Working moms are constantly thinking about work-life balance. What can we do to make sure that we find balance between our careers and being present for our kids and partner? And more importantly, what can we do to make that mommy guilt about being a working mom go away?
I have been a working mom for the past six and a half years and there are some things that I have learned to help me find my balance.
1. Think High Level
When it comes to work-life balance we cannot think in terms of details. What I mean is that work-life balance is not something that you can have every single day. Think about it. Your workload probably fluctuates. There might be weeks (or even months) where you are very busy. This will be the time when you might need to spend more time at work. And it’s probably not the time when you can go on vacation with your family. So during those times, your balance will shift a little towards your career.
What is important to remember, is that these circumstances will change. And at that time your balance will shift back towards the middle. And there will be times when your balance will shift towards family. Maybe it is during the times when your childs is participating in sports, or maybe it is during summer time, when you go on longer vacation.
Examples from Other Women
I watched an interview on Fit and Funky on YouTube with Autumn Calabrese where she talked about Work Life Balance as a Working Mom and it really resonated with me. She talks about her views on work-life balance and how it is something that is constantly changing, depending on what is currently happening with her career. It’s a really good interview to watch!
And I also recommend two books written by very successful and inspiring women who talk about careers, work-life balance, and mommy guilt. These are Lean In Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.
2. Know What is Important for YOU
Work-life balance is an individual thing! Your ideal work-life balance will not look the same as your friend’s or a random person on the internet. So don’t try to chase after what someone else has defined! Because you will most likely not be happy with the result.
The best approach to determine how you should balance your life is by setting your priorities. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down what are the most important things for your family life and career. What areas in each category do you want to prioritize in the next few months or a year?
Let’s start with your home life. Think about your family and your household and write down the priorities you have for your home.
Ask yourself some questions to help you figure out and narrow down your priorities. Is it important to you that you are active in PTO activities at your child’s school? Is it important to for you to eat dinner as a family every night? Or maybe it’s important for you to spend mornings as a family so you can see your kids before they go to school? Is it important that you attend every practice for you daughter’s soccer team, or are you fine with just attending the games? Or maybe it’s important that you read to your son every night before he goes to sleep?
And from a career perspective, think about specific projects or areas where you want to grow as a professional. Do you have specific times of the year where you are extremely busy? Do you want work on a certification this year, that will help move your career forward? Or maybe you want to lead a large-scale project that will require you to travel a few times a year?
Again write down the priorities that you have for your career in the upcoming months.
3. Make a Plan
Now that you have made the determination on what your priorities will be for a given month, quarter, or year you will be able to prioritize your time. And you will be able to get some clarity as to what will work with your schedule. This is critical when trying to find a work-life balance that works for you.
So take a look at the list of your priorities and see if any of them clash in a given time period. For example, maybe you will need to work on your certification in fall because during spring time your son will be getting ready for his piano recital and you want to provide support during that time. This will help you plan ahead and avoid disappointment along the way.
4. Quality over Quantity
When we think about work-life balance we absolutely have to remember the rule that quality is way more important than quantity. This is not a new concept, but working moms are notorious for feeling guilty about being away from their kids. This is especially true during those busy times at work, when we have to dedicate more time and attention to our career.
So instead of worrying about the limited time that you have, focus on being present when you are with your family. Your kids will remember those great times when you played, talked, and spend time together. They will not remember that you worked long hours for the entire month of May. They will remember that summers filled with trips to the swimming pools. But they will not remember that in September you had to travel for two weekends in a row.
Be intentional with the time that you have with your family – especially during those busy times. Play with your little ones or plan a fun activity with the older kids. It really is not important what you do. What is important is that you give them your full attention.
5. Find Support from Other Women
I think it is safe to say that all working moms have felt mommy guilt over being a working mom. Guilt that you are missing some important milestones of your infant or some important events of your older kids.
And nobody will understand you feelings of guild as another mom in a similar situation. So find someone to talk to. Or join a Facebook Group where you will find support of other working moms. There are also plenty of YouTube videos from moms offering words of encouragement. Having a group of women to support you will help you get through some tougher times during your work-life balance journey.