Advancing Women Featured Article: Juggling Family and Career as a Working Mom of Young Kids
I wrote an article titled “Juggling Family and Career as a Working Mom of Young Kids” that was featured on Advancing Women.
You can read the full article here. You can also view below:
Juggling Family and Career as a Working Mom of Young Kids
By Apryl Schlueter
Hello, Superwoman. Yes, I’m talking to you! The one who is doing it all: juggling family, work, health, relationships – it’s not an easy feat, but it all has to get done, right?
People don’t realize how hard it is to play this role. We have to find the strength to get ourselves up in the morning to shower, maybe get a morning workout in, if we’re lucky. Then we have to get the kids awake and ready, make sure they’re dressed, have eaten breakfast, brushed their teeth, then off to school or day care. Then we start our work day, juggling various meetings, endless emails, and as we diligently work to clear off our plates, we’re given another heaping spoonful (or maybe two, or three) of work. Oh! It’s lunchtime? But I barely got anything done this morning! Let’s quickly run to get a quick bite and bring it back to our desk so we can keep working. A couple hours later, we’re still halfway through finishing our now cold meal, but we have a few more hours to go, so let’s keep pushing through! Emails, and more emails. Meetings, and more meetings. 5pm arrives. Wait, we need to finish up one last thing… …. another 45 minutes passes, and we realize we really need to leave before our childcare closes for the day. We hurry home, probably starving at this point, and pick up the kids, who are surely ecstatic to see us, but we have dinner on our minds.
If we are lucky, we have a quick dinner ready to prepare at home, or we just head straight somewhere to eat out and satiate our hunger. After dinner, it’s time to prep the kids for bed, perhaps a bath, getting them into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, reading them a couple books, and hoping they fall asleep as soon as possible so that we can have that small window of quiet. And in that quiet, we might try to wind down before we fall asleep with a quick television show, or close up any odds and ends from work in preparation for doing it ALL. AGAIN. TOMORROW.
Sound familiar? This was (and occasionally still is) my life as a working mom. Do you catch yourself feeling like a wind-up clock during your work week? Do feel drained by Thursday and hoping and praying for Friday evening at 8pm so you can crash? Do you feel yourself always thinking about the next thing and never being in the present? Do you feel like you’re on autopilot more often than not with your kids and wish you could have more quality time with them, as before you know it, they’ll be grown up and leaving the nest? Do you want to feel more at ease, less stress, and have more fun juggling this work-family thing?
As a working mom who worked herself to burnout, I’ve been on a mission to help people have more fun, while getting stuff done. It took some serious health issues to arise in order for me to finally turn my life around, so I’m hoping that you can learn from my mistakes and turn that steering wheel a little sooner than I did. As a result, here are some quick things to keep in mind so you can start having more fun while being a working mom right now!
Curb the guilt
I know this is easier said than done, because it’s so easy to blame yourself for every mistake you make, the things you forget to do, the feeling of not being present and running on a hamster wheel, the workouts you should be doing, the healthier food you should be eating, the friends and family members you need to call. But, you have a lot on your plate. You’re raising the next generation, and still furthering your career. It’s absolutely understandable that life can get hectic, and you may occasionally make mistakes. You might drop the ball, but that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing awesome.
Set better boundaries
Boundaries are the probably one of the big struggles of working moms, especially when life, family, and work can collide unexpectedly. Recognizing that you can’t always be rigid with your boundaries, you can always try to set general rules for yourself from week to week. For example, making a goal to not check email after 8pm. Or, not bringing any work home with you. Or, allowing yourself that hard stop at 5pm from work so you can have a less hectic evening and more connection time with your family. Or, giving yourself a set time to turn the lights off for bed. Think about different “rules” you can set for yourself, and allow yourself to change them each week, based on what is on your schedule.
Ask for help
Even though you are superwoman, you can’t do it all – unless you want to burn yourself out in the process. Asking for help will take the load off of your plate. For example, I ask my husband for help all the time. Even though he has a busy job, we have agreed to team up together and stay in constant communication on how we can support each other. When things are busier for him, I know to give a little more, and when I have work commitments, he does the same for me. I also lean on family, friends, and other colleagues whenever needed. There are also various services that are offered as another way to ask for help. Don’t want to do the deep cleaning? Hire a cleaning service. Is your day so jam-packed that you can’t make it to the grocery store (or do you just hate shopping for groceries)? Consider a grocery delivery service. Take advantage of any free or paid help as much as you can. You’ll get a lot more done, and be so much happier.
This was something I learned way too late in life, primarily because I couldn’t practice steps 1, 2, and 3 above. I took on way too much and focused on serving others, and never thought about giving even a little bit of that care to myself. Working moms need a break every once in a while, and if that means asking your husband to let you sleep in a couple extra hours on Saturday morning, spending a couple hours at the mall buying a cute outfit to wear for an upcoming vacation, going with a girlfriend to get a manicure or massage, or even taking your own long weekend away, do it. Consider yourself a rechargeable battery; you won’t be able to work well if you don’t take the time to regain your energy.
Again, these tips are easier said than done, and they take constant practice, awareness, and reflection. But your happiness is on the line! And you deserve to be happy. You can do this! I have faith in you.
About Apryl Schlueter
Apryl Schlueter is the Chief Energy! Officer of The Cheerful Mind, Inc., a happiness and productivity expert who helps people have more fun while getting stuff done! She is a Certified Professional Coach, speaker, and author of “Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind.”