What comes to mind when you think about work-life balance?
Impossible. Unobtainable. Ridiculous.
Yeah, I think the same thing.
Who has time for that? Not this working mom.
Right now I just want to survive the workweek as a mom.
I find myself always scraping through the workweek. It’s like climbing up a mountain, and the only tools I have are my un-manicured nails
Then when the next week comes around, I find myself trying to catch up and still dealing with things that should have been done the previous week.
In fact, most of us moms have time for the absolute minimum type of self-care.
It is time to change.
Now is the time to start surviving in style and conscientiously. Can we get work-life balance?
Maybe someday, but today I am focusing on surviving as a working mom as best as I can. Let’s do it together.
Here are a few things you can do to make the change in your life – from barely scraping by to surviving the workweek as a mom.
- What comes to mind when you think about work-life balance?
- #1 Be the little red hen and work when everyone else plays
- #2 Cut it out
- #3 Be annoying
- #4 Lock up the ultimate time sucker
- #5 Strategize to finally get “me time”
- #6 New buzz phrase: Toxic Self-Blame
- #7 Give yourself a break
- #8 Have a work night/school night evening routine
- #9 Just stop it!
- Final thoughts
#1 Be the little red hen and work when everyone else plays
If there is time during the week where you can be lazy and just lounge around – make it Saturday and half of Sunday. Or make it whatever day of the week you have off.
However, on Sunday evening (or the day before your weeks starts) try your best to prep for the week. I know it sucks, but just be that little red hen from the fable who prepares and then reaps the benefits.
Here are a few super easy things you can do:
- Find five outfits to wear for the workweek and place them together, so you do not have to think about what you are going to wear every morning
- Come up with five dinner ideas based on groceries you already have (or write your list of things you need)
- Also, come up with breakfast and lunch ideas as well – prep for those too
- Come up with five chores that will be simple to do each weeknight, assign specific chores to your husband, kids or whoever you live with (that way you all rotate chores and not everyone cleans every day) – anything that needs significant attention clean it before the workweek starts
- Gas up your vehicle or gather anything you need for your ride to work and extra stuff you take to work – metro passes, walking shoes, tennis for after work, breast pumping equipment, etc.,
- Pack up everything you need for the workweek, such as laptops, work files, phones, supplies, work badges, keys, etc. You know, those little things you can forget when you are rushing out the door in the morning?
You do not have to do everything on the list, just try a few and see what works for you. Even preparing a little bit can help a lot over the week.
If you start off small, you can add tasks and make it a habit to prepare on Sundays.
#2 Cut it out
As a parent, there comes a time when you have to cut things out of your life.
Figure out what you need to cut from your life that will increase your productivity and give your family and work more focus:
Reduce the amount of television you watch. If you find yourself in the Netflix binge trap, quickly get out. It is fun binging on a show every once in a while but if it is constant, its time for a change.
Your online behavior may need some tweaking. If you find yourself spending too much time browsing, cut that time and if you do spend time online use it wisely, on sites that will help you out, educate you, or bring positivity into your life.
Unnecessary trips to the store because you forgot something. I think my husband spends about 30% of his time making trips to the store because he always forgets something. It is unproductive, but we are working on it! We are starting to write lists.
Coworkers or people in general that drain the life from you take away your focus or distract you. If you have a certain someone in your life that brings in negativity or is unhealthy for you, cut them out. Slowly start to reduce the time you spend with them and maybe cut them out over time. You have the right to choose whom you spend your time with.
Do the same thing with your workload – if there is something redundant that is eating away at your time, stop doing it. Talk to your supervisor or boss about ways that you can increase efficiencies. Getting some of those mundane, time-consuming tasks off of your to-do list can lighten your workload.
Bottom line, if there is anything that is going to take away from someone or something you love or want to accomplish – cut it out. At both home and work.
#3 Be annoying
Annoy yourself and ask, “do I have to.” Go ahead and say it in an annoying voice if you want.
While that saying sounds whiny, incorporate it into your workweek. Sometimes we live on autopilot and do not think about what we do. Sometimes we do things that are easy first and the hard stuff later –when it should be the other way around.
Let the question help prioritize and eliminate some of the things you do.
Take a look at your tasks and priorities and ask just that, “do I have to?” and “do I have to do it now?” categorize your tasks and answers accordingly.
If the answer is no, then do not do it.
