When you’re a working mom, your whole life can feel like a balancing act. You rush from the day care drop-off to your big boardroom presentation. You juggle school calendars with your schedule and your babysitter’s availability. Some days are super happy and easy, and other days leave you frustrated and just plain tired.
Pouring into your kids and your career is tough—but listen, you’re the woman for the job. I know that because you’re doing it! You’ve been given these precious little ones to take care of, and you’re kicking butt at your job. Whatever season of life you’re in . . . you get to decide how you’ll tackle it.
I’m a mom of three little kids myself—and I also have a busy career. And I still want to have a social life with my closest friends and go on date nights with my husband, Winston! (All that to say, I know what it’s like to be stretched thin.) So, after years of experimenting with creating work-life balance, I’ve discovered a few helpful tips for working mothers that I want to share with you.
How to Balance Life as a Working Mom
Before we get tactical, I want to share my definition of life balance with you. When it comes to life balance, it might feel like we’re always behind. Like if we could just be more productive or manage our time better, we’d finally strike the perfect balance between work and family.
But the thing is, working moms get the idea of life balance wrong! It’s not either-or. It’s not spending an equal amount of time on everything—it’s choosing what to focus on at any given time.
And right now, you’re in a season where learning how to be a good mom and having a job are both important things to focus on. You can feel confident, even in your busy, hectic life, because you know you’re spending your time on what matters most.
With that in mind, here are a few ways you can create life balance as a working mom.
1. Consider the season you’re in.
It’s so important to remember we live life in seasons. By “seasons,” I mean we go through different phases of life circumstances that demand our time, energy and focus. Your current season can help you determine what your priorities should be.
Whether you’re transitioning back to work after having kids or you’ve been a working mom for over a decade, be honest about where you are. Also, your kids go through their own seasons. Maybe they’re starting their first year of high school. Or maybe one of your children was just diagnosed with a learning challenge. It’s okay to let some priorities go so you can focus on what matters.
And if you’re in a tough season, trust this: It won’t last forever. Seasons come and go. The most important thing you can do is be present and intentional no matter where you find yourself.
2. Give yourself grace.
Ladies, we are way too hard on ourselves. We can even be downright mean! If you’re struggling to give yourself grace, ask yourself this question: Would I talk to a friend the way I’m talking to myself? If not, cut it out. Refuse to be your own worst critic. So what if you made do with store-bought cupcakes instead of homemade for the bake sale? Or asked your neighbor to pick the kids up from school so you could go to your doctor’s appointment? The job is still getting done.
3. Prioritize your spouse (if you’re married).
Your first calling is to be a wife, then a mom. Women often flip the two, putting their kids before their spouse. When things get busy and the kids take center stage, it’s easy to drift apart from your spouse and forget you’re each other’s teammates and biggest support system. Everything in your life—including your career and your kids—will be better if you have a strong, healthy, fun and connected marriage.
Get Everything You Need to Land the Job You Love!
You might already feel too busy, but you’ve got to make time for your spouse on your calendar. Get rid of something else that’s taking up your time so you can put a weekly date night on your schedule. Find small and quick ways to connect throughout the day.
If you’re a single mom, let me say you’re incredible and doing a great job! I’m so proud of you. And you need support too. I encourage you to make it a point to connect with your close friends regularly. When you spend time with friends who love you, support you, and listen to you, you’ll feel more energized and be able to show up and love your kids well.
4. Don’t try to do it all.
Your time, money and energy are finite. You’ll always have to make choices about how you spend them. You can either choose what matters most to you, or you can try to do it all and fail. Because you can’t do everything you want to do—and you certainly can’t do everything everyone else wants you to do.
So accept your limits! Learn to feel confident about saying no to a whole bunch of things so you can focus on the few things that matter: your family and your work. Don’t try to be superwoman and attend every work event and every game or school play. You don’t have to do it all. In fact, you can’t. So let yourself off the hook and breathe a sigh of relief.
