The Juggle Is Real… Nailing The Work/Mum Balance
Beyond a doubt one of the hardest challenges of my life is attempting to get the balance right between work and mothering (oh and don’t forget my role as a wife, a daughter and then fitting in “me” time!). Despite the difficulties, I enjoy being a working mother (and each to their own – no judgement to those amazing stay at home mums!). My work days make me look forward to coming home to my little ones… and those days at home make me look forward to work!
But the struggle is real – I am constantly feeling like I am not quite doing either role to my absolute best. Or if I am kicking goals at work, things are less rosy on the home front and vice versa. It’s a work in progress and literally a juggle to keep all balls in the air, but after a living a working life with two kids under the age of two here are my top tips for you working Mums out there:
1. Preparation Preparation Preparation
I’m talking meal times for the week pre-decided (beats trying to think of ideas on a daily basis resulting in decision fatigue!), everyone’s clothes laid out the night before, lunches pre packed and bags waiting by the door. An extra 20 minutes effort in the evening saves my morning marathon of getting everyone out the door fed and looking half decent!
2. Don’t try and mix the roles
I’m learning to try and be mentally in “work mode” or “parent mode”, not both. When I first had babies at home, I imagined myself being able to take calls and return emails in between feeding and bath times. At the end of the day I just felt deflated at really not being able to accomplish much on the work front, nor be mentally present for my children. Now, I try and leave work at work (even if that means staying back 15 minutes at the office to finish off tasks), and I leave my role as a mother at home. This means I can allow myself to enjoy and be present in whatever role I am in at the time.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Ok, the beds were not made this morning, the children had chicken nuggets last night and your husband bought the wrong brand of nappies. This is a hard one for me, but I am trying to let things slide a little. The ironing does not always have to be up to date and the kids won’t suffer from the odd meal that is not home made. What the kids will remember is that silly song you sang in the car, the way you rolled on the grass with them, and bedtime stories. In a world filled with beautiful Instagram images, it’s perhaps time to remind ourselves that we in fact can’t always have it all.
4. Take care of yourself
This one is said so often, but I still don’t see mothers doing it! Yes, I know we understand it, but actually putting it into place is another thing. This means booking in a time with your partner to take the kids for a few hours on a Saturday while you do nothing but stroll the shops. It means checking out for half an hour ta the end of the day with a glass of wine and hot bath. I know, your brain will tell you “but there is so many more things I should/ could be accomplishing with that time”. The ironing can wait. You can’t pour from an empty glass….
5. Let go of Mother guilt
Oh Lordy here is a big one! Take note – Guilt is a TRAP . Often when Mum’s do get time away from their children (whether it be at the office or a girls night out), the time is ‘contaminated’ with the niggling thoughts of their children in the back of their minds. Why spoil your precious free time? Instead, remind yourself of what a wonderful role model you are providing for your children – an independent working mother who has their own dreams and ambitions.
Founder of Laybrook, Psychologist, wine and French lover, and Mum to Lulu and Charlie