The importance of having a good work-life balance for working moms cannot be discounted these days; more so that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, women now make up half of the working population in the U.S.
Do you know that as many as 6 out of 10 working moms are sole, primary or co-breadwinners in their families? They represent 25%-49% of their families’ income back in 2015! And even with this data, it is not easy to show people how challenging keeping a good work life balance is for working moms like you. The reality is, taking care of a child or two is a full-time job in itself…add to that running a home and having one or two jobs outside the home…WHEW!
Luckily, you’re as tough as the challenges that life keeps throwing on your way!
Yes! You can certainly hold your own against the world, there is no doubt about that…
But wait, even Queens don’t shy away from a bit of help to make their life easier. What follows is our compiled in-depth list of handy, smart, and easy to follow time management tips that you can implement in your life as a working mom.
Though the following work life balance tips are for promoting a good work life for working moms like you, stay at home moms would surely benefit from them as well. In fact, go ahead and share these working mom tips with all the single ladies and boss babes that you know! #SharingIsCaring indeed!
Let’s dive in.
Working Mom Tips #1 – Have 3 SMART Goals Each Day
A SMART goal is a group of management and personal development concept which got its name because it is an abbreviation of the following characteristics:
- Time bound
SMART goals help a person (or team) understand and effectively complete a task, and can be set for the upcoming day/week/month/year depending on your needs. Aside from the above, SMART is also an acronym that stands for specific, manageable, attainable, reasonable and timely.
Note that SMART goals don’t include typical everyday activities like making the bed, morning skincare routine, a bit of house cleaning and what not. These activities are tasks (or you can call them ‘chores’ for simplicity) and should be on the to-do list, not under ‘goals’.
Ideally, you want to focus on just 3 SMART goals each day to avoid overwhelming yourself. It is perfectly normal to have less than 3, say a single task that eats up all your available time.
There is also a psychological upside to having SMART goals each day. When you’re following a plan and everything is under control, you won’t be feeling worried or guilty that you didn’t do more.
So how do you incorporate having SMART goals to your work life balance regimen?
For starters, you can create a short schedule that you can follow for the rest of the week and make sure that you follow it to the letter.
At the end of the week, take a quick recap. If you find you couldn’t complete more than 2 tasks each day, so be it. Don’t be afraid to make changes according to your own lifestyle after each week.
Working Mom Tips #2 – Set a Time Limit for All Home Activities
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip for having a good work life balance for working moms except that this one refers to all activities.
As a working mom, time management, and time, in general, is a big issue. There is always something more that can be done regarding the same activity (be it cooking, cleaning or anything else). This is why it’s absolutely necessary to set a time limit for all activities so that you can get your hands on everything important without going mad.
How to set a limit for all home activities as a working mom:
Think about the stuff you usually do during the day and estimate how much time it takes to complete each activity. Then, set realistic time limits (not too short and not too long) and go with that. As you get more practice, you will eventually be able to estimate the time you need for every activity around your house. Need more help? Why not use an app like Timer!
Working Mom Tips #3 – Don’t Strive for Perfection
Your own biggest critique and competition is yourself! If you’re trying to get each and every detail as perfect as possible because you think they should be ‘perfect’…
….You have to stop.
Not only is it physically and mentally impossible to do everything perfectly all the time, but it’s also inefficient.
Do you know that NOT striving for perfection is among the top rules of many successful project managers, software developers and product owners around the globe?
The truth is, trying to make something as perfect as possible takes a lot more time and effort than actually getting it done.
Think about this:
Why would you spend so much time on something that won’t matter in the long run?
So what if the bento you packed for your kid isn’t Instagrammable?
So what if your child’s birthday party didn’t have matching balloons and paper cups?
Are those THAT important or is it more important to you that your child knows that his lunch was lovingly prepared by his mom and that his birthday party was fun and spontaneous?
Don’t swap cute details for memories.
Striving for perfection isn’t a bad thing. It is great! However, you have to compartmentalize it or limit it to specific activities details that you’re dead sure are worth the time and effort in the LONG RUN.