Prioritize the things you said yes to, start with the things you need to do now. A few days into the workweek re-ask the questions and repeat.
Now, this is not the know-all end-all of prioritizing, but it can get you thinking. This is like the cliff notes of prioritization, it’s a good easy start.
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#4 Lock up the ultimate time sucker
Yes, I am talking about your smartphone. Lock it up when you are at home and work. If you do not need your phone put it away. Even if you only put your phone away a few minutes at a time you are still benefiting from it.
But try to do it for longer than a few minutes – maybe about half an hour to an hour at a time. For sure put it away on your drive to and from work.
According to a Wixx.com article, “Americans check their phones an average of 80 times a day while on vacation, with some checking their screen more than 300 times each day.”
Do you think you have this bad habit? If so, try to stop it.
Think about it, if you spend at least a minute on your phone every time you check it, that can quickly add up to 80 minutes a day. Or think about the times you spend browsing if you have two sessions of browsing for about half an hour each time that is an hour.
Your time is reason enough to attempt to limit your screen time. Think about all the things you can accomplish in an hour.
We always say we do not have time, but we sure do have time to waste staring at little screens.
While at work if you keep your phone nearby just in case of an emergency, make sure whoever watches your kids
What you can also do is set a specific time when you FaceTime or send messages to your caretaker or kids. Or at least get a status on how they are doing. At about 11 am, I message my husband to see how he and my daughter are fairing at home.
He also sends me photos so I can see what they are doing.
It is a great break from work, and I feel better knowing all is well at home.
Try to limit your phone time while you are home.
If your kids and husband have phones as well, hide them together.
Hide all your screens/electronics
- iPads and tablets
- Laptops and computers
- Televisions (turn them off)
- Handheld games
If you have sneaky kids, put them in a different place each day.
It will be good for all of you as you try to spend some quality time together.
Stop yourself from getting tempted by designating a time to be screen free. Do it daily or every other day. Maybe for an hour.
Here are some ideas of alternative activities:
- Get out the board games
- Go outside
- Read books
- Chat about your day
- Make food
- Do chores
- Teach your kids something
- Play with your pets
- Make music together
- Play a game
If it is hard at first, do anything to distract yourself and your family. As you progress in unplugging, it will get easier. Even when you all get your screens back, try to continue limiting your time on them.
#5 Strategize to finally get “me time”
Yup, I am sure you have read over and over to give yourself “me time.” So we all already know how important it is…
But to actually get it is the hard part.
My husband and I work on getting “me time” each week. We do so by swapping out taking care of our daughter.
On Tuesday evenings my husband watches our daughter while I have some alone time – then on Thursdays, I watch our daughter while he has alone time.
It can be a good hour or longer if requested (or shorter if my daughter gets impatient). I will write during my “me time,” take a bath, read or just unwind watching a show. Sometimes I will even take a nap.
My husband watches his iPad, works on his side jobs or whatever else he does.
On the weekends, if one of us makes plans, we just let each other know in advance so the other could watch her.
Try to find someone who can help you get “me time.” Make it a priority for the week – even if it is just a few minutes.
I know how hard it can be – I am five minutes into my “me time” and my daughter just snuck into the room!
You can do the same at work. I know it sounds odd trying to get “me time” while working – but sitting at your desk for eight or nine hours straight is extremely unhealthy. I know I can go through the whole day doing just that!
So get “me time” at work by going for a walk by yourself (or with a pal).
Move away from your desk to eat lunch. Or go out to each lunch, even if it is just outside of your office. If it is not something, you do too often, once in a while make lunch plans.
If you work with a team or are always around people (like me) all day at work take a break from the stream of people. Step out of the office and go somewhere quiet – even if it is the restroom or an office that nobody uses (if such
If you have been hard working all day and just need a break from actual work – unlock the phone and listen to a song you enjoy or watch something funny.
All these things can help you recalibrate and get back to work.
#6 New buzz phrase: Toxic Self-Blame
So I read a new buzz phrase about working moms recently. It is called toxic self-blame. Basically, it is blaming yourself over something you really can’t help.
The CNBC articleI read over the weekend mentioned, “whether you’re convinced the fish you ate during pregnancy must be the reason your child is hyperactive or you blame yourself for your child’s less than stellar performance in math, toxic self-blame leads to burnout.”
Do we really blame ourselves that much?
I will tell you, it struck a nerve with me and I think we do.
