In today’s society it seems (at least to me) that the “travel to an outside site for pay” work mom is now outnumbering the “stay at home take care of the kids, house, yard, bills, all for free” work mom. If you are an outside site working mom like myself you might find yourself feeling any number of the following:
Tired all the time from working and then taking care of the household needs. Stressed that no matter how hard you try you never seem to get everything done on your list. Overworked and underpaid for the hours sacrificed away from your family. Guilty that you miss out on so many of your child’s firsts, or that someone else spends more time raising your children than you do. Frustrated you’re so tired after a long day and there just doesn’t seem enough time in the day to get everything done and spend real quality time with the family. Unorganized, can’t seem to remember that today was music lessons and tomorrow was sports practice. You know you put your keys in the same spot but you can’t find them. Keeping track of all the school activities, birthday parties, PTA meetings, dentist appointments etc.
Yet at the same time you may have feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction that you are really good at your job, relief that your working helps reduce the financial stress on your family.
So how as a working mom do we balance our stay at home wants with our need to work must? It’s not an easy task by any means and there are endless tips that work well for many and not at all for others. I have put together a list of four simple tips you might find helpful to you in your quest to balance work, the home, and take the stress levels down a couple notches.
1. ASK for help.
This may seem so silly and simple but think hard, how often do you really stop and ask for help? There was a time not to long ago when I would never ask for help, I would rather do everything myself knowing that the job had been done right (my way) then let someone else pitch in. All this did for me was leave me tired all the time, frustrated and resentful by the end of the week that I had done it all and nobody thought to ask me if I wanted or needed help! DO NOT WAIT TO BE ASKED…do the asking yourself. If you and your husband both work yet you find yourself doing all the household “mom” jobs then stop it now! Take a few minutes one Saturday afternoon and let your husband know that you really would appreciate a little help around the house. Let him pick what he would prefer to do. Letting him pick his own chore list can give him satisfaction to know he has done something that helps you out and maybe just maybe he will have a new-found respect for all the other jobs you do on top of the job(s) he has taken over. Get your kids up off the x-box and doing things. The dishes may not be in the dishwasher the way you would do it, the carpet may still have dog hair in the corners but at least you have one less job to stress about during the work week. If all else fails and husband is too busy and kids are just lazy and won’t help mom out….price out cleaning services or find a neighbor, college kid or a mom from your kids class at school that is looking for a part-time job to make a little extra money. For as little as $50-$100 every other week you could have someone come and help you knock out the house or do it all for you.
2. PLAN ahead
If you are a “cook dinner every night” mom like myself then the simple act of planning your weeks meals ahead of time saves you time and money. My schedule is crazy and never the same, yet I know that the there are specific days in the month I’m at work 12-14 hours or all my appointments will be between 1:00-7:00 PM. For this reason planing the weeks meals on Saturday and then basing my grocery list around that is a life saver. Finding quick 30 minute or less meals and crock-pot meals are as easy as a Google search. There are millions of food planning websites available for you to scan on your lunch break. Some of my favorites are delish.com, foodnetwork.com and crock-pot.com. If you take 30 minutes to scan through these websites you will find healthy delicious meals that even picky eaters will love!
Planning ahead can also include asking for help with kids activities. If you have trouble getting off work in time to get little Joey to football practice on time then ASK another mom if she can pick up for practice and you can drop off after practice. It doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst you could be told is no. You may have to call a family member or neighbor to see if they can pitch in and help out.
Say it with me…NO…NO not this time…NO I just don’t have the time…. and just for good measure NO! Saying no is okay. Saying no can save your sanity. NEVER feel guilty that you cannot be that one last parent volunteer for a field trip, the carpool parent, the pack leader for scouts or the PTA room leader. It’s okay to feel disappointed because you really wanted to help out, but never feel guilty that you couldn’t spare the time. I let my kids teachers know that I have a very difficult schedule for work and cannot 100% commit to signing on as a main volunteer, however, when something comes up I am more than happy to be the last-minute fill in if my schedule allows it, or I will send the supplies or snacks for the event.
Less than two years ago I found it very difficult to say no when asked to do things. I found that I felt guilty if I said no, as though it made me less of a mom, friend, neighbor, sister, daughter or Christian if I told someone I just couldn’t help out. The truth of the matter was when I said yes to everyone and everything I was becoming the exact thing I was trying to avoid…an overly stressed out, cranky not so nice mom or wife. When I finally stood up and said enough is enough and learned it was okay to say no things started to change. Of course I say no a lot due to my job and the odd hours that I have but now I don’t feel bad when I say it. When I do say yes it usually is with a disclaimer “yes I would love to help out, but my job has ever-changing hours so I may or may not be the best candidate for this.” with everyone clear on the availability I have they can change their need of my help or choose to ask someone else.
4. TAKE TIME OUTS
Yes that is correct, take a mommy time out. Taking time for yourself is so important to a healthy life. Stop and ask yourself “what do I do for me?”. If your like I was about 6 months ago you can’t really come up with anything you actively do for yourself. I strongly urge you to find something for you. It could be gardening, taking a photography class, going for coffee every Saturday morning with a friend, having dinner once a month with a friend, taking up a new hobby like scrap booking, working out a few times a week or walking every morning or evening.
The changes are quite astounding when you force me time. I will admit it was hard at first and feelings of guilt kept trying to bully their way in. BUT what started to happen when I took time for me was stress melted away and the way I dealt with stress changed. I was happier, more level-headed, and that translated to being a better mom and wife.
I am a Christian so I make it a point to take time each day to talk to Jesus. This helps me center myself for the day. I leave him in charge and have faith that what happens today was from him and was part of my day for one reason or another. It’s as simple as saying “what is your will for me today, grant me the peace and faith to accept that will, forgive me for not accepting your will yesterday and getting in the way with my own wanting and sin”.
If you are not a Christian then I encourage you to take a small part of each day to sit quietly, clear your mind and breath. Let the stress go out and the peacefulness in.
These little tips have helped me a great deal in balancing the work mom home mom ratio. I make no promises that they will do the same for you as they did me, but it doesn’t hurt to try them out, tweak them a little for yourself and see what a difference they could make in lowering your stress and possibly creating a more balanced and happy life for you and the family.