We know that juggling motherhood and a career can be an exhausting task. As if the demands of motherhood itself weren’t enough, now you have to manage a job, too. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, you can get through it.
But just how do you go about it? How do you make sure that your job doesn't take away your joy as a parent? Here are some useful tips on overcoming the inevitable challenges of balancing motherhood and work.
Finding Affordable and Reliable Childcare
If you're a working mom, one of your main priorities is to make sure that your children are taken care of and in good hands. The first challenge you'll likely face is the cost and availability of quality childcare.
You may want to consider exploring various options, such as daycare centers, babysitters or nannies, sharing arrangements (e.g., with another family who lives in your neighborhood), or grandparents or other family members.
You may also qualify for assistance programs like the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) in the United States which provides financial assistance for childcare expenses to eligible parents who work or attend school full time. This type of program can help relieve some of the financial burden associated with finding quality childcare.
Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements allow you to be more present with your family and less available at work, which helps reduce the stress of trying to juggle both at once. In addition, it can also help improve productivity, communication, employee morale and other areas beneficial for both employers and employees.
If you need to request certain flexibility from your employer, make sure that you give them plenty of notice and explain why it is necessary. It’s important to show them respect and stay open-minded while they consider the arrangement—you may need to compromise in order to reach an agreement that works for both of you. Doing this will help ensure that both parties benefit from the arrangement, making it easier for working mothers like yourself to manage their job and duties as a parent.
Combatting Feelings of Guilt or Separation Anxiety
It's natural to feel some guilt when you have to leave your kids while you go to work—after all, you're a mom and your top priority is taking care of them. And if your kids are young, they'll experience separation anxiety when you leave. Here are some ways that will help make the transition easier:
- Connect with your kids before you leave: Making sure that your child has quality time with you before you actually go to work is key for reducing separation anxiety. As simple as lying beside them at night and wrapping them up in their favorite blankie helps create stronger connections between the two of you and give them something pleasant to focus on while you're away at work.
- Be open and honest with your kids: Let them know why it's important that they need to stay with their caregiver while you have to work and assure them that it won't be forever. Explain that saying goodbye isn't always fun, but by doing this your family can benefit from it in the long run.
- Have backup options ready: Make sure there are people in place who can take care of your children if something unexpected happens or if someone gets sick.
Prioritizing Self-Care During This Chaotic Time
Self-care is key to survival. Achieving a healthy work-life balance while taking care of your family may be difficult, but it is not impossible.
- Set aside time for yourself: Doing something that you enjoy—like reading a book or meditating—can help you relax and reset your mind. This small break from the daily hustle and bustle will give you the energy to tackle whatever comes your way.
- Get enough sleep: It may seem impossible to find enough time to get eight hours of sleep, but it's essential for your mental health and physical wellbeing.
- Eat healthy: While it may be tempting to order take out after a long day at work or when trying to juggle parenting duties, eating healthy meals regularly is important for your energy levels and overall health.
- Connect with friends & family: Make sure to schedule regular meet ups with close friends or family members so that you don't feel isolated or overwhelmed by the demands of being both a mother and an employee.
Seeking Out Mentorship and Support From Other Moms
Having a mentor—especially someone who is further along on the path like your mom, sister, friend, or other moms in your community—can provide valuable insight on how to break through the challenges of being a working mom. Learning from someone else's experience is incredibly helpful when it comes to understanding expectations, setting goals, staying organized and managing stress levels. Their advice can also help make tough decisions easier while keeping your head above water when it feels like everything is crashing down around you.
Going back to work after having a baby is a big transition, and it can be downright overwhelming. Take the time you need to assess your needs and wants, then get creative with solutions and put a plan in place that works for you and your family. It may take some trial and error, but with a little self-care and a positive attitude, you can find balance between motherhood and work.