Raising a family is a full-time job in and of itself. Add in a job on top of that, and it can feel like your life is out of control. Being a mother doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling career while also spending time with your family, though. No matter if you’re returning to work because you want to or you need to, there are a few ways that you can find balance in your life between motherhood and your career.
1. Find a Family-Friendly Employer
Do your research to find an employer that shares the same family values as you
It is absolutely possible to find an employer who values family and respects their employees’ work-life balance. In the same breath, though, there are many employers out there that don’t. When you start looking for a job and interviewing, you should be deciding whether or not they are a good fit for YOU just like they’re deciding if you are a good fit for them.
Before you start looking for a job, think about your needs and what in your personal life you want to prioritize. If commitments like eating dinner with your family every evening, coaching your kids’ sports teams, or helping out with school work are a big priority for you, make sure you find an employer that will be flexible enough for you to still get to do these things.
Finding a family-friendly employer starts with your initial research. You can normally sniff out any employers who don’t have a family-friendly environment relatively quickly. See if the company offers any benefits or resources for parents. Even something as simple as flexible working hours can be a huge help for working mothers. You may also want to look to see if anyone on the leadership team has kids of their own. Be sure to check out reviews from other employees to see if they note any red flags off the bat.
As you start interviewing, remember that you are interviewing the company too! Ask questions about what the company culture is like. Ask your interviewer to walk you through a day-to-day schedule for both themselves and you. Ask about the general flexibility of the company and any specific examples they may have. You will normally be able to get a good read on the company culture and how family-friendly the company is based on their answers.
2. Find Good Childcare
Finding good, reliable childcare will help you feel at ease when returning to work
Finding good childcare will not only help you feel comfortable returning to work, but it will also help ensure you can maintain a reliable schedule at work as often as possible. If you have a family member who can help, this is often one of the best options. That’s not always the case for everyone, though.
If you have children that are too young to go to school all day, you’ll want to find a good daycare program that works with your schedule and aligns with the quality of care you want for your child. When looking into daycares, ask as many questions as you can to get a good feel of what to expect. You may ask questions about:
- The experience of their staff
- Emergency procedures
- Discipline techniques
- Daily routines like outdoor time, learning time, and group activities
- The curriculum
- How the daycare communicates with parents
Now, if your children are of school age but you may need someone a couple of days a week to help with after school hours, a nanny may be the right option for you. There are many trustworthy websites that can help you connect with potential nannies. Ask yourself what you need from a nanny like:
- Daily responsibilities you need them to do, like picking your kids up from school or helping with homework
- How often and how long you need them to work
- What qualities they need to have in order to be a right fit for your family.
Then, after interviewing them, doing a thorough background check, and checking in on any references, you can find a good fit for your family.
3. Plan Ahead For Emergencies
Make sure you have all of your bases covered so you feel prepared no matter what life throws at you
Emergencies are bound to happen. No matter how much you prepare for them, they are unavoidable. With that being said, you can do as much as you can to make sure you have what you need to handle situations as they pop up.
One of the most common emergencies will be when your kids get sick or hurt unexpectedly. Make sure you talk to your employer about how to best approach work when your kids are sick or if they have an emergency at school that requires you to pick them up. If you and your spouse are both unable to leave work, do you have someone in your life that you can call for help? Make sure you talk with your kids about what would happen in a childcare emergency if you weren’t able to pick them up so they aren’t scared in those situations.
Now, as much as we never want to think about it, you need to have a plan in place for more serious emergencies, too. What would happen if you, your kids, or your spouse were to have a more serious emergency that landed them in the hospital? This is where an emergency fund comes in handy.
It’s recommended that you have between 3-6 months of living expenses saved up in case you and your family were to ever need it. Having this saved up can become especially helpful if anything in your family were to happen that would require you or your spouse to take an extended leave of absence from work. This way, you don’t have to worry about missing a paycheck if it came down to it.
Even more devastating to think about, do you and your spouse have a plan if one of you were to pass away? As working parents, it’s already difficult enough to balance taking care of your family and working at the same time. Now, if one of you is no longer around, it would feel almost impossible to keep up.
Investing in a life insurance policy can be a way for you and your spouse to have some financial security if one of you were to pass away. Term life insurance, in particular, is normally very affordable and comprehensive enough to provide that security if it were ever needed. These policies last for a specific period of time, most commonly between 10 years and 30 years. If the policyholder were to pass away during that time, then the beneficiary would receive a payout that could be used to pay for childcare, continue making payments on your mortgage, or anything else your family may need.
As a busy parent, you can find life insurance policies without an exam online for an affordable price and quick coverage very easily online. This way, you can make sure you and your family are covered quickly and it won’t be an investment that breaks the bank.
Though it’s an absolutely devastating thing to think about, you and your spouse need to be realistic about what your backup plans are in order to provide financial stability for your family, no matter the circumstances.
4. Organize Your Calendars
Map out your month and week ahead of time so everyone is on the same page
A little bit of planning goes a long way for working mothers looking to find some balance in their lives. As a family, you can sit down together and map out your schedules both a month in advance and at the start of each week so you are all on the same page. This is especially helpful to establish daily and monthly routines in your schedule so you and your family feel like you have some structure in your lives.
