How to create boundaries to enjoy motherhood, while having a career.
I have been through some major struggles before figuring this whole working-mom thing out. So I say all of this with true compassion and love! For almost two years I struggled with the overwhelm and anxiousness around the work-life balance. It wasn’t until recently that I really found what worked. Even so, there are still tough moments, but rarely are there tough days! I think its important to point that out and be aware that tough moments do not equal a tough day. Everything is temporary.
A little background about my career, for perspective.
I write this from a teachers viewpoint. I’ve been in education for ten years and its taken eight years to get to the point I am at right now. My hours are 7:15am-3:15pm. I get a 55 minute prep each day where I do not have students. Outlining this is important to help you understand what my day looks like and how I’ve implemented the following steps. I know every career looks different and even if you can learn one thing that helps you, then you are going to be better off than you were before.
So here are the things I have learned and implemented to help achieve a better work-life balance.
1. Work HARD, while at work
I know you work hard. Keep doing that. In addition, eliminate the distractions while at work. I was guilty of playing on my phone when I had a few minutes, or socializing with coworkers. Now, when I have even a few minutes, I try to cross something off my list.
When I had my first son, I had to use my prep hour and lunch to pump. During that time I actually became more productive. I stayed in my classroom, locked the door, put the curtain over my window and got things done while being attached to a breastpump.
For one week, try putting your phone on airplane mode while working. And check out my post on how I became more productive with one little trick!
2. Shut off!
Leave work, physical and mentally.
What is worth your time? We all have 24 hours in a day and every one is valuable. Where do you want to spend them?
I’m not knocking working long hours if that is going to make you happy and helps you meet yours and your families goals. If you are an hourly employee you might find the financial impact of working overtime to be very valuable for your family. If you are salaried, you are only being paid for so many hours and working overtime isn’t giving you the added finances to help you reach your goals. This is me.
As a teacher, I am paid for eight hours per day. I have set a strong boundary of leaving after those eight hours because the fact of the matter is that I’m not being paid past 3:15pm.
3. Let Go & Be Flexible
This one is more of a tip for once you are at home. When you work a 9-5, we can easily get in the habit of being rigid with our time and living by a schedule. Now, I thrive on a schedule and so do most kids. However, there came a time when my schedule was causing more stress than it was being helpful.
I had to learn to let go of some expectations in order to be more present with my boys. My brain runs on time and I truly value every minute we have throughout the day. I always felt like dinner needed to be around 5-5:15 which meant I needed to start dinner around 4:30, which meant I had to be home by a certain time, which meant we couldn’t go outside for very long, which meant blah, blah, blah. I was becoming rigid. I’m guessing most of you can relate.
Now, I look at what needs to happen once I get home from work. And truly, it is two things. I need to feed my family and put them to bed. Really, that’s it. Nothing else needs to happen. Sometimes we like to add in bath time but it is not needed every night.
There is a book called The Whole Brain Child that talks about how we need to find the balance between rigidity and chaos. The author says its like floating down a river, we don’t want to get too close to either bank (chaos or rigidity). When we find that balance we as mothers, and our children, perform best. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book. It gives incredible tips for helping to navigate the emotions of a child.
Again, I say all of this with love and compassion for all hard-working mothers. I hope this helps you find some balance so that you can truly enjoy being a working mom.