A LOT of moms work. In 2015, 69.9 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the labor force. (Source) While working moms may be becoming more common, that doesn’t mean it is getting easier. Mom guilt is very real. I think any working mom who tells you she isn’t struggling to maintain a work/home life balance is lying.
I always feel bad when friends or readers of this blog ask me how I make it look so easy, since it is NOT easy. I struggle daily to keep all the balls in the air. (remember the tagline for this blog? When Keeping It Together is Just an ILLUSION) However, after nearly 9 years of being a working mom, I do have some tips to help you hold onto your happy!
How To Be A Happy Working Mom
Learn Time Management Skills: This is SO SO extremely important for anyone, but especially when you are a working mom. You may be out of the house 8 hours a day, but everything still needs to get done. Food shopping, laundry, homework… I can go on and on. If you are not good at managing your time or setting and sticking to a schedule, your happiness will suffer. This post on time management is a good place to start, but if you really want to dive in I recommend you check out time management books. (I Know How She Does It is a popular one)
Be Honest with Your Boss: There is a definite difference between men and women when it comes to parenting and the workplace. My husband rarely feels guilty or gets crap from my kids for missing a school party or play. When he leaves early to pick up one of our kids if they are sick, no one says a word to him at work. However, if I miss a school event, my son usually asks me why I wasn’t there. If I have to leave work because of a family emergency, I am bound to get an eyeroll (or two).
I realized many years ago that is just how it is, so I don’t try to act otherwise. My boss knows my kids are my priority and that simple fact makes my life so much easier. I refuse to feel guilty for coming in late since I took my kids to the doctor or watched my daughter in her school play. I give everyone a non-apologetic heads up and then I am done with it. I am not looked at in the same way as my child-free counterparts and that is okay with me.
Let Go of Perfection: I will always take the easiest route possible. If I need to bring baked goods into my kids school, I usually buy it. Baking 48 cupcakes is just not how I want to spend my free time. And that is okay. Kids love store-bought crap anyway and trust me, I suck at baking so they should be thanking me. We don’t do complicated crafts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun. We do projects, but they are just simplified. More fun, less prep. I can’t always make fancy teacher gifts or head up a PTA sponsored event, but I will do SOMETHING. My sanity level is more important to me than perfection.
Be Present With Your Kids: When I spend time with my kids, I do my very best to be as present as possible. After I get home from work, I put my cell phone in a drawer and I am not allowed to look at it until after they go to bed. If my kids ask me to play with them, I really do play. (even if it is not the most fun for me, let’s be real) I listen to them. I focus on them. We eat dinner together almost every night as a family. My husband and I would both love to spend more time with our kids, so when we do, we make a conscious effort to make sure it is quality time.
Outsource What You Can: If you can afford help, get it. After years and years of telling myself I didn’t want to waste money on a cleaning lady, I finally got one about 5 months ago and what a life-changer! I can’t believe I was so stubborn about the whole thing. There are so many things you can outsource to help take the burden off of you. Online shopping is your friend. You can even have your groceries delivered! (I am totally in the process of looking into this right now!) It may be hard to pay for things that you technically can do for yourself, but you have to ask yourself how much your time is worth??
Take Time for Yourself: For the longest time, I didn’t take any time for myself. I worked so much, that when I was home I felt like I should be with the kids. I convinced myself that every free moment should be spent in mommy-mode, but that simply isn’t true. Self-care is so important. Do things that fulfill you, enjoy a girls night or a date with husband, enjoy an afternoon alone. To be a happy mom, wife and employee… you need to take the time to recharge.
I would love to tell you that by following these tips I am totally free from mom guilt, but that simply isn’t true. There are still days when I question my choices, however I can say that a majority of the time I am happy with how things are. Each day I get a little bit better at juggling, so I really hope these tips help you find a similar balance.