My recent attempts to balance a rewarding career and being a more present mom ultimately led to my decision to transition from my role as VP of Marketing. I said goodbye to the world of Silicon Valley tech startups and hello to my now full-time position as Founder and CEO of New Modern Mom.
As I transformed my maternity leave passion project into a full-time job, I discovered the value of pursuing a career that inspires and motivates me and also lets me lean into motherhood with flexibility to build the life I want to live.
As I reflected on my journey, I realized that my desire to strike a balance between family and work is incredibly common among mothers. So many of you reached out with personal DMs offering your stories, and your challenges to “do it all.” We all are struggling to balance every aspect of life as working moms. While some days can be fun and exciting, others can be completely exhausting.
I'm a few months into this new career that marries my profession and my passion, and what I've discovered is that no mother should be fooled into thinking that work-life balance is the dream. There is no real permanent “balance.” Instead, I encourage you to pursue work-life fulfillment, prioritizing the people, projects and pleasures that fill your cup in this current season of life. But in order to do this, it requires deep introspective work to understand what you are optimizing your time for right now. What will make you authentically, deeply happy?
As a busy working mother with young kids, whether you’re working full-time or part-time, this personal development work may not be on the table for you this week, this month, or this year. You may just be in straight up survival mode. And that's okay. If this sounds like you, I've put together a round-up of practical tips that will help you find a work-life balance to get you through this season of life while you begin to reflect on what will make you truly fulfilled.
10 Tips on Mom Work-Life Balance
Let go of the mom guilt.
As moms, we’re often expected to put our careers on the back burner. We’re made to feel like we’re doing our children a disservice by splitting our time between our jobs and our families.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OKAY to let go of the guilt. You should let it go. There is nothing wrong with maintaining a career when you have kids.
To quiet the guilt that’s clouding your thoughts, consider all the ways your career benefits your family and your life. These benefits aren’t exclusive to your finances. You’re also setting an example for your kids and demonstrating the value of work ethic and accomplishing your goals. I love that someday Willow could be inspired by me conquering my dreams while being a mom, and do the same for herself when she has kids of her own.
The point is, you’re a great mom–you’re proving that moms can do both, and for that, you shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty. In fact, you should be giving yourself a pat on the back! Mom guilt just adds another layer of complexity and chaos to your life as you try to do more to “make up” for the “lack” of time you spend with your kids. Remember, you are giving just as much to your kids as any other mom! Even stay at home moms have these feelings as they do housework, manage schedules, and maintain a social life. We all share this guilt, and we ALL need to let it go.
Don’t get sucked into the “perfection” you see on social media.
No one is perfect, despite what social media might tell you. I promise you the first thing on my mind when Caden is throwing toys and them himself on the floor is to take out my phone and share it with the world.
You’ll drive yourself crazy if you constantly think about what you could or should be doing. Instead, focus more on being present and getting the most out of that moment. Put the phone down. This way, any amount of time you get with your family is that much more meaningful and the time you spend on work is more productive.
This is another opportunity for you to simplify. You can cut down on the number of social media accounts you have or reduce your usage. There are several great apps now that will actually lock you out of social media for certain hours or after an amount of usage to help with restriction. If reels of seemingly perfect moms get you down, those accounts probably eat up a lot of your time too. Ditch the accounts that cause you stress or suck you into doom scrolling, or set usage limits on your devices to reduce the interaction.
Social media isn't bad, by any means. I love how it allows me to connect with all of you… there are lots of good tips on there too! However, I have to keep myself in check to ensure I engage in content that fills me, not drains me. I like the mom influencers that don’t have that picture-perfect social media facade and actually help empower me as a working mom.
Make the most of family time.
A survey by Mother Untitled revealed that 83% of working moms expressed a desire to spend more time with their kids. For many working moms, working fewer hours isn’t an option. Even if you do have the option, it can’t compromise your personal goals, which you shouldn’t do in motherhood either. This is why it’s especially important to make the most of family time when you have it.
I recommend setting aside around 3 hours each and every evening for family time. Some of this time should be spent bonding with your children, eating dinner as a family, reading bedtime stories, and getting the kids ready for bed. The rest of the time should be reserved for bonding with your spouse. During this time, put the phone away, shut the laptop, and lock out any other distraction.
You can also plan family activities to enjoy together, like game nights and weekend day trips, but I’ve found that making the most of small moments each day has a bigger impact overall. To take advantage of everyday moments with your family, try including your kids or spouse in tasks that you would otherwise tackle alone. Even mundane chores like cleaning dishes or running errands like a Costco trip can become special moments with your kids or spouse if you stay present and enjoy that time with them.
Use time-saving frameworks and hacks.
