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If you’re reading this, congratulations! You probably already have a bundle of joy (or two…or three)
wreaking havoc upon enriching your life. And as you’ve undoubtedly discovered, being a mother is in itself a full-time job. So how do you run a business, too? I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but here are 10 tips that have helped me:
- Set aside some time just for YOU.
I know, I know. Easier said than done. BUT…it’s absolutely essential. You know that in-flight safety spiel, “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others?” You’re no good to anyone else when you’re burned out or stressed out. (Or, continuing the flight metaphor, passed out from lack of oxygen). Try to take a few hours off every week where you focus ONLY on yourself. The world will keep turning if you do this, and whatever work you need to do will be there tomorrow. I try to take one day off a week and not answer the phone, email or texts. Do I do it every week? Sadly, I do not. But when I do, I feel remarkably recharged when I return to work. Just can’t do a full day? Try a few hours once a week. It’s the pause that refreshes. Really.
- Just say “No”.
I used to accept every freelance assignment that came my way. Even if it was boring, or paid too little for the time I’d have to put into it. Or even if I didn’t have time for ONE.MORE.THING. Guess what? “No” doesn’t have to mean “No” forever. It can mean “not right now”, “not this week”, or, simply “later.” However, it can be empowering (and healthy!) to say “no” to work you just don’t have the bandwidth for. Use that extra time to focus on your kids so they know you’re there for them.
- Get some help.
You can’t do it alone, mama. Did you catch that? YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE. None of us can. Have you considered: trading childcare with a friend who has kids the same age as yours? How about asking a neighborhood kid to walk your dog/rake your leaves/run an errand? The best thing I ever did was to hire someone to clean the house every other week. Even if the cleaner can only come once a month, knowing that one day my house WILL be clean helps me tolerate the mess that my wrecking crew leaves behind.
“You can’t do it alone. Did you catch that? YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE. None of us can.”
- Create a support network of other working moms.
You’re not alone; your fellow overwhelmed mom friends are all over the place! I’ve met many a working mama through school and work connections, but don’t overlook the benefit of virtual buds too. On Facebook, my alma mater has a “Moms Over 40” group that’s been an invaluable support. Want something similar? Try searching for “working moms support group”; you might end up with something like this– open to all, it has over 1,600 members you can ask questions of and vent to.
- If you work at home, treat your office like a corporate office.
Set a schedule and goals–write them down. Do not answer the door or phone while you’re working. And for god’s sakes get out of your pajamas.
- Differentiate work and family time.
It’s helpful to be upfront with clients: let them know that your family is numero uno right now, but your client work WILL get done. It just might be at different hours than your clients are used to. When you’re at work, try to focus only on work for a set time. Then, when you’re home, challenge yourself only to pay attention to the rug rats that you love/adore/make you insane.
Maybe you find it easy to delegate at work, but this concept is just as important at home. Perhaps a heart-to-heart with your spouse or partner is in order? Talk frankly about the need to divvy up the household responsibilities and child care. Who’s responsible for what right now? What’s the best way to ensure it all gets covered? At the end of the day, check in by asking yourself the following: are my kids fed & clothed? Do they have a roof over their head? Are they relatively happy? Super! You’re doing great!
“Do not answer the door or phone while you’re working. And for god’s sakes get out of your pajamas.”
- Stay healthy.
Moms have to be ready for anything, but you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. I try to drag myself to the gym a few times a week or meet a friend for a walk when I’m stressed and I always feel better for it. My head clears and it’s often the reset that I need.
- Stay flexible!
One thing I’ve learned is when you throw kids into the mix, all bets are off. Each day I make a list of the top three non-negotiable, must-do things I gotta do. When (if?) they get done, I can breathe a sigh of relief when the call from the school nurse (or the principal) comes in.
- F#*ck guilt.
By far the best advice an older and wiser working mom gave me is to accept that the perfect work/life balance is a myth. What?! Yes. A MYTH. It’s not always pretty, so give yourself permission to NOT feel guilty. It’s a waste of energy. Accept that you may be upsetting your clients or your family at any given moment (gulp). But as long as you’re happy, your kids will be, too.
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