Motherhood is one of the greatest and most rewarding blessings in my life, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Add a full-time job to the mix and it’s even more demanding. Balancing motherhood and work can be exhausting. Truth be told, I never feel like I’m able to catch up and accomplish all the things I need to get done on a daily (or even weekly) basis. I’m lucky if my daughter makes it to school 5 days a week not smelling like ketchup and wearing shoes that match.
I know women that are stay-at-home-moms and some that are work-from-home-moms. Our lives and our circumstances are very different. Motherhood, no matter what form it takes is never “easy,” so to speak, but working outside the home presents its own unique set of challenges. Spending 40+ hours away from home means less time with my husband, less time with my children, less time to tend to household duties, and less time for myself.
Returning to work after having my second child has proven to be a whole new ballgame. I had gotten used to having a school-aged child that is a little more independent and able to do some things on her own without needing mom or dad almost every second of the day. Having a new baby, a school-aged child, and working outside the home 5 days a week can easily leave me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and downright beat. My house is not spotless. EVER. I rarely have time to go shopping for new, decent clothes that don’t make me look like I wish I was a sloppy teenager all over again (I don’t, by the way). And my kids both probably feel like they don’t get enough of my time and attention individually (especially the older one).
While I haven’t mastered the whole working mom thing, I have found a few things that help me keep my sanity (most of the time, ha!):
- Read a devotional (and pray). While I don’t take enough time in the morning to have quiet time with God (which I feel is absolutely important) because I want to sleep every second I possibly can (yes – I know I need to work on that), having a quick daily devotional and praying throughout my day makes a big difference. It only takes a couple of minutes a day to read and I can pray while I’m driving, working, or doing household tasks. These two simple things really help me stay focused on what’s most important: my relationship with God. I try to read my devo before work when possible or at least take a mid-morning break for a few minutes to read. Jesus Calling is an oldie, but a goody and always speaks directly to my heart.
- Alone time with the hubby. While date nights are ideal, we aren’t able to get away together alone outside the house much lately because of our schedules. It’s just the season we’re in and I know that will change before long but for now, it’s really important for us to find time for each other. Even things as simple as quick phone calls or texts throughout the day can help us to stay connected. We like to watch a movie together or just take the time to talk about our day and what’s going on in our lives after the kids are in bed, so we aren’t constantly interrupted by a talkative 5-year-old or a bouncy, giggly baby – they need our attention when they’re awake, of course.
- Plan ahead. This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes I’m just so tired from the day I don’t feel like planning ahead for the next one. I always regret it when I do that to myself. Anything I can do to prep for the days ahead always makes me want to high-five myself when the next day rolls around. Having my daughter’s clothes out and her backpack ready for school, knowing what I will wear to work, and having a plan for lunch and dinners for the week can make or break how smoothly things run in my house. Having a meal plan helps us eat healthier too. I’m to the point where it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I always try to prep as much as possible for the day or week ahead. I’ll thank myself later.
- Stop and play. Sometimes it’s necessary to put the to-do list aside and just stop and spend time with the kiddos. My daughter loves it when I get down on the floor to play a game with her or sit and read a story together. I guarantee she won’t notice if her nicest clothes aren’t washed for the week, but she will remember the time I spent doing her favorite things.
- Rally the troops. I have a hard time delegating sometimes, but the truth is I can’t take care of the kids and run my household alone. We all have to pitch in and share household duties. That means training my daughter to put her clothes in the hamper and her dishes in the sink, teaching her how to wash clothes and do dishes, and reminding hubby to please pick up his 17 hats and 4 pairs of shoes from the living room. I have to add here that the way in which I ask goes a long, long way. I’m blessed to have a husband who truly is my helpmate. He can’t read my mind but if I ask and be specific with what I need from him, he’s always willing to help (and usually with a smile on his face).
- Go outside. There’s just something about being outdoors that’s good for the soul. Fresh air, sunshine, and the sound of birds chirping and the breeze flowing through the trees can give us a sense of peace and calm our minds. Even if I only have a few minutes here and there, I take a quick break at work to walk outside for a few minutes or swing my baby on the back porch in the evenings. It just puts a smile on my face and makes me feel refreshed. Better yet, when time allows I love to take my daughter to the park or plan a picnic at our favorite garden. I can smell the roses from here.
- Take time for yourself. Sometimes it makes me feel selfish, but I know this is something I really need. There’s a small window at night when the kids are in bed and the hubby is doing his own thing when I have time to do whatever floats my boat. I could spend every last minute cleaning, organizing, and prepping and I might even thank myself the next day for being so awesome, but if I did that and never gave myself time to devote to things that are important to me personally, I would begin to feel like I was losing myself. I need time to read a book, write on the blog, or learn a new photography technique. It helps me feel like my needs are important, too.
- Rest. A.K.A. SLEEP. RELAX. CHILL. It’s hard for me to get enough sleep at this point in my life. I have a baby that wakes up early every single morning, still wakes during the night sometimes, and a husband that works every weekend so I never really get a break. I’m also a night person so while I could go to bed as soon as the kids are asleep, my mind and my body just won’t let me. I really have to seek out opportunities to get extra rest sometimes when possible, whether that means sneaking in a half-dozey nap on the weekend or putting other things aside and hitting the hay at a decent hour once or twice per week. It’s impossible to feel good and accomplish all that needs to be done if we’re not getting enough rest. Just do it.
- Eat right. Balanced meals. Portion control. Fewer carbs, less sugar, and more veggies. Sometimes this is a struggle for me, especially since I work outside the home (and I kind of love chocolate). I feel like we could eat more balanced meals consistently if I had more time to meal plan, grocery shop, and cook every single day… but I don’t. The struggle is real, yo. But I do know that when I eat better, I feel better. Hopefully, as the littlest babe gets a little bigger and becomes more content playing I’ll have a little more time to devote to planning and prepping so we can stay more on track. I won’t be sad to see this baby weight go bye-bye either.
- Exercise. Yes, I said it. The dreaded “E” word. I really enjoy exercising, but because there are so many hours per week I have to be away from home and there’s so much on my to-do list when I’m not at work, this one usually falls by the wayside. This is one I feel like is extremely important, but I need to work on devoting time to. It provides stress relief, helps you sleep better, promotes an overall healthier lifestyle… the benefits are endless. Taking a short walk, riding the bike around the block a few times, or going for an afternoon swim… these are things I love to do. Now if I can just make more time to do them…
What things do you do that help bring balance to your life?
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