Make to-do lists both for your work life and your home life. If your kids are old enough, delegate some chores for them to accomplish and give them a deadline. Not only will this teach them a little more responsibility, but it will also take some things off of your plate too. Remember, you aren’t in this alone! Make sure you and your partner are splitting parental responsibilities. It’s unfair to expect you to be taking care of everything while also balancing your job.
5. Find a Routine
A regular morning routine can make a big difference when balancing your career and motherhood
Establishing a routine is a great way to keep yourself sane as you balance your career and motherhood. You may want to spend a little bit of time after putting the kids to bed to prepare for the next morning. Waking up at least 30-45 minutes before your kids will give you the time to get ready and get everything together. Another great way to find routine is by preparing your meals ahead of time so that you aren’t rushing around to fix lunches or scrambling to make dinner after work.
6. Set Clear Boundaries
Establishing boundaries at work helps you keep your work-life balance in check
Finding balance as a working mother is not possible without setting boundaries, especially at work. Without boundaries, your employer may take advantage of your willingness to help out, and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.
The best way to set clear boundaries at work is to determine what you need and want and communicate that with your employer. If you know you always need to leave work early on a certain day to pick your kids up from school, communicate that with your employer and work together to find a solution suitable for both of you.
It’s also a good idea to keep records of what you’ve accomplished and the feedback you’ve received. This way, if there are ever any issues at work, you have everything you need in place to come to a quick resolution. Keep a record of your working hours too, especially if you tend to set a relatively flexible schedule. Then, there’s no question about the hours you’ve worked.
If there ever comes a time when you feel your boundaries have been disrespected, it’s best to address any issues quickly. If you work to resolve what you’re unhappy about, you can work with your employer to make sure these things don’t continue to happen in the future.
7. Use Your Time Wisely
Maximize your time at home and work to ease your schedule
Both at home and at work, use your time wisely so you can get as much done as possible. At home, delegating and spreading responsibilities will be the best way to make sure that you aren’t left with a whole laundry list of tasks to do after a long day of work.
To make sure you manage your time at work, limit your distractions as much as possible. It’s so tempting to take a quick scroll through social media, but that can very easily turn into a huge time suck. Set clear goals for yourself throughout the workday to make sure you are getting the most important things done so you can get out in a timely manner.
Let’s face it, you won’t be able to do it all as a working mom. If there are ways that you can buy your time back, do it! Instead of taking a few hours to go grocery shopping, place an order for grocery delivery instead. Whatever is in your family budget to help free your schedule could be a worthy investment to save your sanity.
8. Stay Connected With Your Kids
Even as you see your kids less frequently, you can still use your time to feel connected to them
When you start working and spending less time with your kids, it can feel difficult to connect with them in the same way you used to. This can be totally discouraging and can lead you to regret your decision to return back to work. Always remember, this is an adjustment and it’s absolutely normal to feel like you need some time to feel totally connected to your family again.
If you still have the opportunity to drop your kids off or pick your kids up, use your time in the car to connect with your kids about their days. Ask them questions about what they’re excited about for school or ask them to tell you about their days. Simply talking to your kids and asking them follow-up questions can go a long way.
While it can feel exhausting just to go through your regular routine, make sure you still plan to do fun things with your kids during the week every once in a while. This can switch up your routine and get your kids excited about spending some special quality time with you.
Always remember to keep your work at work. Try your best to avoid bringing it home with you so that you can spend as much time with your kids as possible.
9. Stay Connected With Your Partner
Keep your relationship with your partner strong despite busy schedules
While connecting with your kids will probably take priority for you, remember that you still need to do what you can to stay connected with your partner too. When the two of you are running around trying to make sure everything else is taken care of, it can be so easy to fall out of touch with each other.
Even something as simple as sending quick text messages to each other throughout the day can help your partner know that you’re thinking about them. Make sure the two of you plan out dates regularly and actually make time in your schedule to follow through on them. Both of you might need to make some sacrifices to spend quality time together but know it’s worth it to keep your relationship strong.
10. Remember To Make Time For Yourself
Give yourself some personal time to rest and recover outside of work and motherhood
After all is said and done, the last thing on your mind is probably time for yourself. A little bit of self-care is so important to make sure that you give yourself a chance to reset and fulfill your needs too. As difficult as it may be, make sure you bake time into your schedule for a little bit of “me time.”
Take some time to pamper yourself. Maybe book a spa day, get your hair done, or just do a little bit of self-care at home—whatever is going to make you feel your best. Find time to feed your brain, whether that’s through reading a book or journaling. Don’t forget about your friends, too! Make a lunch date or work with your partner to organize a night out for you and your friends. With a little bit of time to reset, you will be a better parent and a better partner.
While finding a balance between your work life and your home life as a mother is hard, it’s not impossible. With a few adjustments and some preparation ahead of time, you can work towards a healthy work-life balance so you can pursue your career and raise your family.