Updated: May 6
Being a working mom is hard, not going to lie. I wish I could stay home with my kids all day playing princess, unicorns or zombie chase all day. However, for my entire adult life, I have been a career woman, and that isn't something I am financially able to sacrifice. To succeed as a working mom, is about creating balance between work and family.
As a mom of two, and parenting blogger, some of the topics that I write about, such as Mindful Parenting and Attachment Parenting, have made me realize even more the importance of being present with my own children. I make a point to spend at least an hour a day with my toddler playing something she wants to play.
When it comes to my teen (adult?!) children, I make time for them when they are off of work and needs my attention. It isn’t as structured as with my toddler, but I always make sure to set aside my devices when they want to talk about something, or do something together.
No matter what else I am doing, or how busy I am, I always make my kids the priority, and make sure to spend plenty of time with them.
Sometimes it can be hard to create a balance, but I am lucky to have a supportive partner who not only edits my writing but takes extra time with our daughter when I am in my writing zone. My partner’s help allows me to have time for my writing and still know that my kids needs are being met. Successful co-parenting has been key for me to be able to find a work life balance.
Setting boundaries at work is one of the most important parts of successfully creating work life balance as a mother. Some careers are more conductive to this than others, and it may mean carefully choosing a career or job that will allow you to have time for your kids.
For me, setting boundaries means that I work my hours from 9-5, and I don't check work emails or take work calls after hours.
This wasn't something I always did, as I used to work for years as a manager in the Hospitality industry. I used to run hotels and own a bar, and back then I was pretty much on call 24/7. That meant, I had to have flexible childcare, and I missed out on time with my daughter when she was younger, as well as often missing out on sleep and self care. By the end of my hospitality career, I was ready for something that allowed me to enjoy my life more.
After that, I finally got an office job about 10 years ago. It was one of the best choices I ever made, as I was finally able to be home evenings, weekends and holidays, instead of always having to work.
At one point, I spent a brief stint in an office that had a serious culture of overwork. Our supervisors would send emails any time between 5am and 10pm, and expect them answered, they would ask us to stay late or come in early, and to drive to meetings sometimes several hours away. I told my boss, I have small kids. I don't check emails at home. And, I need to know ahead of time if I need to change my regularly scheduled work hours.
Since I had been pretty aggressively recruited for the position, my boss initially agreed that my needs would be met with the position. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case, and when I held firm to my boundaries, the job turned out not to be a good fit and I ended up leaving. It was a good job, and I was disappointed, but I knew that my life, my kids, and my mental health were more important.
Know your non-negotiables.
When you are researching possible career fiends, interviewing for positions, or applying for promotions, it is important to know what your non-negotiables are as far as your needs for a job. For me, it is having set work hours and location, and not checking email at home. Yours may be different. It may be that you need to be available for childcare pick up and drop off, or that you need to have certain days off.
Make sure you think about this carefully before you start looking for a job. At times, it may seem like any job will do, but getting the wrong job may actually make your life more difficult than not having a job. This has happened to me several times in the past, and the stress of having a job that didn't meet my needs always became untenable, and I had to leave in several instances.
If you are researching good career fields, Monster says that, "The following jobs are potentially desirable for working mothers, because they offer at least one of the following characteristics: well-paying, part-time employment; a flexible schedule; the ability to work from home part time; paid maternity leave; and/or good daycare benefits."
Some of the jobs Monster recommends are as follows:
Market Research Analyst
Elementary School Teacher
In addition, you may want to look into a job where you are able to be self-employed or can work from home. This will allow more flexibility in terms of your schedule.
Remember, when you are interviewing for a job you are bringing useful skills to the table that your prospective employer needs. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, to see if the job will be a good fit.
Have a back-up Childcare Plan.
This is always important, but in the last couple of years with COVID-19, it has become even more so. Our daycare has had to close several times due to an exposure, and my partner and I have had to make a plan in different instances on who would stay home with our toddler when her center was closed.
Back up childcare can be balanced between you and your partner, parents of your child's school friends, or other extended family members and friends. It is important to talk to others beforehand and enlist help in case your usual childcare falls through. There are also some childcare centers that will allow drop ins, it is good to make contact with those ahead of time if you are wanting to plan ahead.
Proper planning can be very important to making your childcare options successful. This is true for older children as well, for when they are on school breaks, or if they need to stay home sick.
Work as a team with your partner.
When you have children, practicing good communication and teamwork with your partner is extremely important. It is important to discuss your decisions about your work and your children with your partner. When managing a household and busy schedules, open communication is key.
Remember, when it comes to parenting, your partner is your biggest ally. My partner and I usually have coffee together in the morning and talk through what we need to do for the day. We also share calendars, so we know who has important appointments on any given day.
Now that I have become a blogger and writer in addition to my day job, working as a team has become even more important. There are times when I will get into the zone with writing and my partner will take on more in order to help me with deadlines. I am lucky that he is so supportive of me, so that I am able to make the dream of my own business come true.
Being on the same page with your partner about your long-term and short-term goals can really help you to be able to balance parenting and work more successfully. Your goals may determine how you balance your career with family life.
By prioritizing your children, working as a team with your partner, setting clear goals and priorities for your work, you can successfully balance career and family. There are many different ways to make things work out well, and you will be able to tailor unique solutions to your own family's needs.
Making sure that your children are well cared for is always the most important thing as a parent. But that doesn't mean that you always have to be the one caring for them. You can have them cared for by your partner, a childcare center, or family member or friend. As long as you do spend quality time with them when you aren't working, you will still be able to have a special and meaningful relationship with your kids as a working mom.
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