How to Attain the Elusive Work-Life Balance
By Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali of The Happy Working Mom
If you’re an ambitious busy working mom, I’m pretty sure you have periods in which you struggle with maintaining a good work-life balance. Some days you feel like you have it all under control, and other days you feel like you have too much on your plate and your kids will fall through the cracks.
Never fear. Work-life balance is actually possible. You just have to know exactly how to do it.
1. Figure out who you are: I know this might sound strange. But a mom who knows what she likes, what she needs and where she’s going, will know exactly what tasks to include in her life and what commitments to turn down (pretty much the definition of balance).
I know that as an introvert who needs to spend time alone in order to rejuvenate, I need to set aside about an hour a week to do something relaxing for myself. My husband understands this and gives me the space I need. But when my entire life was wrapped around my kids, I lived solely for them and I felt burned out. All my activities were tailored towards my children, I spent entirely too much time around other people, leaving no time for me. I was tired, cranky, and that didn’t serve my kids or my poor husband well. But once I knew self-care had to become priority for me, I switched my life around. I actually found a job that fit the life I wanted, I became a more patient mom and I have new found creativity.
Taking care of yourself is the foundation of a good work-life balance. I always say to my clients: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So make sure you’re taken care of first, so you can pour into your family.
Practical step: Get a pen and paper and write out who you are at your core (your values), what you enjoy doing and goals you’d like to achieve over the next 3 months. This will be your road map. If you’re struggling with finding your identity, I have a free, short self discovery guide to help you with this. Click here to download it for free.
2. Set clear boundaries for yourself: Once you’ve figured out who you are and what you need in order to thrive, it’s time to be clear on what you can say ‘yes’ to and what you need to say ‘no’ to. The easiest way to do this is to set clear leisure times and clear work times. So when you’re at home playing with the kids, turn your phone off or put it in another room. Focus on the kids for that moment. When you’re working, stay away from day dreams and Instagram. You’ll actually get more done and your brain will be less scattered.
I know most moms have been trained to multitask, but too much multitasking will lead to overwhelm, so avoid this. Learn to unplug from work when you’re supposed to be resting.
If you’re not self employed, make sure you carve out clear break periods. During your lunch break, do not think about or talk about work. Your mind needs time to relax. An overworked mind will lead to a tired body, which almost always spills into your family life.
If something is not in line with your goals and values, turn it down! At first it’ll be scary but then the people around you will begin to fit into the boundaries you have set.
3. Plan ahead: I can’t state this enough. Pack school lunches the night before. Set out your kids’ school clothes the night before. Create a family calendar so that you don’t double book yourself. When you’re at work, pay attention to deadlines and avoid procrastination. When you plan, your life becomes so much more controlled, which also leaves you time for more relaxing activities.
Also Schedule in the kids’ practices, doctor’s appointments and pretty much as much as you can so that you’ll have a clear idea of how your week will look.
But remember, don’t put too much on your plate in one day. Figure out how many activities you can comfortably accomplish in a day, and don’t do more than that. Boundary setting is golden!
4. Learn to prioritize your life: Once you make your schedule, figure out which activities are urgent, which ones are important, and which ones are unnecessary. Complete the urgent ones first. Next tackle the important ones if you have time, then cross out or delegate the unimportant tasks. Don’t complete any more than you have to. There’s no prize for ‘Most exhausted mom.
Consider delegating household chores or get someone to take over tasks you do not enjoy. This frees you up to spend more time doing things you actually love.
Once you are in the habit of doing the above, your life will become a lot more streamlined. Happy mama=Happy home.
For more tips for working moms, go to www.thehappyworkingmom.com