Being a mom is hard. Working two jobs is hard. Supporting an entire family financially and emotionally seems close to impossible. The term “working mom” is itself stressful.
A 2013 Pew Research Center report found that mothers rank as the primary or sole income provider for 40% of U.S. households with kids. It also found that 4 in 10 moms report always feeling rushed and overworked, with stress and anxiety a constant reality.
In fact, the number of women working outside of the home has increased drastically in just the past 40 years. (There has been an 800% increase since 1860 and a 13% increase since 1980.) But despite the fact that more women are holding full-time jobs, women are still responsible for most of the domestic duties at home—even if they have a spouse that could share the responsibility.
This makes women feel caught between two worlds: the world of the workingwoman providing for her family versus the world of the mom supporting and loving her family at home. Even though both sides should go hand-in-hand, “time” can create a barrier where neither the persona of the “workingwoman” nor the “mom” feels entirely fulfilled.
Now add a second job to the stress of a working mom. Two jobs and a family at homme is more than just a juggling act—it can become an overwhelming, constant state of unease, pressure, dissatisfaction, and depression.
So, what can working moms do to “wear many hats” without losing their hair?
1. Leave work at work and home at home.
Multitasking has been proven to decrease productivity levels, damage performance, reduce efficiency, and even potentially lower your IQ. “Multitasking” for working moms means trying to handle a million things at once—and still nothing seems to get done. That’s because focusing on one project or task at a time has a higher rate of productivity, success, and return on time-investment. Trying to do too much at once can actually make you less efficient, creating wasted time, added stress, and the feeling of too few hours in the day.
Focus on where you are at any given time. The rest is out of your control. When you’re at one job, don’t think about all of the laundry you have to do at home or what your boss said to you at your other job. Paying attention to the task at hand will boost your output, allowing you to get more done in less time. Basically, not multitasking adds hours to your daily schedule!
Of course, there are emergencies that need taking care of. But in general, everything else can wait. Your teenage daughter will figure out a way to get to the mall while you’re at work. That email about compliance that comes in at dinnertime can wait until the morning. There are very few things that are important and urgent that need to be handled right now. You can learn more about prioritizing tasks by importance and urgency in our article “4 Tips For Time Management.”
2. Find a work schedule that fits.
Moms are never off the clock. That means that work can cause moms to miss important home events, like soccer games, birthday parties, and even putting the kids to bed.
Consider flexible work shifts or optimizing your work time with scheduling software. Flexibility in your job means that you can schedule work around your mom duties. Want to take off Sunday mornings to bake with your kids? Or Tuesday evenings to see your son’s football game? Whatever is most important to you at home, a flexible schedule allows you to take that time for yourself and your family.
This generally means you can prioritize your family first. The best workers know the importance of family and friends. Spending time at home can actually make you happier, healthier, and more productive. It can make you a better person—inside and outside the office! Thus, it’s a smart decision to have a flexible work schedule that will fit with your home schedule.
3. Introduce your family to relaxing hobbies.
What do you like to do to relax? Can you bring your family in on the relaxing fun? For example, maybe puzzles put you in a “Zen” state. Have family puzzle time once a week. Do you like to color? Get an adult coloring book for you and a Disney one for the kids—and share the markers.
Spending time with your family doesn’t have to be hectic. Share your favorite hobbies with your kids, and you’re bound to find one that your kids will love too. This is a great way to kill two-birds with one stone—take time to de-stress while also spending quality time with the family.
A lot of us like to de-stress alone… and that’s okay too! This doesn’t mean you need to spend all of your free, meditative time with your family. Instead, it works as a way to implement relaxation techniques into your family’s dynamic so that you can all live happy, stress-free together. But don’t forget that it’s okay to take time alone too!
4. Remember to smile.
“I think if you love what you do, and the choices you’ve made in your life, somehow that drives you forward to enjoy it all. Even the chaos, even the exhaustion of it, and even when it seems out of balance.”
– Angelina Jolie, actress and mother of 6
Even if you’re struggling to make ends meet, you don’t want to miss all the wonderful moments in your home and work lives. Take care of yourself. Eat right, relax, and enjoy the journey. As they say on airplanes, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. If you aren’t providing for yourself properly, you won’t be able to provide for your family or work productively.
It’s okay to leave the house a little messy. No one cares about the clothes hidden in the closet. Dance around the room to princess music with the kids. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Your physiology influences your productivity, your approach to life, and your overall success. The happier you are, the more you’ll get done—and the less stressed you’ll be.
Achieving work life balance isn’t easy for anyone, but working moms have it doubly challenging.
You’ve got a lot on your plate: two jobs, kids, the house, and your own sanity. Prioritize based on where you are, what is most important to you, and what will make you most productive:
- Don’t multitask; focus on where you are at the time to get the most out of those on-the-clock work or mom hours.
- Use flexible scheduling in order to best integrate your work life into your home life.
- Partake in relaxing hobbies with your family so you can take care of yourself and spend time with the family at the same time.
- Don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of everyone around you—both at work and home.
You can find more time management tips here.
Working moms are the heart and soul of our society. You do so much every day for your family, your job, and for society. Thanks for being a super-mom!
“I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible, oh this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”
– Tina Fey