For women at work, striking the right balance between pushing your career forward while raising a family is a popular struggle. The dream of “having it all” is one that many women strive for, but the reality is much more difficult to grasp.
Just when you think one part of your life is under control, another part of it falls to pieces, and you’re left feeling like you are constantly juggling too many tasks.
One minute your career is going great and you are spending plenty of quality time with your kids, but then your health suffers as a result.
Or you might feel like mother of the year by taking your kids to all their extra-curricular activities, but then your work starts to suffer because you are distracted by your home life.
For mothers who also want to work, this struggle is all too real, but it doesn’t have to be this way. By achieving and maintaining a good work-life balance, you can keep everyone in your life happy while fulfilling all of your own goals.
1. Learn To Work Smarter
The simplest way to free up more hours in the day and put an end to late nights in the office is to learn how to work smarter rather than longer.
Take some time to identify areas that could be more efficient in your working day. This can involve anything from cutting down your time spent on email to outsourcing some of the more time-consuming tasks that you have to do on a daily basis.
You will have to prioritise your workload and ensure that tasks are completed within a set duration – this means you will stop letting tasks drag on for longer than necessary.
Another way to work smarter is to accept that finishing a task in enough, and not everything has to be perfect.
If you are the kind of person to stress about formatting things in a certain way, or combing over your work looking for errors, it might be time to try being less of a perfectionist.
While some tasks will require a little extra attention, there are also some tasks that are sufficient when finished.
2. Set Aside Time For Yourself
This might seem counterintuitive, but setting aside time for yourself in your busy life is the best way to ensure you don’t burnout.
This can be as simple as making time to attend your favourite fitness class with a friend. It’s important that this is treated as a priority, one that cannot be cancelled, pushed back, or set aside.
You owe it to yourself to ensure your mind and body are in good shape, and putting aside time for yourself is the best way to achieve this.
You can’t be a caring mother and a successful business person without keeping yourself healthy and mentally strong.
3. Learn To Say ‘No’
It’s a common myth that you have to always be available in order to excel in a professional environment. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, always saying yes to the extra work will mean your work suffers, and you could soon be known as the office pushover.
Learning to say no to extra work will show that you have a realistic view about how valuable your work is, and will prevent you from getting snowed under with extra requests.
Obviously, you can’t just start saying no to everything, but you should start holding out for the opportunities that can actually help your career.
4. Get Your Partner Involved
Unless you are a single mother, then you aren’t raising your children alone, and your partner should respect this.
Getting your partner involved shouldn’t be limited to things like sharing the housework in the evening. Your partner should help with everything from the school run to taking time off work when your children are sick.
Companies are starting to come around to the idea that parental responsibilities are best shared between both parents, so this should be met with a more understanding tone from your partner’s employer.
Split all parenting tasks down the middle and you will be surprised how much time this frees up, not only for your work, but to spend more quality time with your family, friends and partner.
5. Request Flexible Working
Flexible working can take on a variety of different forms, from shifting your hours to work around the school run, to working from home a few days a week so you can help with childcare duties.
Working from home can be a huge help for parents as you will save so much time by not committing to the office. Being able to work from home at short notice is also ideal if you have to deal with a sick child, as you might have to take a vacation day or a sick day to care for them.
Flexible working is on its way to becoming a standard right for all workers, and the process should soon be much easier to navigate. Employers are starting to wake up to the idea that keeping their employees happy means they will be much more productive.
The idea of flexible working is that you are able to establish a flexible working schedule that allows you to fulfill all of your work duties while also being able to take care of your family at home.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Hire Help
A lot of women fear hiring someone to help them with things around the home as they worry that it will make them seem like they cannot manage a household.
You need to silence your inner critic and remember that no one needs to know if you’ve hired a cleaner or if you have help with childcare during the week. There’s nothing wrong with saving yourself some time by getting some help around the home.
This could be anything from hiring a weekly cleaner to help keep on top of the ironing, or even signing up to a meal delivery service so you don’t have to worry about putting a healthy and nutritious meal on the table every night.
You can hire people to help you with everything from walking your dog to filing your taxes, so there’s nothing wrong with picking one household chore that you hate doing and then outsourcing it.
7. Try A Different Career
If your current career choice doesn’t create the right work-life balance, then it might be time to consider a new career.
There are so many careers that will allow you to have a good work-life balance, so it might be that all you need to do is train in a different area. Teaching is a good option, as you will have a similar schedule to your children, meaning that you will always be at home when they have vacations.
You could also foster a child, as this will allow you to combine your parenting expertise in an altruistic role. You could also consider starting your own business, as this will allow you to have complete flexibility and to set your own schedule.
However, a word of warning, the early stages of starting a business will likely be very time consuming, so this might not be a quick fix but more a long-term option to allow you to take control of your own life.
Ryan Duffy is a freelance writer who is a recent university graduate in Media Studies. His passion for people and writing has encouraged him to pursue this career full-time. Writing on behalf of Lorimer Fostering, he enjoys writing about lifestyle topics and this is where most of his work has taken him.