As a working mom, your entire life can feel like a balancing act. You’re wiping spit up off your blazer as you drive from the daycare to your big presentation. You’re juggling school calendars with your schedule and your babysitter’s availability. Some days are full of joy and sweet surprises, and other days are exhausting and discouraging.
Investing in your kids and your career is tough—and you’re the woman for the job.
How do I know that? Because you’re doing it. You’ve been entrusted with taking care of your precious little ones and you’re earning an income. This is your season in life . . . and you get to decide how you’ll rise to the challenge.
Being a mom of three young kids with a busy career and a lot of interests, I know what it’s like to be stretched too thin. And after years of trying and failing, overcommitting then becoming frustrated and resentful, I’ve discovered a few helpful tips that I want to share with you.
Life Balance for Working Moms
Before we get tactical, I want to share my definition of life balance with you. When it comes to life balance, it feels like we’re always behind. We think if we could just be more productive or mange our time better, we’d finally strike the perfect balance between work and family.
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But here’s the deal: We’re getting the definition of life balance wrong. It’s not a math problem. It’s not doing everything for an equal amount of time—it’s doing the right things at the right time.
And in this moment, you’re in a season where being a mom and having a job are both “right things.” 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.
Consider the season you’re in.
It’s so important to keep in mind that we experience life in seasons. And what do I mean by “seasons?” I define seasons as unique circumstances that demand our time and 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 friend, if you’re in a tough season, hear me on this: It won’t last forever. Seasons come and go. The important thing is to be present and intentional no matter where you find yourself.
Give yourself grace.
I’ve never met a mom who cut herself too much slack. Actually, I see the opposite problem all the time! We are way too hard on ourselves. In fact, sometimes we’re 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.
Prioritize your spouse (if you’re married).
Your first calling is to be a wife, then a mom. So many women 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 that you’re each other’s biggest teammates and biggest support. Everything in your life—including your career and your kids—will be better if you have a strong, healthy, fun and connected marriage.
You might already feel too busy, but you’ve got to make time for your spouse on your calendar. Cut something out 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 first of all say that you’re incredible! I’m so proud of you. And you need support too, so I’d encourage you to make regular time to connect with your close friends. Regularly enjoying love and support and a listening ear from your friends will help you feel energized and better able to love your kids.
Don’t try to do it all.
Your time, money and energy are finite. You’re always going to have to make choices about how you spend them. You can either make choices that reflect 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.
Let go of the mom guilt.
Mom guilt is a particularly tough feeling to face and overcome. You feel guilty when you miss your daughter’s dance recital because of a company retreat. Or you feel guilty for leaving work early—again—because you have a sick child. No matter what you do or don’t do, you feel bad about it.
And let’s be honest: Social media isn’t helping anything. We absorb all kinds of crazy expectations and unrealistic standards by comparing ourselves to everyone out there. We feel pressure from society to do it all—to work and have clean organic food on the table and make sure our kids are wearing the best clothes and getting the best grades.
But here’s the problem: Guilt doesn’t make you a better mom. It stresses you out and makes you anxious. One of the root causes of guilt, I believe, is that we’re not clear on what’s most important to us. Not what’s most important to our mom or sisters or friends—but to us. We’re always chasing some elusive life and feeling like we’ve never quite arrived.
If you’re struggling with a low-level sense of guilt, I invite you to check out my new book, Take Back Your Time: The Guilt-Free Guide to Life Balance. You can start reading the first chapter for free!
Wherever you are, be there.
One of the side effects of mom guilt is that we’re never confident in what we’re doing. When we’re at home, we feel like we should be at work. And when we’re at work, we feel bad about not being at home. Without meaning to, we’re making ourselves miserable. A Harvard study found that being present in the moment is a massive indicator of happiness. And sadly, 47% of the time, our minds are wandering.1
Give yourself permission to keep your mind and your body in the same place. You’ll get more done, be present, and truly enjoy your life. Otherwise, you’ll let your distracted thoughts and feelings of guilt draw your mind away from the present moment, and you’ll miss out on your one beautiful life.
Make time for rest.
The adult human body needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night (and I’d be willing to bet that some working moms need more). A lack of sleep creates a long list of physical and mental health problems. Make bedtime a priority for you and your kids. The world feels brighter and lighter after a few nights of good sleep.
Get up before the kids.
I know we just talked about getting good sleep, but this one is important too. Get up before the 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 dispenser or a ride to early morning basketball practice. You get to spend a few quiet moments as yourself, 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 prepare for the rest of your day.
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. Whether it’s family helping you with childcare or team members helping you with work projects, find creative ways to delegate and lighten your load.
Here are a few other practical ideas:
- Go to professional counseling.
- Try online (or delivery) grocery shopping.
- See what 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.
Don’t miss these moments.
I know it doesn’t feel like it, but this season of being a working mom won’t last forever. One day your kids will grow up and move out. Diapers, Saturday morning pancakes and violin lessons will be faraway memories. I encourage you to lean into these moments and soak them up.
Life isn’t a grind or a hamster wheel or a long to-do list. It’s a gift that each one of us receives from God. My hope for you is that you choose to look for the joy and the beauty in each day at your job or with your kids, even when it’s hard.