A great tip for moms hoping to strike a balance is to use time-saving frameworks and hacks whenever possible. Countless shortcuts can help you be a successful working mom.
Some of my favorite time-saving frameworks and hacks include:
- Utilizing the 3-3-3 Method to prioritize your days
- Ordering groceries online for curbside pick-up or delivery
- Scheduling conference calls for your commute and using an AI tool like Supernormal to transcribe
- Using weekly meal prep (freezer meals for the win!)
- Setting out clothes for yourself and your kids the night before
- Following a weekly cleaning schedule and hiring actual cleaners at minimum every other week
- Focusing on making your home functional, rather than picture-perfect
- Setting all your bills to auto-pay
- Establishing routines wherever possible . . . especially in the morning
Delegate household responsibilities, which means hiring help when needed.
Maintaining your home is the responsibility of everyone who lives in it. Taking on most or all household responsibilities puts a huge burden on your time and well-being.
Talk with your spouse about ways you can divide household chores . . . and get the kids involved too by assigning age-appropriate chores. If you have a nanny or au pair, consider delegating certain household tasks to them as well.
Remember, you can have it all, but you absolutely cannot do it all. So consider hiring a team to help you manage your household to fill in the gaps for you and your spouse. This could look like a house cleaner, a mother's helper, a gardener, a dog walker, a meal prep chef. The goal is to minimize your to-do list of things that won't help you find work life fulfillment.
Don’t settle for less than the best childcare.
Finding childcare for your kids isn’t a decision to take lightly. Having reliable childcare for weekdays as well as evenings and weekends when needed, is a crucial component of work-life balance.
Working parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether their child is in good hands. To give you peace of mind during your working hours, look for childcare that goes above and beyond to meet your needs. You should be picky when it comes to ensuring your child is cared for.
To find the best childcare for your kids, look for a licensed reputable daycare with a stellar reputation. Ensure they have flexible hours, clean facilities, and a low teacher-to-child ratio. If you prefer to hire a nanny or au pair like we did, look for someone with plenty of experience, several great references, and a personality that suits your family.
Maintain open communication with your boss.
Maintaining open communication with your employer is important for several reasons. Inform them of your family commitments, but make it clear it won’t diminish your value as an employee.
Explain how you plan to work around unexpected issues, like having to leave early to pick up a sick kid from school. By setting proper expectations of when you will be online, or when there will be a delay from answering a Slack message, you will create boundaries to ensure that your boss will be more understanding in situations where a bit of flexibility is required.
Take time off.
PTO and vacation time are meant to be used. I feel like too many of us think we’re really doing our career a favor by never missing a day. It’s just not true. Not only do many great bosses want you to prioritize time outside of work, but you’ll be better at your job with some time to refresh and reset.
I also find that if I have a few particularly taxing weeks where I wasn’t as present with my family as I wanted to be, I can look ahead to our next trip or vacation. It reminds me that I have hours and days of devoted time ahead to be present and create lasting memories. Then, you can return to work and your routine, with washed away mom-guilt and renewed energy.
For places to visit with your kids, check out the travel section of my blog.
Say no, and mean it.
What’s interesting is when we say “work-life balance”, those two things really aren’t equal. “Work” embodies one thing: our career. However, “life” involves everything else: our family, our friends, our hobbies, and all the other commitments that come up. We forget that “life” really involves so much, and it’s the reason so many working moms are burned out.
We get sucked into volunteering for the school celebration, attending every kid’s birthday party, planning your social club’s fundraisers, and making it to every little league soccer practice. Mama, let me tell you that you don’t need to do all of this. You really don’t. There are moms of all types out there, some have the time and passion for these things, and some that don’t.
As a working mom, you should never feel guilty for telling your child’s preschool you won’t be able to make brownies for the Valentine’s Day party or telling your aunt that you won’t make it to your cousin’s baby shower. Also, your kids don’t need to be involved in every activity they’re eligible for. Keep it simple. Pick a few things that you can handle and truly enjoy doing, and say no to the rest—and mean it.
Make time for yourself.
Chances are, from the day your child was born, you put their needs and the needs of your family above your own. But how can we expect ourselves to be the best mom to our kids if we don’t take care of ourselves?
Even if it means having to wake up a little earlier in the morning, making time for yourself is just as important for work-life balance as everything else in this post. Incorporate simple yet intentional acts of self-care into your daily routine and your whole family will reap the benefits.
Shift your thinking from work-life balance to work life fulfillment.
It's not about balancing all the things. It's about finding fulfillment in the areas of your life you put your time and energy towards.
Being a working mom is hard. Maintaining a work-life balance is even harder. I hope that at least a few of the tips in this post can help you achieve the fulfillment you’re striving for.
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