Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed being a working mom? Like it is almost impossible to balance all of the different things you are doing and taking care of all of the people who need you?
Does it feel like if you are succeeding in one area of your life– maybe you are killing it at work lately– that your family life is suffering? Or, if things are going really smooth at home, your work is suffering?
I feel that way a lot.
Every working mom knows that life as a working mom can be stressful. I know I am constantly looking for ways to make my life easier as a working mom. I’m guessing you are too.
When we first sat down and calculated our student loan debt and figured out our goals of how we want to navigate our debt, it became clear that I was going to have to work full time and not become a stay at home mom, at least for the next five years while we are paying off debt. I honestly do not know what I would have chosen if our student loan debt was not a factor.
I had NO idea what kind of balance struggle I was about to enter into joining the work force with a babe in tow. When I’m not with my little guy, I feel guilty. When I’m with my little guy and not working, I feel guilty. Its like a perpetual state of guilt and craziness trying to balance everything to do a good job at all the various things I’m undertaking. (We chatted about this on an Instagram story today). I’ve since learned to do my best to not let myself feel guilty every second of the day and I’ve also come up with several things that make my life easier as a working mom.
And I guess I shouldn’t be so sexist. This list is totally applicable to working dads too. And stay at home parents alike, because heaven knows that can be just as (maybe even more) chaotic. So when life gets crazy as it sometimes does and you need a refresher, here is a list of things YOU can do to make your life easier as a working mom (or dad, or just as a parent generally).
GIVE UP SOME CONTROL AND DELEGATE TASKS.
I was a pretty easy going person before law school and before I had a child. I think both experiences frankly turned me into a crazy person. Even though Danny and I became parents at the exact same time, I noticed myself starting to boss him around in the way he parented. Like because I was the mother, I somehow knew better than he did. Not cool. Even though he did things differently than me, I had to learn to just let him be who he is and stop trying to control the way he does things– since no one was dying/no bad stuff was going on. I’ve had to give up control in other areas too. We’re teaching our toddler to clean up after himself. That means 90% of the time things don’t look nearly as organized as I’d like. But I don’t have a ton of free time to make my house perfect so I’ve learned to accept the way he cleans for now in a sense. We still teach him how to do things better but I don’t break my back over the state of being of my house hold. Another example– I might have a way that I like dinner to be made. But if I ask my husband to “take care of dinner” and he makes Ramen noodles, then I have to accept that. If that bothers me, that is a conversation that should happen before its time for dinner.
GIVE IN TO THINGS THAT ARE CONVENIENT.
I also quickly learned the value of things that are convenient. For example, when we were looking for a preschool for M we researched dozens of different schools and weighed factors like the cost, philosophy of the school, distance from our house, etc. There was a school about 15-20 minutes away from our house that I fell in love with. We started the process of enrolling M and then stopped ourselves. Did we really want to spend an ADDITIONAL 20 minutes (each way, so really 40 minutes) in the car? That is valuable time that we could spend doing quality activities with M or working or doing literally anything else besides being in the car. We opted for a preschool that is in our neighborhood even though it wasn’t our “dream school” it is still WONDERFUL and we have since fallen in love with the teachers and philosophy of the school. We know M is getting a great education and is in wonderful care and that is all that really matters. I give in to plenty of other things that are convenient as well. I’ve found some pretty tasty meals in the frozen section at the grocery store that aren’t more expensive than something I would have to make from scratch (for ex: last night we had frozen raviolis. They cost $2.72 and feed our family of 4 for 2 meals. We paired them with oranges and a pre-chopped salad that cost $1.66 and took less than 5 minutes to make!)
ACCEPT THAT NOT EVERYTHING WILL BE PERFECT AT ALL TIMES.
If you are going to be a working momma, you should accept that your life does not have to be perfect at all times. Some days you are going to get stuck late at the office. That means you’re not going to have time to get to those dirty dishes in the sink. It might even mean that you have to opt for a premade dinner. Do yourself a favor and accept that everything doesn’t have to be perfect at all times. If you a perfectionist, you won’t like hearing that. Don’t misunderstand me. Sometimes things will feel perfect(ish)– things will flow and you will feel like you are on top of the world. But sometimes they won’t. Sometimes one or more of the balls you are juggling might get dropped. What I’m saying is– that is ok! Things don’t have to be perfect for you and your family to have a happy fulfilled life.
LOOK FOR SHORT CUTS.
If you are a working mom, you are probably busy. So you need to find short cuts that work for you. And you need to let go of any guilt associated with those short cuts. Find makeup and hair routines that are quick. Do workouts that get your heart rate up and simultaneously include strength training (plenty of these style of workouts here). Make cleaning in the evenings a game– set a timer for ten minutes and see how many things the whole family can clean within that time.
