Are you a working mom struggling to achieve work-life balance?
You’re not alone. An incredible 66% of workers believe they don’t have work-life balance.
More than 80% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress, and 54% believe that stress affects their life at home.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is a challenge for everyone, but it’s especially difficult for working women with kids at home.
Like it or not, women continue to be the primary caregivers in the family, and they often run the household. That means everything from managing childcare to balancing the checkbook, and everything in between. If you’re doing it all as a single mom, then you deserve a round applause!
If life wasn’t already complicated enough, the pandemic created a whole new set of challenges. Daycare evaporated. Moms could work remotely, but that created yet another problem. How do you work at home and keep an eye on the kids, or care for an infant?
More than 2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began, and we suspect work-life balance issues are a major reason why.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed – like you have no work-life balance – then it’s time to make a change!
Living in a constant state of imbalance can have serious consequences for your mental and physical health and wellbeing. It can affect your relationships and your happiness.
In our definitive guide to managing work-life balance, we’re going to help you put an end the juggling act. We’ll help you understand what it means to have work-life balance and provide you with strategies and tips to help you achieve it.
So, hang in there and read on! Help is on the way.
Wikipedia says work-life balance is the equilibrium between personal life and career work while Worklifebalance.com defines it as a two sided coin, with achievement on one side and enjoyment on the other.
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all definition because we have different jobs and different priorities for our professional and personal lives.
While work-life balance means different things to different people, it’s safe to say it’s a goal most of us share. The question is how to achieve it in a way that works for you.
What do the experts say?
The key to enjoying the benefits of work-life balance is control. Someone who feels in control of her working life not only enjoys the benefits of improved physical and mental health but also has the increased ability to enjoy life outside the workplace — and not worry so much.
When you have better work-life balance you will enjoy these work-life balance benefits:
Are you always the last one to leave the office? Do you work nights, weekends and holidays? Do you miss important family events because of your job, or argue with your spouse about the hours you spend at work? Do people call you a workaholic?
If any of those questions strike a chord, you could be experiencing work-life imbalance. The consequences can be serious.
The failure to balance the demands of a job with your personal life can damage your health, not to mention your career and personal life.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems," including:
Time put it rather bluntly. Working too much can kill you.
If being a workaholic doesn’t kill you, it will very likely have a detrimental impact on your career and your personal life over time.
While you might score some points with the boss in the short-term, overworking can have an adverse effect on job performance in the long run. Why? Chronic overwork and a lack of work-life balance leads to exhaustion, which leads to errors, absenteeism, and lower productivity.
If you insist on being a workaholic, then you can expect your job performance to suffer on many other levels, including:
Even more importantly, having a poor work-life balance can harm your relationships and your family. For one thing, you can’t be a good life partner or parent if you are rarely home. If you’re feeling stressed and irritable all the time because of pressures at work, you’re more likely to take it out on those closest to you
As a busy working mom, your long-term health and productivity depends upon your ability to have work-life balance.
Achieving balance can be very challenging, but we have the 10 best work-life balance strategies to help you improve your work-life balance and break the cycle of stress.
Time management is a way to manage activities and behaviors to make the most productive use of the time you have to achieve your goals in life, both at work and at home.
But before you can properly manage your time, you should first define what success means to you, and understand what it takes achieve it.
Do you want to win a promotion and earn more money? Do you want to spend more time with your family? What is most important to you?
Once you answer these questions, you can then start to think about prioritizing your activities and making a plan to bring more balance to your life.
With so much to do and only 24 hours in a day, you will have some hard choices to make if you want to achieve work-life balance. But once you decide what’s really important you will be on your way to a more balanced life.
Your list of priorities should reflect what is most important to you, while addressing everything you absolutely have to do on any given day.
This is where things get tricky because some things have to get done even if it won’t move your career forward or make your life more enjoyable. Meals have to be cooked, clothes have to be washed, bills have to be paid, the car needs to be serviced, the grass has to be mowed – and so on, and so on, and so on. Daily chores need to be considered even if they are not at the top of your priority list.
Talk with your partner and discuss expectations. You can’t do it all if you are serious about achieving work-life balance. Consider splitting household chores. What would be the easiest, healthiest solution for both of you?
Look for ways to gain hours for yourself. For example, are there activities that you do out of habit or obligation that you can give up? Instead of commuting, would taking a bus or train to work give you time to get more accomplished? If you can afford it, hiring a house cleaning service or nanny could also free up more hours in your week. Instead of cooking every night, consider ordering a meal kit, or having takeout.
