All moms have stress, regardless of how and where we work. Working moms have a unique set of challenges. We “balance” full-time careers and full-time motherhood with all the responsibilities, curveballs, and craziness that comes with both roles. I get frustrated when I see us portrayed online as these overwhelmed, under-appreciated, frantic, and forgetful women running from the office to the car line, complaining about unhelpful husbands and kids who don’t listen. While I guess that gets an article clicked and shared, I don’t relate, and I don’t see these characteristics in the working moms I know either. In fact, many of the working moms in my life are the most together and organized people I know.
Do they have tough moments? I’m sure they do. We all do. Are we all perfect? Not even close. My last official meltdown was on December 15th, around 10:30 am, because Christmas, at that moment, was bullshit, and I was doing ALL THE WORK. But it was a moment in time, not my life. Yes, working and being a mother is hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.
My work has allowed me to meet and create friendships with so many remarkable women, many of whom already raised good families and enjoyed successful careers. I have been the recipient of some fantastic advice. Today, I’m sharing some of my best lessons learned – some very much learned the hard way – that have made me happier and allowed my life to run smoothly despite my busy career and family.
6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier
1. Teach Your Kids Independence Early
Once your kiddos hit a certain age and ability level, give them chores. That sounds easy enough, but as a recovering perfectionist, seeing my kids’ version of a neatly made bed used to make the vein on my forehead throb.
Take deep breaths and close the door.
Eventually, they get better. They’ll never learn if you always do it for them.
These days, we call chores “contributions.” Our philosophy is this: You’re part of a family; you live a beautiful life and have all the opportunity in the world. Therefore, you need to pull your weight. We base each of their assigned contributions on their age, skill, and, to a degree, their interest level. I found this chart on Etsy. It hangs right outside our kitchen so they know what to do every day.
2. Just Say “No”
We need to say no more often — not just when it comes to volunteering to make cookies for school when you know you have zero capacity or joining yet another committee, but to other time killers as well. Early in my life as a mom, someone told me, “If you do one thing, only make one dinner. If the kids don’t like it, too bad.” So, that has been our rule. It’s not always easy. Call me crazy, but I refuse to make more than one dinner a day.
Take a minute to look from the outside in and ask yourself: Am I making my life more difficult by saying “yes” to things I should be saying “no” to? Start to say no to the work you don’t have to do so you can say yes to the things that matter. Everyone will be better for it.
3. Embrace “Oh, Well”
Many working moms try to control everything because we understand that we are usually running a zero-margin game. This need for control really used to get to me. I had to make myself realize that I was trying to control everything and, as a result, getting super bent out of shape about it all. Now, I try to analyze what I’m getting worked up about and to give it value. Is it important, or can I just shrug my shoulder and say, “Oh, well”? If I can, I let it go. Can I tell you how amazing this is?
A friend stops over, and the house is a mess. Oh, well! Here’s a glass of wine.
The babysitter cancels, and we can’t go out. Bummer, but, oh, well!
Has school declared another snow day? Oh, well, but please, no more.
I didn’t get the gig I really wanted for work. Oh, well, something else will come along.
“Oh, well” means that you are acknowledging that you have no control over the situation or that it’s not that important. This technique teaches you how to manage disappointment better, allows you to make the best of the circumstances, and helps you to let go of the things that are inconsequential in the long run.
4. Get rid of your clutter.
Clutter is such a time killer. If you have clutter, you likely can’t find anything and are wasting a lot of energy, time, and money. By putting in the upfront work that comes with simplifying your life, you open up space not only in your home but also in your schedule and in your mind.
I enjoy following Emily Ley, a Florida based entrepreneur. Emily helps women simplify and organize their lives. She is the creator of The Simplified Planner and author of two books: Grace Not Perfection and The Simplified Life. She’s also a wife and mom of three. Her tips are practical and digestible. You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook. I am organized by nature and still learned many helpful new strategies.
5. Outsource and Automate
If your goal is to spend more time on what matters: your family, your work, your health and happiness, you have to realize you can’t do everything. If you have it in your budget, give yourself permission to outsource some household chores. You’ll get back hours in your week. This post from last year outlines everything we currently outsource.
Along the same line as outsourcing, take advantage of all the opportunities you have to automate. Automate your savings and schedule bill payments. Sign up for Amazon Prime (how did we live without it?) so you avoid after-dinner runs to Target. Invest in an Echo and keep it in your kitchen so you can quickly add items to your grocery list or shopping carts. By automating and outsourcing you can eliminate a significant portion of the additional workload that comes with running a household
6. Schedule Everything
My best, most productive days are the ones that I map out hour by hour. Otherwise, the day starts to get away from me. This doesn’t mean I schedule every hour; rather, I have an idea of how much time I’m dedicating to every task and give it the time it needs.
Every Sunday night, I sit with my phone and write out my week in my planner. I map everything including meals, who needs to be where, workouts, appointments, errands, date night and uninterrupted time with the kids. EVERYTHING. When I write it down with pen on paper, I own it and it always gets done. What’s great about seeing your day in writing is it gives you an opportunity to re-prioritize and eliminate time wasters that may sneak in.
Just because this is hard doesn’t mean we can’t do it well. With the right mindset, systems and sense of humor; it can not only be doable, but enjoyable.
For more tips for working moms check out 6 Important Lessons I Learned as a Working Mom.