It is just not about our kids, it’s about everything that happens within our family and the many outcomes occurring at work.
I was having a conflict with a particular person at work once and instead of immediately looking at the larger picture (this person was having
I was trying to figure out what I did wrong.
Although I knew that person was conflict-prone, it was not until someone said, “it is not
Sometimes we need to just realize not everything wrong with the world is our fault.
I am glad that as
But does it have to be done for every situation?
Does everything have to be our fault?
No, so I am stopping this nonsense now, and I hope you can relate and do the same.
***All day I dream about babies, read on for more***
#7 Give yourself a break
While yes, you should take physical breaks during the day. I mean you need to give yourself a break mentally. Stop shaming yourself for everything or just being hard on yourself.
There are enough people out there to make life hard on you, there is no point in doing it to yourself.
Here are some more examples:
- Being perfect – nobody is perfect no matter how much someone seems like they are, it’s just not real or realistic
- Doing everything – stop making intricate dinners from scratch or over-cleaning the house, the dust will collect again, do not do everything on your own either
- Being everything for everyone – sometimes you will just not be able to do everything for your family, ask for help
- Pretending to be someone you are not – okay, so you are not
motherof the year, does that title even exist? If it did would someone really earn it? If your kids are taken care of, then you are motherof the year in my eyes. Just do not try to be that mom, be yourself, even if that means your kids stay up a little later than they should or they did not eat a single vegetable today (oops)
I know I have mentioned this before, but all the pressure we put on ourselves needs to be toned down.
For example, maybe all the laundry did not get done, but you nursed your baby for half of the night. You accomplished enough!
If you miss a deadline at work by five minutes or so, ask yourself: did the world end?
It probably did not. I would save my breath in apologizing and just try a little harder to get it right the next day.
Give yourself a break and do not beat yourself up over it. In the grand scheme of things, it is not worth it.
#8 Have a work night/school night evening routine
Have a flexible routine in the evening. Nothing set in stone by any means. Just something so you know what to expect.
Make your routine something like this: do homework, screen-free time, prepare dinner together, go for a family walk, and get ready for bed.
You can always prepare for the next day, the way you did on Sunday.
Do you have a nighttime routine for your kids?
If so, incorporate yourself into it.
I found that I was letting myself go, I only flossed on nights I had the energy, and I could not remember the last time I moisturized my legs. Then I snapped out of it, I realized I need to take care of myself as much as I do my daughter.
Each night, I do a whole mini self-care routine with my daughter:
- Brush teeth
- Brush hair
- Wash face
- Moisturize body
- Moisturize lips
- Tweeze hair
- Blow kisses at the mirror
- Anything else that needs to get done, I will do these as needed: nails, teeth whitening, face scrubs
Since my daughter is a toddler, I involve her as I do these things. She also plays in the bathroom with me. It is almost like getting an extra dose of “me time.”
#9 Just stop it!
I recently saw a hilarious comedy clip with Bob Newhart that aired on
He is a psychologist, and his client is telling him her problems, and he says all you have to do is stop it. You can watch it here:
When I stress about things that are not controllable, I do the same thing, I “stop it.”
Why obsess over things we can’t control?
Or why do we keep telling the same miserable story over and over again? You know, the one about the crummy traffic from the morning or how someone cut in front of us in line?
That does two things, it makes you relive the situation and stresses you out. Plus you might be stressing out the people you tell your story to – why bring others grief?
Maybe tell the story to your confidant just once, let it all out, and then just move on! Holding on and repeating it will only keep the negativity in your life.
The same thing goes for worrying.
I recently read a great article on 8 mental health tips that are so effective, therapists themselves swear by them. Here is what it said:
When Dr. Gallagher finds herself worrying about something, she tries to put herself on the following thought path: Can I solve this problem? And what can I do about it, if anything? “If I can’t do anything about it, I can’t worry about it,” she says. “There’s no point.”
Bottom line worrying does not do anything to make any outcome happen.
So just stop it.
Okay, one more time…
Stop it! Spread the word.
Aren’t you tired of feeling stretched thin?
Tired of spending time on things you should not be spending it on?
Do you feel like a need for change?
If you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed at work or not spending enough time with your family hopefully some of these tips will help you.
It is time to survive the workweek on your terms and with a little less stress.
Prepare for your week, cut out things in your life you do not need, and work on giving yourself a break.
By doing a few of these things, you can get your life moving in the direction you want.