Handling the pressure of home and work can be daunting, but there are ways around it. Here’s how to balance life as a working mom. By Andrea Kellerman
We’re pretty sure you’re busy from the minute you wake up until you hit the pillow at night – and perhaps you might not even get the chance to sleep through the night! (Hello mom life).
But the good news is, it is possible to balance a career and a family and thrive at both. The most important thing is to just let go of the mom guilt and embrace your new normal. Avoid striving for perfection because it doesn’t exist. Refrain from comparing yourself to other mothers, especially on social media, because a small square picture is never a true reflection of what’s really going on in a person’s life, and rather just focus on each day as it comes.
We know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a working mom because the truth is, it’s hard to juggle a career, run a home and be emotionally available for your family. But moms are notorious for piling extra pressure on their plates and always feeling guilty for not measuring up. It’s a never-ending cycle of mom guilt that has to stop. Let’s rather look at what our children need and how much time you should spend with them to achieve an optimal balance.
Focus on quality over quantity
- Research reveals that most children (of varying ages) remember and value the quality of their experiences with their parents rather than the quantity. You needn’t spend hours every day with your child to make him happy. Plan each day carefully so that you have enough time for yourself, your children, family, chores, work, and sleep.
- The younger your child, the more time you’ll have to spend with him to meet his primary needs, such as feeding, dressing, cuddling, and bathing. As he grows older he’ll discover his surroundings and other people. Then he won’t need to be protected as much but will discover and learn through play.
Set a good example
- As a parent, you’re the most important role model in your child’s life. The happier you are, the happier your child will be.
- Spending quality time is more important than spending long hours with your child, particularly if you’re exhausted and thinking about work and things you have to do. Around 45 minutes per day is enough, if you’re able to switch off other disturbances and devote yourself completely to him.
- Try not to think of work or other things that could stress you out. Ask your child what he’d like to play or do and just have a great time. Children lose interest in certain activities quickly, which means it isn’t necessary to spend long hours playing.
Know your child
- Ask your child, if he had three wishes, what he’d wish for most. The answer could surprise you. Around 90% of children will say they want to spend time with their parents.If your baby is still too small to communicate, watch his body langauge and focus on non-verbal cues to get a sense of what he really needs from you every day- and try to meet those important needs first.
- Activities don’t have to cost money or require lots of planning. If there’s more than one child in the family, make sure you spend quality time alone with each child and not only as a family. Remember, balance is the key.
Simple ways to spend time with your older kids
Rather than burying your faces in your phones, or sitting in front of the TV, aim to spend quality time with your kids when you walk through the door. So, instead of feeling bad about being at work, feel positive about coming home and look forward to fun acitivities you can do with your kids. Some ideas include;
Make grocery shopping fun
Yes, it will take longer, but next time you hit the grocery store, let your little one push the trolley and help you pick out the items you need. Children love to be given responsibility as they feel trusted and important. Then, before you head home, find a comfy spot to sit – and just enjoy chatting with your child over a snack.
Let your kids cook with you
Rather than plonking them in front of the TV while you make dinner, get your kids involved in the cooking. Even little ones can enjoy “baking” or “cooking” with a few bowls and a wooden spoon. Let them hand you ingredients from the fridge and cupboards, and if they can safely handle utensils, ask them to help you stir, wash vegetables and stir sauces etc. Take time to explain why it’s necessary to perform each task. This will help to reassure them that what they’re doing is important, plus they’ll be spending extra quality time wih you.
Make time for play
If you have the chance to watch your kids participate in extra murals, take some time afterwards to head to the park together or go for a nature walk, where you’re just enjoying the time outside and not focused on a particular task. Besides encouraging gross motor skills and development, playtime outdoors is also relaxing and a great way to stimulate conversation.