Moms are superheroes. We all know that. But even superheroes need a bit of guidance at times. Being a mom, the essential operator of the home, taking care of yourself, and having a career or pursuing entrepreneurial dreams are all full time jobs. It’s a lot to manage. Let’s talk about some ways that will help you find some inner balance between both worlds.
“Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.” — Cheryl Lacey Donovan
Notice up there how I said “inner” balance, key word being “inner”. It comes from within. Much of what you need to balance comes from your emotional intelligence and your capacity to manage situations while keeping in mind what your outcome may be. As you read today’s article, please note that you shouldn’t take any advice (at least IMO) down to the last detail. I believe you should take it as it applies- take it as a grain of salt.
Okay, let’s dive in.
1. Come to this realization
I’ve now been a Mom for 6 1/2 months, and I can officially conclude that many moms have their hands in multiple baskets at the same time. We’re practically cephalopods.
The realization you need to come to terms with is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” balance, and that no routine can stay the same forever. Did you have a perfectly balanced life before you had children? I didn’t think so. Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect one thing to be set in stone when trying to find your unique balance. Something I’ve learned in this journey as a Mom, is that balance will never be perfect. You can try all the different routines that you want and “plan” every step of the way, but it cannot always stay static. I’ve decided to embrace this aspect of motherhood. Embrace the challenges that come along with it and you’ll find yourself more accepting of the imbalances you face.
With that, it’s easy to find ourselves feeling incompetent in the work life or the mom life. Us moms have a ton of pressure on ourselves as it is without even having the work pressure on. The good news is, there is a way to find balance, and balance is going to look differently for each individual mom.
2. Focus on the positive
I understand that as a mom we’re always guilt tripping ourselves with one thing or another (at least I am). “I’m working too much. I’m not spending enough time with my baby. I’m not doing enough interactive activities with them when I am home”. We have this endless list of things we always seem to find wrong… chuck them out the window!
Focus on the positive things that you bring to the table for your family. You’ve taken the daunting decision to go back to work: you’re not “abandoning” your child. You’re contributing financially and setting a good example for responsibility. If you’re lucky enough to be a full time, stay-at-home mom, you’re not a burden. Being a full-time mom is just as much work as a “real” job.
I too have struggled with burdening thoughts of feeling like I was dead weight after I had my son. I felt like because I wasn’t contributing financially, I was essentially not contributing at all. This is far from the truth.
3. What’s important to you?
The dishes need to be done. There’s still three loads of laundry that need to be folded. You promised your little one you’d watch their favorite Disney movie with them earlier. At the end of the day we need to make decisions that are more important than a few house chores. I know how quickly house work can seem like it’s piling up at the end of the day when it appears like the Tasmanian devil just stormed through your living room. You just need to decide what needs to come next. Saying no to invitations for a night-out so you can take care of yourself, your family, or your needs. I’m not saying you need to become a hermit either.
How often have you decided on cleaning first before playing with your baby? How many times have you chose running errands over going to the park? Or vice versa? Make it a regular thing to choose the things that feed your soul more often.
5. Adjust your expectations.
If you really think about it, you’re the only one actually demanding all of this extra pressure from yourself. That you need to have a spotless house at the end of the day, and a freshly cooked meal, and meet your needs and your families. No one else is expecting you to have all of these insignificant tasks completed on top of taking care of your child/children. And if they are, that’s just unrealistic.
Having a freshly prepared home-cooked meal every single day isn’t going to make or break your family. Ordering take out once in a while isn’t going to destroy their health. You aren’t always going to be able to complete every single thing on your daily to do list. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Our heads get pretty messy up there with all the thinking and pending this we have in mind pretty much 24/7.
Something I find very helpful is using my journal or my calendar I keep on fridge for the organization of my daily schedule. I like to put my top 3 tasks each day and even designate certain bulk tasks that I would do for each day of the week. Monday I take on this category of tasks, Tuesday this, Wednesday, etc…
Also- separate morning tasks from evening tasks. For me personally, when it comes to working, I am most productive first thing in the morning. When it comes to the evening, my body just shifts into its relaxing, family bonding mode. So that’s what I do for evenings. I decided to stop fighting natural urges and placing my routine in favor to my schedule.
My advice would be to not just take someone else’s exact daily schedule. Yes, it helps to see what other people are doing and you SHOULD check it out, but don’t map your day out hour-for-hour.
Try this out: on the next Monday from the time that you’re reading this, or if today happens to be Monday, at the end of the day, write down all of the tasks you’ve done along the day. You don’t need to track every time you went to the bathroom- I’m talking more about things like “7 am got ready. 8 prepared breakfast. 9am started the workday. 10 am completed X task. 12 pm lunch break.” Etcetera etcetera. It might seem tedious, and maybe you won’t actually do it, but it’s there’s no reference point better than yourself.
Lastly, as you’re tracking those tasks you’re doing, write down how you actually felt about doing them. How were your energy levels? Did you dread starting certain tasks? Which ones took the longest? Which tasks were you repeatedly losing focus on? Doing this is going to allow you to reflect back at the end of the work week so you can see where your efforts are being spent and where you can better adjust them.
You could just simply think about what you did at the end of each day, but I feel like when we actually write these things down to recreate better systems for, it brings so much more functionality for its structure.
7. Stop worrying about being a “good” mom
Let me just point out that if you’re worried about whether or not you’re on the track of being a “good” mom, I’d say you’re covered!
Don’t worry about what your child may or may not think about you not being home some parts of the week while you’re away at work. Do you really think that at the end of the day when you come home, they’re holding a grudge against you for it? Probably not mama. They’re just happy to have you home. They aren’t going to remember that you didn’t make a fresh home-cooked meal when you got home from work, or that you folded laundry nice and neat and tucked it away in their drawers. They’re going to remember how even though you were exhausted, you still made an effort to bring out their laughter. To make messy forts in the living room and put on a movie with snacks.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” —Jill Churchill