whether it’s sitting down to watch Sex and the City re-runs, going out with the girls or simply having time for a long soak in the bath, make sure you factor in time for yourself and the things you enjoy. This is especially important at weekends when you may feel tempted to catch up on all the jobs you’ve fallen behind with during the week, between time spent ferrying children to parties and classes or seeing relatives you feel you should.
Cherish the good things about working
Apart from the money which pays the bills, hold onto the great things about your working day. It could be something as simple and every day as having a good laugh with workmates, drinking a coffee without having a small child clamouring to eat the chocolate on top, having your boss praise you or simply having five minutes to read your book on the train. Similarly, take time to hold onto the most magical parts of being a mummy too. There is room for both.
When balance is elusive, aim for harmony
Even though I have given you some tips on how you can achieve more balance in your life, the truth is sometimes balance just isn’t possible. Finding balance implies that you need to be a master juggler who can give equal attention to a number of areas in your life. When the reality is on some days my kids come first, some days my work takes priority and some days I put self-care first. I try not to look at it as if I am failing to have balance but instead strive for harmony in everything that comes to you and embrace the challenges.