The fact is, no one will be upset and most of the times, no one will know that you weren’t as perfect as you want to be. Your kids won’t think any less of you if the house isn’t spotless or if you forgot to salt the dinner before serving. Cut yourself some slack.
Working Mom Tips #4 – Learn to Say No
One of the main reasons why a lot of working moms can’t have a good work life balance is because they do not know when to say no.
You can’t be everywhere – attend every single corporate meeting, field trip, get involved in all projects, etc. – or do everything, all the time.
It will drive you nuts!
If you know something is inefficient or of low priority, or if you’d rather take a rest than get it done, or simply don’t feel like doing it, then just say no.
The occasional “no” is not only worth it, but it also makes others (including both family members and co-workers) understand that you make your own decisions and that there is nothing wrong with not being overly giving to everyone.
Remember, you don’t have to ‘mother’ everyone by giving them what they want.
You’re a working mom who’s trying to strive for a good work life balance. You’re not everybody’s mommy.
Working Mom Tips #5 – Keep a Single Calendar for Work and Personal Life
Remember all the times you’ve heard stuff like “You should never mix work life and personal life!”, “It’s a very bad habit!” and so on? Well, guess what, it’s already mixed up, whether you like it or not!
Don’t think this is true?
You answer work-related emails while at home and you pick up the phone whenever your kid is calling you while you’re at work.
You need to be truly organized and streamlined to achieve a good work life balance as a working mom.
The last thing you want is to have different calendars that you both need to maintain and carry around (or have access to) just to ensure that you don’t end up scheduling different things on the same day!
Working Mom Tips #6 – Reap the Benefits of Working on Weekends
Weekends used to keep us away from work and allow us to spend time with family – keyword: used to.
The reality is that in this day and age, you still do work-related tasks on weekends (even if you’re not a workaholic, sometimes you just have to). You can ignore this fact all you want but denying this will accomplish nothing. Why not just embrace the idea of working on weekends and take it one step further?
This would seem like it’s a counter idea for striking a good work life balance for working moms but depending on where you work (an office, for instance), visiting on weekends and actually taking your kids with you can offer so many benefits.
You will be able to get some work done for the week ahead while your kids can happily play around the empty office. Bringing your kids with you while you’re working on weekends is a nice change of environment for them and will let them see where their mom works. This will allow you to spend time with your kids while getting some work done for the week ahead, thus, freeing up time during the week.
Just be sure that you’re getting paid working on weekends because if not, you really should just use tip #4 and learn to say no.
If you’re your own boss or have your own business, then working on weekends can bring benefits – such as you’ll be able to go to your kids’ sports practice and that you’ll be home and available to spend time with them when they come home from school.
Working Mom Tips #7 – Say No to Multitasking
Do you know that multitasking reduces productivity and efficiency, and is the primary reason why you actually do less than you can?
It takes an average of 25 minutes for someone to come back to a task after taking even a slight, unplanned interruption. This means that you’ll be wasting around 25 minutes of productivity when you try to switch between tasks.
But is multitasking really THAT bad?
What is the definition of multitasking, to begin with?
Multitasking is an ability to deal with more than one task at the same time.
So just to be clear, multitasking shouldn’t be confused with “performing multiple tasks”. Performing multiple tasks (in an hour, day, week, etc.) refers to being able to do more than one thing by doing one thing at a time.
Another thing to note is that most of the top project managers in the world, agree with multitasking being a huge no. These people are all numbers and productivity. If they say doing something isn’t helping you get things done faster or better, or at all, they really mean it.
Working Mom Tips #8 – Try to Delegate as Many Responsibilities as You Can
To achieve the best work life balance for working moms such as yourself, you have to be really good at time management – and one essential quality that every top manager around the world has is that they’ve perfected delegating responsibilities as an art form making them masters of time management.
The art of delegating the right task to the right person at the right time is an essential skill for efficient time management. No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t do everything yourself. You need to assign tasks to others such as your kids, your partner, your co-workers – everybody.