Find what works best for you and your budget.
Now that you have defined your priorities you can make a schedule that reflects those priorities. Write it down (or put it in an app) and stick to it.
Only fill your time with the activities and people you value the most. Include the number hours you plan work, and the chores that must be done at home.
Let go of anything outside of work that doesn't need to be accomplished on a particular day. In that way, you will accomplish something every day and not waste your time on stuff that doesn’t matter or that isn’t a good use of your time and energy.
The schedule should provide for family time and time with your spouse or significant other. Don’t forget date night!
The schedule should also provide time for YOU.
You may find these apps helpful with scheduling.
Women spend so much of their time taking care of others that is affects their own wellbeing.
Whether it’s taking kids to school and sporting events, or to doctor’s appointments, the burden always seems to fall on mom. For example, 81% of women take their kids to all the doctor’s appointments.
Because of the added stress that can come from being a mom in today’s hectic world, it's important to specifically make time for exercise and self-care. Research has proven that exercise will boost your energy level and your ability to concentrate. Although you may dedicate a half-hour of your day to exercise it will pay off in more productive work hours.
The CDC recommends doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity at the equivalent of 30 minutes a day, but it can be broken down into smaller segments. You can half this time if you dedicate your workout to vigorous aerobic activity.
You must replenish your bucket with self-care. This could be yoga, meditation, a massage, or even a long bath.
You have to take time for yourself. Make time to socialize with friends, and make time for your hobbies, whatever they may be.
Find activities that fill you with joy, relaxation, and the energy to thrive with a healthy work-life balance.
Imagine you’re having a family dinner when you get an urgent text from your boss. You excuse yourself from dinner to take care of the situation. But before you know it, you’ve been working all evening.
With the demands of modern business requiring constant accessibility via text, social media, and email, workers feel obligated to remain connected all the time and, therefore, put themselves at the beck and call of others.
There is nothing wrong with staying connected, but you have to draw the line if you want to have work-life balance. When you mingle work and family you aren't successful at either.
That’s why it’s important to disconnect from technology when you are with family. Turn the computer and smartphone off.
In addition, studies have shown that too much screen time can also affect your mental health. It has been linked to insomnia, depression and anxiety related to cognitive over stimulation.
Psychology Today warns that “screen addiction” can damage the brain. It can also impair your ability to think and reason. Other physical effects include eye strain, cramped muscles in the neck and hands, and overeating.
Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you spend time away from the screen and turn off your devices well before bedtime. Allow your brain to disengage, whether that happens through reading a printed book, taking a walk outside, pumping iron in the gym, or gathering with friends.
Remember, time at home should be for you, your family, and relaxation.
As modern mothers, we are living in a Pinterest world. We compare ourselves to idealized images of themed birthday parties and school goodie bags. We want to work full-time and be supermom on the PTA all at the same time.
But enough is enough.
If we are seeking work-life balance something has to give. Let someone else be the room mom, snack mom, yearbook designer, and whatever unnecessary burden you may put upon yourself.
Instead, put your energy into quality time with your family and children when you can.
Try not to sweat the small stuff. But if you are having difficulty, talk with your friends or family members about the situation. You may learn they have shared similar experiences to your own.
If talking with someone you know is too difficult try self-help books or an independent counselor.
In the end, it's about planning for what you can anticipate and surrendering to situations you can't control.
Be kind to yourself. Forgive your mistakes and celebrate your successes.
Human beings need social connections and community to thrive. These connections also help people remain emotionally, psychologically, and physically connected to the world beyond their front doors. Going out with friends and family, even just for coffee, hones those social skills with interactions between real people, not digital ghosts.
If you work too much, you can lose these important social connections.
At MotherWorks, we understand the unique challenges working mothers face. It's our belief that remote work can be the answer for many women. Remote work can provide a more flexible schedule, no commute, and help you save money on childcare.
The flexibility of remote work allows mothers more time for doctor appointments, to volunteer at their children's school, and to care for a sick child. I
Here are some remote jobs to consider:
And there many more work-from-home job opportunities you may not have thought of.
We've suggested many work-life balance strategies including planning your time, making time for self-care, and accepting help with home tasks or emotional support. Find which strategies speak to you and go for it. You'll find lots of articles about work-life balance right here on MotherWorks.
It's okay if change doesn't happen instantaneously. You can always add more strategies as you go to create the desired work-life balance you've been hoping for.
Work-life balance is important for your physical and mental health. Finding the right balance for you will raise your quality of life and in turn the lives of your family. You owe it to yourself, momma.