It’s hard enough being a mom. It’s hard enough having a career. Combine them – and it can feel darn near impossible.
Keep in mind; this piece is not intending to belittle those who are “full-time moms” but don’t work outside the home. I KNOW being a mom is a full-time job. That’s kind of the point. Being a mom and having a career both require A LOT of energy and attention. It’s just that when you choose (or need) to do both at the same time, it can feel a particular kind of overwhelming. This article speaks directly to those moms because “doing it all” can require a slightly different approach, so you don’t lose “you” in the process.
Balancing motherhood and a full-time career can often feel like literally being pulled in two different directions.
Both priorities expect (and often need) full-time dedication. Sometimes you feel like you are on top of it – Superwoman – and it’s all a breeze. You’re killing it, right?! Other times, however, you (will, if you haven’t yet) feel like you suck at both. The roller coaster of emotions full-time working moms feel is real—and frequent.
Yet, keep in mind, you stand to benefit greatly from the attempt. As this article in the APA online journal states, “This type of balancing act, while difficult, is worth it, she says, because it means you also have two very distinct areas of your life that can bring you satisfaction.”
Additionally, “Research summarized by University of Wisconsin–Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, Ph.D., suggests that having multiple roles is beneficial for both men and women when it comes to our mental, physical and relationship health. Furthermore, successes in one role can also buffer us from the adverse effects of stress or failure in the other (American Psychologist, 2001).”
So, how can you do “full-time” + “full time” and not feel like you are just barely surviving?
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Well-thought-out planning makes nearly anything in life go smoother. Mixing work and motherhood well is no exception.
Create a schedule and make it non-negotiable. For example, set aside certain hours every night as “family time” and then make a commitment to yourself that there will be zero “cancellations” on this special time. Even if it feels like you have to do “just one more thing” for work and you can miss your family appointment “just this one time” – don’t do it. You will likely find that you don’t get behind on work at all. When we nourish our soul, we often find this fulfillment makes us more productive and focused. Meaning, you can work less and get more done.
Can you ask your employer for a flexible work schedule (flex schedule)? Many working mothers find it much easier – and get more satisfaction – when their “free” hours mesh with those of their children. Perhaps you can work 7 AM – 3 or 4 PM?
Or maybe you can work 10 hour days, 4 days a week, and get a full day off to spend with the family. Even better, is there a chance your employer would let you work 8 hours in the office M-Th and 2 hours at home, at night, after the kids have gone to bed. Either way, you still get your Fridays (or any other day you decide to ask for) off from the office. If your kids are in school, this could be a day you volunteer—giving your kids the impression that you not only work full-time but are a “full-time mommy” as well.
Another idea for flexibility in your work schedule lets you “create” time! Have a long commute? If your employer will go for flextime, especially with school age children, if you can work a few days from home, you might cut out several hours of drive time. This is like literally “getting” more hours in the day!
Adjust your expectations.
It may feel like giving up or giving in, but changing your expectations about what “full-time” means could provide much-needed relief. Are you expecting too much out of yourself in general? A lot of moms – women, really – feel like they must do everything “perfect.” Yet, this is a hardly-obtainable goal for anyone—much less moms who are trying to give 100% to their career and 100% to their children and family, with 100% effort and accuracy.
The key is remembering it’s always about quality and not so much quantity. There are only 24 hours in the day—no matter what you do or how hard you work. If you go head-down, full-scale, effort for 7 hours a day at work, you’re not shortchanging your job. This extra hour could be used to catch up with teachers, balance your checkbook, etc.—things you might normally do at night when you can be spending time with your kids.
Likewise, spend some real quality time with your kids in the evening or at night – maybe helping with homework, playing a fun game, or reading a book. If you do, your children likely won’t mind (or even notice) if you do a little catch-up work while they are snuggled in your arm, watching an episode of their favorite family-friendly TV show. Again, so long as neither your job or your family is suffering, both will likely thrive.