PLAN YOUR WEEK IN ADVANCE.
Once a week, take time to think about what is headed your way the upcoming week. Are there doctors appointments? Big work meetings? Parent teacher conferences? Work deadlines? Sit down and write out all of the big things that you need to accomplish that week. This will help you coordinate those items together so you know if there are conflicts in your schedule and you can work them out accordingly. There is nothing worse than finding out you are supposed to be in two places at once at the last minute or having to rush to an appointment that you had forgotten about. Writing down those items in on paper or in a smartphone will help ease the chaos of your week. You can even plan out the small details of your life– what day(s) and time(s) you will workout, date night with your s/o, etc. The better planned out things are, the easier your week will be. That being said, don’t become a total stick in the mud. Your plan is more like a guideline– some things might have to change during the week. A plan is there simply to make things easier.
GET EVERYTHING READY FOR YOUR DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE.
Plan ahead what clothes you and your kid(s) are going to wear the coming day and lay them out, including diapers, socks, and shoes. Pack lunches the night before and get any bags needed for the coming day ready the night before and lay them out by the door so you can quickly grab them in the morning. Set out non perishable things that you would use for breakfast. Perform any possible task that you can that you would otherwise have to do in the morning. This has been a total game changer for me in order to get out the door on time in the morning.
WAKE UP TEN MINUTES EARLIER.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received in my life was to wake up ten minutes earlier than normal. It doesn’t seem like much, but it makes all the difference in whether I am leaving the house in complete panic or if I feel in control of my day. If I wake up ten minutes earlier, I can get lunches organized, I can meditate/pray/read, I can actually have breakfast, I can put makeup on– the list goes on for ten minutes! Seriously if you don’t make any other change on this list, make this one. Ten minutes a day goes a LONG way.
CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY.
I know I know, its not always easy. There are times as a working mom that life can frankly be hellacious– the toddler is throwing the biggest tantrum of his life, dinner is burning on the stove, the dog literally just scratched down the bedroom door, all while you are on the phone with your boss (this literally was my day today). The fact of the matter is, as a mom, there are many times where you would be justified to completely lose it and take it out on the ones you love most. Take a deep breath and try to remember why you are doing the things that you are doing. Do your best to feel happy and grateful for the life you have. We’re only given one chance at life, so choose to make it a happy one. That attitude alone will make your life SO MUCH easier as a working mom.
USE YOUR TIME WISELY.
If you commute, find ways to work or run your house hold while you are on the go. Is there a doctor’s appointment that can be scheduled on the phone while you are driving? Is there a work meeting that can be done over the phone? Is there an audio file you can listen to while you drive? In addition, don’t waste time on social media and watching TV or other time sucking activities. The more time you waste, the more stressed you will feel about whatever task you are shirking. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take time out to relax, just simply that time for that should be carved out in your schedule and used judiciously. Are there any tasks you can combine? For example, if you are going to cook dinner, you are already using that time to cook. So why not cook a ton? Cook enough of whatever you are making for at LEAST two meals, ideally many more. That way, you can freeze the extra meal(s) for a future dinner, or you can freeze them into individual serving for lunch, or maybe both. Either way, you are already using that time, so might as well get more bang for your buck.
JUST SAY NO.
Are you a people pleaser? I know I am. “Just saying no” is probably the hardest thing for me on this list. I like to make people happy. I like to say yes. But here is the deal– and you already know this. YOU CANNOT MAKE EVERYONE EVERYWHERE HAPPY AT ALL TIMES. You cannot literally do everything. Being a people pleaser can backfire on you in SO MANY different ways. So, if there is something that someone asks you to do that simply will not work for you at the time, JUST SAY NO. Be polite. Be kind. Explain your circumstances if you have to, but at some point, you have to stop accepting more tasks so that you can focus on and do a good job of the things you are already doing. You can be a great mom and a great employee (and great at all the other tasks you have at hand) but part of being great is knowing when it is time to say no. You might have to say no to making 100 cupcakes for your kids’ party at school. You might have to say no to a new work assignment if your schedule can’t handle it. You might have to say no to letting your kid go out on Friday night if your family is in desperate need of some family time. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to say NO. Really. It is OK.
Being a mom is amazing. Having a successful career is amazing. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And you don’t have to lose your mind trying to keep up with both. Practice this list. Each of the tasks will get easier the more you practice, just like any other skill, such as playing the piano. And if you take nothing else from this list, take away the last point. JUST SAY NO! Don’t add anything else to make your life more crazy. You don’t need to. You got this.
What things have made your life easier as a mom? We’d love to hear from you!
You can also follow us on Instagram where you’ll get tons of behind the scenes looks into how our family deals with big debt on the daily. 🙂