To hear many professionals tell it, striking a balance between working and your family life is the hardest thing in the world to do. One Pew Research study even found that 60 percent of working moms struggle with work-life balance. But as a single mom and the Founder and Creative Director of my company, Priceless Copy, I’ve found that it’s not necessary to sacrifice everything else in your life to get ahead.
Tips for Managing Work-Life Balance
Here are some of the strategies that have helped me succeed in various roles without feeling overwhelmed.
If you’ve ever tried to carry around a to-do list in your head, you know just how much mental energy you can spend trying to remember it all! That’s why I always suggest that working moms schedule everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING. Block out time for your work as well as for family time and obligations.
This is something Michelle Obama does, too. When filling in her planner, she first writes down family obligations, vacations, and sports activities for her kids. That way, it’s easier for her to see these activities as non-negotiable, and work is less likely to interfere with family time.
Build Your Support Network
While I’m proud of my ability to strike a balance between my work and my family life, I realize that it isn’t something I could have done alone. The truth is simple: I could not have done both without support.
Support can come from a lot of different places. Your own family can be a big part of your support network. So can working mom friends who know what it’s like. And if you’re part of any kind of community group, you’ll likely be able to draw support from that, too.
Choose a Career That Works With Your Personal Life
If you’re already well-established in a career, you probably won’t be going back in time to change it. But if you can, selecting a career that works well with your lifestyle will make your work-life balance a whole lot easier.
For instance, if you want to be able to be present for your kids’ activities, it’s probably not a great idea to pursue a career where you’ll be on call all the time. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to cultivate balance in a job with irregular hours — just that it may be more difficult.
If possible, I’d also suggest that you choose jobs within your field that allow you to prioritize family. I chose self-employment because it gave me the freedom to shape my work schedule around my various family commitments.
Work on Setting Boundaries
Particularly if you’re a kind, giving person who likes to help others, it can be hard to set boundaries. But if you don’t master this crucial skill, you’re likely to find yourself drained, overextended, and resentful.
One thing that has helped me set boundaries is to think about my commitments and decide which ones are simply non-negotiable. That’s it! If someone asks for a favour that conflicts with one of those commitments, I say no.
For many people, learning when to say no takes some time. And if you feel guilty doing so, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself you’re not a machine — you can’t do everything!
You’ll probably feel some guilt as you strive to strike the delicate balance between family obligations and work obligations. Sometimes it’s guilt over missing your kid’s soccer game for a work event. The pendulum swings the other way: many parents feel like they sometimes shirk work responsibilities for family commitments.
It’s important not to let guilt get the better of you. After all, one study found that only 5% of workers reported getting all daily work tasks done every day.
The bottom line is that you simply can’t do everything. And when it comes to making choices, you can take some solace in the fact that you’re making the best choices you can for your family.
Delegate Tasks When You Can
One of the biggest challenges of being a working mom is feeling as if there simply isn’t enough time in the day. Of course, we can’t add more hours to our days. But we can cut down on the tasks we need to do to make time for the most important things. That goes for both home and office.
Choosing to hire a cleaning service means that you’ll have more time to spend with the people that you love. Delegating smaller tasks at work means that you’ll be better equipped to handle more significant projects and crucial decisions.
Carve Out Time for Yourself
If you’re like most working moms, you know that it can feel like burnout is just around the corner between raising a family and staying on top of your work. Making sure you set aside some time for yourself can help reduce your risk of burnout and make you a better mom and boss.
Time for yourself should be just about you. Whether it’s going to the gym, getting a massage, or pursuing an artistic venture, this time should give you a break from the pressures of both work and family.
Reach Out for Advice
From the outside, it’s easy to think everyone has it together. But it’s likely that just about every working mom struggles from time to time. The good news is that you can learn from the struggles of others, and they can learn from yours. Don’t be afraid to reach out to successful working moms in your circle. The chances are good that at least one has a tip that can help you!
Move Forward With Confidence
I hope you can take some inspiration from these stories as you work toward your dreams. If it’s tough to navigate at first, please don’t be discouraged! There’s a definite learning curve, but you’ll be so glad you did if you stick with it.