5. Let go of the mom guilt.
Mom guilt is a tough feeling to deal with because no matter where you are, you feel like you should be somewhere else. Like when you miss your daughter’s dance recital because of a company retreat. Or when you leave work early—again—because you have a sick kid. No matter what you do or don’t do, you feel bad about it!
And honestly, social media isn’t helping either. When we compare ourselves to internet strangers, we start to put all kinds of crazy expectations and unrealistic standards on ourselves. We feel pressure from society to do it all—to crush it in our jobs and whip up organic dinners from scratch every night (are you kidding?) and color coordinate our kids’ outfits and make sure they get straight A’s.
But guys! Guilt isn’t the answer to “how to be a better mom.” It stresses you out and gives you gray hair. (Okay, maybe not, but it feels like it!) I truly believe we start feeling guilty when we’re not crystal clear on what’s most important to us. Not what our mom or sisters or friends think is important—but us. Aren’t you tired of chasing some elusive life and feeling like you’ve never quite arrived?
6. Wherever you are, be there.
Mom guilt makes us believe when we’re at home, we should be at work. And when we’re at work, we should be at home. And this is making us miserable! A Harvard study even found that being present in the moment is a major sign of happiness. But sadly, our minds are wandering around 47% of the time.1
Give yourself permission to keep your mind and your body in the same place. You’ll get more done, be present, and enjoy your life a heck of a lot more. Otherwise, your distracted thoughts and guilty feelings will draw your mind away from the present moment, and you’ll miss out on your one beautiful life.
7. Make time for rest.
If you’re trying to find a cheat code for how to be a good mom, here’s a good one: Get more sleep. The adult human body needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but I’m willing to bet working moms need even more. A lack of sleep creates a long list of physical and mental health problems. Make bedtime a priority for you and your kids. It’s amazing how much lighter and brighter life feels after a few nights of good sleep!
8. Get up before the kids.
I know I just mentioned getting good sleep, but this one is important too. Wake up before your kids, even if it’s just 15 minutes earlier. Why? Because alone time is essential for feeling balanced, and as a busy mom, this might be the only alone time you get in a day.
Plus, when you wake up before the kids, it helps you start your day as you. You’re not a snack machine or a ride to early morning basketball practice. You get to spend a few quiet moments with a journal, a cup of coffee, or a workout. Having some alone time in the morning will help you center your heart and your head and get ready for the rest of your day.
9. Get help.
No one can do everything on their own, and working moms are no exception! Getting help doesn’t mean you’re weak—it means you’re human. Find creative ways to share your responsibilities and lighten your load, like asking family members to help with childcare or team members to help with work projects.
Here are a few other ideas to get help and save time:
- Go to professional counseling or therapy.
- Try online grocery shopping or meal delivery services.
- See what childcare resources your church or community centers offer.
- Hire a babysitter (or swap babysitting nights with friends if the budget is tight).
- Ask your kids (and your spouse!) for help with chores around the house.
- Make phone calls during walks around the neighborhood.
- Learn how to meal prep or prepare lunches the night before.
- Limit your distractions, like social media, TV or online shopping.
- Take advantage of your gym’s childcare center if it has one.
Start Achieving Your Goals Today
It might not feel like it, but this season of being a working mom won’t last forever. Before you know it, diapers, Saturday morning pancakes and soccer practice will be distant memories. Take heart in the fact that the hard parts of this season won’t last forever, but try not to focus so much on the future that you miss the sweet moments with your young kids.
And remember, life shouldn’t leave you feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel or stuck with a long to-do list. It’s meant to be enjoyed! If you need extra help or inspiration to get organized and accomplish all your goals for work and family, check out the Ramsey Goal Planner. It’ll help you dream big, then create and track your goals throughout the year. It even has features that will help you stay focused on what’s important to you. Perfect for a working mom!
For an even deeper dive into creating a life free of anxiety, take a look at my friend Dr. John Delony’s new book, Building a Non-Anxious Life. It’ll help you make Six Daily Choices to build a more peaceful, joyful, non-anxious life.