Juggling a Career with Being a Mother – The Work-life Balance for Mums

work life balance for working mothers

In the day and age where there is supposed to be greater equality between the sexes and equal opportunities in the workplace, isn’t it curious how seldom the question “How do you cope with working and being a father?” is asked, yet “How do you cope with working full time and being a mother?” is frequently asked. That in itself is quite telling, and also a very true reflection of the society most of us live in today.

So, why do mothers work? Is there a simple answer to the questions? It would invariably seem there are two reasons. First, women enjoy going to work and having a career gives them greater fulfilment in life than being a stay-at-home mother. Second, as is very often the case, mothers can’t afford not to work, the household need the second income simply to ensure all the bills get paid and the children are provided for.

So, if you find yourself becoming a mother but wanting to continue to work once your period of maternity leave is over, what is the best way of balancing a career and motherhood? Do we have any helpful tips for working mothers? What sort of support for working mothers is available? What is the perfect work-life balance for mums?

working mothers

Helpful Tips for Working Mothers

1. Organise reliable childcare – Reliable childcare is one of the greatest resources for providing support for working mothers. Whether it is a nursery, or you are fortunate that you have grandparents willing to help out, having childcare in place that you feel 100% comfortable with and have total confidence in can make a world of difference and can allow you to concentrate on your work. One additional piece of advice. If you are relying on friends or relatives for childcare, have a back-up plan. Unlike a nursery where there are more people available if one is sick or unwell, if you have to take an unexpected day off work because of childcare problems, this can put you under unnecessary pressure in the workplace.

2. Talk to your employer – You might be surprised these days just how flexible and accommodating some employers can be and that they respect working mums can find themselves under a lot of pressure. Some businesses can offer flexitime, working from home, job sharing – the list goes on. The trick is to find out where the land lies, and the best way of doing that is by talking openly with your employers, or the HR department of the company where you work. There are many businesses that focus on providing considerable support for working mothers.

3. Deal with the guilt – There is hardly a mother anywhere on this planet who doesn’t feel guilty the day she ‘abandons’ her child and goes back to work. Trust us when we tell you that you are not alone. The words ‘working mothers’ and ‘guilt’ are almost synonymous! There is an excellent article in VeryWellFamily, an extremely popular website, that helps you to specifically deal with any guilt you may feel when going back to work after having children:

  • “Label your emotions” – Acknowledge when you feel guilty, and name it. Just telling yourself, “I feel really guilty now that I’m excited to go to work,” can help take a bit of the sting out of your emotions. And once you recognize what’s going on, you can address the issue head-on.
  • Develop a mantra. A short affirmation that you can repeat to yourself can help you drown out the negative thoughts that fuel your guilt. Whether you find solace in reminding yourself, “Just because I feel guilty doesn’t mean I did anything wrong,” or you feel better when you tell yourself, “Working moms raise happy kids,” create a short phrase that prevents your brain from dwelling on thoughts that increase your guilt.
  • Remind yourself of the facts. When you start thinking that all the other moms feel horrible about going to work or you begin thinking you’re going to scar your child for life, go back to the facts. Remind yourself that there’s no evidence that working mothers are bad parents or that having a job is detrimental to kids. Instead, review the evidence that having a job might be good for your kids.
  • Practice self-compassion. Harsh self-criticism will make you feel worse. Practice self-compassion instead. Imagine what you’d say to a friend who was struggling with working mom guilt. What kind words of reassurance might you have for her? Give yourself the same kind words of emotional support or advice.
  • Argue the opposite. When you find yourself thinking of all the proof that you’re a bad parent or all the evidence that your child is going to suffer, argue the opposite. Think of all the evidence that supports the idea you should go back to work and that it’s healthy to be excited about it. Arguing the opposite can help you create a more balanced, realistic outlook.
  • Behave like the parent you want to be. Engaging in toxic self-blame will reduce your effectiveness as a parent. Think about the type of parent you’d like to be—strong, compassionate, authoritative, patient, or loving? Then, work on behaving like that type of parent, rather than a guilty one.
  • Engage in self-care. It’s vital to care for yourself, so you can be effective at home and at work. Whether it means scheduling a weekly date night or it means going to yoga class three times a week, it’s important to recharge your batteries so you can be your best.”

4. Communicate with your family – Working, whether part time or full time can leave you feeling stretched for time. It can be very easy to hide from responsibilities and blame your absence on work commitments, but this is often a conflict that can be easily resolved simply by talking to your children and partner if you have one. Often those at home may assume you are too busy to care about them and they can form a negative impression. Explaining the demands being made on you and reassuring those who are directly affected by your being at work that it is not a case of you preferring work over being with them will go a long way to helping avoid unnecessary conflict, even the internal conflict you have to deal with as you try and juggle with being a working mum.

5. Remember your kids want your presence, not your presents – this is some of the very best advice for working mums we can give. All too often you can find yourself feeling guilty for being away from your children more than you would like. The solution to absolve you of the feelings of guilt? Buying nice presents as a way of saying ‘sorry’. However, no child has ever loved their mother more because she bought them a toy truck or a fluffy toy kitten. What your kids want is quality time with you. That doesn’t mean spending a whole weekend with them, or even a whole evening (though they would probably love that). How about you get up half an hour early one morning and cook pancakes or their favourite breakfast, then make a fuss of them before you head off to work? Your kids will remember that breakfast long after the toy truck has been broken or the fluffy  kitten shoved in a cupboard and forgotten about.

6. Consider a career change – Now this may sound quite drastic, but it is not meant to. You probably think we are out of touch with the reality of being a working mother and all the responsibilities that come with that. Trust us, we are fully aware of all the responsibilities, which is why sometimes looking at your options can go by the wayside as you focus solely on keeping the job you have and the financial stability that comes with it. However, depending on your family and household’s financial circumstances, maybe a change could work out very well in the long term. Maybe going part time might help with the work-life balance? Starting up your own business from home or studying part time, working part time and being a mum the rest of the time might work. How about taking an Open University degree which means you could study at home while also being a mum – yes, we do know that children can be very time-consuming when at home, but many women have earned degrees while raising a family?

Conclusions

Being a working mum is always going to be one of life’s greatest challenges, but many, many women successfully combine raising a family with working full time, and while their children may occasionally admit they might have liked their mum to be home a bit more than she was, few children love their mother any less because she had a job!


 

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