If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to balance a career, a family, and your household, check out Mighty Mommy’s 12 practical tips to help you tackle your busy life and cut down the stress.
As if mothers today didn’t have enough on their plates raising children and running households, a large majority are also pursuing careers or are in the workforce due to financial need, some even working more than one job. During these uncertain economical times, women are struggling to balance it all, usually at the cost of their own emotional and physical health.
That’s why Mighty Mommy is excited to bring you 12 practical tips for juggling your health, family, home, as well as your career. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Erin Flynn Jay, the author of a fantastic new book called Mastering the Mommy Track. Erin shared some effective tips to help overwhelmed moms everywhere take control of their lives.
Erin felt a strong need to write this book because too many working mothers today face great tension between their families, their careers, and financial needs. As the mother of two young daughters and the president of her own publicity firm, Flynn Media, Erin can personally relate to what many women are facing. As she explains,
“The downward mobility of the American middle class continues. Most of the new jobs being created are in the lower-wage sectors of the economy. Millions of Americans who remain working agreed to cuts in wages and benefits. Others are settling for jobs that pay less than the jobs they’ve lost. Other people are falling out of the middle class, and many have also lost their homes.
So many women are in a panic mode, afraid of losing their job or struggling to find work and concerned about their family’s financial situation. Career moms should realize that the economic downturn is nationwide; millions of others are experiencing the same hardships. The events happening today will turn around in the future. Their spouse will get a job in his field again—it just may take more time. Self-employed women will land new clients if they keep up the prospecting efforts.”
So today, in Part 1 of this series on finding work-life harmony, I’ll focus on balancing your health and your home:
Tip #1: Take a Breather
When life gives you more than you can handle, don’t underestimate the benefits of stopping whatever you’re involved with and taking deep breaths. Deep breathing gets more oxygen into the lungs and can help calm the brain. Try these steps:
Sit or lie back with one hand on your belly.
Breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs all the way. Focus on making the hand on your belly go toward your spine.
Breathe out through your mouth, trying to empty your lungs as much as you can. The hand on your belly should move out as your muscles tighten.
Continue these deep, slow breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth, making your belly rise and fall.
Tip #2: Keeping Your Cool at Home
Based on Erin’s interviews with psychologists, here are some tips to help moms keep their cool at home:
Slow down after work. Spend some time with your children, even if it is just 20 minutes before you get dinner prepared and cooked. Appreciate the small moments you have.
Set the proper example. Children look up to parents and follow their roles. Yelling at your kids over spilling snacks or drawing on the wall won’t build a harmonious atmosphere.
Give yourself some credit. Commend yourself for getting through each hectic day. No one is perfect. You won’t get every project finished on time. Do your best each day and realize the rest will have to wait until tomorrow.
Tip #3: Ask Yourself What You Can Do Differently
Erin highly recommends asking yourself objectively: “What can I do differently to get more quality sleep time and relaxation?” Can you eliminate the afternoon coffee? Can you break away at lunch to exercise at the gym? Can you fit in time to read fun novels at night rather than catching up on paperwork?
She adds that it’s important to know your own body, which will tell you if you’re not getting enough daily sleep or relaxation. You want to avoid getting to a point where you feel completely burned out – this may lead to a long-term physical condition that may permanently affect your life. Bottom line – get enough sleep yourself so you can care for your precious loved ones!
Tip #4: Get Organized
Having an organized home and a concrete schedule are a working mother’s best friends. Your goal is not to make everything perfect, but to help control the chaos and learn to go with the flow when all else fails. Think in terms of setting routines that will streamline your family activities:
The Night Before: Preparing clothes, backpacks, lunches, and anything else you will need to have ready for the morning including having a simple breakfast ready to go.
In the Morning: Get up earlier—you'll be surprised what a difference in composure an hour makes. You have more time to get yourself ready and to spend with your family.
In the Evening: Get comfortable—as soon as you get home, change into something comfortable. This can become a symbolic signal that it's time to stop thinking about work and to begin a family life.
Have a dinner planned in advance—Plan your weekday evening meals so that they are simple and fast to make.
Concentrate on your child—Plan a relaxing ritual or some activities that are done only at this reconnecting time. Be generous with hugs and kisses. Talk about the evening ahead. In other words, make homecoming a positive experience
Save time for yourself—If you neglect yourself, you won't have the stamina for all the things you want to do. So designate time for whatever makes you feel good, whether it’s a hot bath, a good book, a massage, a run, or anything else that gives you pleasure and peace.
In addition to implementing solid routines, spend time organizing and decluttering your home. When you have a place for everything, you won’t waste endless hours looking for missing items. You’ll think more clearly and feel calmer when your surroundings are clean and in order. Check out my colleague Domestic CEO’s 2-part series on organizing paper clutter for more easy tips.
Tip #5: Stay Connected to Your Partner
Another topic that Erin tackles in Mastering the Mommy Track is the difficulties women have in maintaining their relationships with their spouses. It’s crucial to remember that couple commitment should be distinct from family relationships. Date night is important no matter the age of your children.
If finances and babysitting are a concern, then think outside the box. Swap babysitting time with neighbors or family members, or plan a cozy dinner for just the two of you after the kids go to bed. Use discount sites like Groupon to find special deals on nice restaurants that might otherwise be tough to afford. Share some wine together as you soak in a relaxing bubble bath. Even if you can’t get out on a regular basis, take the time to talk or snuggle several times throughout the week but leave topics like kids, chores, and money issues behind.
Tip #6: Value Your Friendships
Christine Carr, author of Mother Daze: Tales from the Imperfect Playground, is mom to 3 kids and a full-time teacher. Her refreshingly witty and fun book about motherhood is a high-five to women everywhere who are trying hard to do it all. One piece of advice Christine gave me is about the power of female friendship. She says:
“It’s obviously more difficult in our busy lives as parents to keep our friendships active. But no matter how busy I get, if the friendship is valued, I at least make an effort. I set a date on my calendar and follow through. The rewards in the end are worth it!”
Stay tuned next week for 6 more tips on how to balance work and life without losing your mind.
What strategy do you rely on to balance motherhood and life? Let me know in Comments or post them on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back next week for 6 more tips on managing your kids and your career.
And don’t forget to check out my fun, family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
Until next time—Happy Parenting!