You might be thinking: “But if I delegate, nobody will be able to do it like myself!”
You’re right and that’s just how things are. The beauty of delegating is that it allows you to find people who can do things better than you can do them.
Isn’t that even better than doing this yourself? And don’t forget that delegating tasks will help you find time for yourself to relax or chill a little bit.
So yes, tell yourself that it is okay to delegate!
There is nothing to feel guilty about when delegating. It’s not just about doing one less thing, but more about making others understand that you could always use a hand.
Delegation can be very useful for kids to learn taking on responsibility from a young age. Children look up to their parents in almost everything they do. Delegating is an opportunity for you to help them become better prepared for life.
Working Mom Tips #9 – Use the Wonders of To-Do Lists to Your Advantage
If you’re thinking that to-do lists are for old people or people with memory issues and that you can handle everything without them, you’re wrong.
When you have a ton of stuff going on around you every day, you’ll end up wasting too much effort and energy on trying to remember all that information if you insist on not using a to-do list.
Maintaining a to-do list allows you to avoid so many tiny details that you simply don’t have to remember. Think of it as a friend who is always there to keep reminding you about even the smallest details. Give to-do lists a try and your mind will be thankful.
Working Mom Tips #10 – Make Time for Yourself
No matter how much of a super mom you are (or plan to be), putting everyone else’s needs and wants ahead of yours is a disaster in the long run. It is not fair for you, not fair for your kids, not good for your partner, and can make you everybody’s doormat at work.
Is that what you want? To lose your personality and what makes you an amazing person just so you can fulfill one limited role?
Achieving work life balance for working moms begins with how they take care of themselves – how YOU take care of YOU!
Don’t forget that you’re still a woman!
Becoming a working mom doesn’t mean that your previous life has ended and that a new one began. Being a mom doesn’t mean taking on the role of being the family ‘slave’. It is one thing to want to take care of your family because it brings you joy and it is another if you feel that you’re trapped by society’s expectations.
Do yourself a favor and strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Think beyond just getting the right work life balance as a working mom.
Working Mom Tips #11 – Get Enough Sleep
Whatever you do, however you decide to spend your day, and even if you ignore all the other things in this article, you have to pay attention to your sleeping schedule.
A good night’s sleep is responsible for practically everything:
- increasing stress resilience,
- helping you make better decisions,
- reducing irritability,
- improving memory and mood,
- boosting your productivity,
- empowering your willingness to achieve greater heights,
- combating foul thoughts and depression,
- helping you find happiness in life and everything around you
- and many more!
Yes! Every important aspect of our lives is, directly or indirectly, connected to sleep.
Here is some science to show you just how important sleep is not just for maintaining the right work life balance as a working mom but for your quality of life, in general:
- Poor sleeping habits are directly lead to digestive diseases.
- One study confirmed that when you don’t get enough sleep, you actually struggle to recognize facial expressions and emotional reactions of other people.
- Even a small amount of lost sleep makes you more prone to catching a cold because it weakens the immune system.
- Around 90% of patients with various orders of depression complain about poor sleep.
- Both too short and too long durations of sleep lead to various cardiovascular (heart-related diseases) outcomes.
- One study of 2800 women found a direct link between lack of sleep and slower walking, lower grip strength and generally poor physical performance.
- Another study found that longer sleep significantly improves speed, accuracy, reaction time and mental wellbeing.
- Little sleep negatively impacts brain functions, similar to alcohol intoxication.
- Poor sleep is directly linked to obesity. People who get little sleep are more likely to gain weight than those who get the right amount of sleep.
The above are only a few of the negative effects of lack of sleep!
Pay special attention to your sleeping schedule and sleep hygiene if you want to have the right work life balance as a working mom. Remember, there is nothing wrong with making yourself a priority!
Working Mom Tips #12 – Stop Feeling Guilty!
It’s shocking how many mothers everywhere have the feeling of guilt, mainly related to not spending enough time with their children and/or families, while at the same time doing their best to give them the best possible future.
How can you feel guilty if you’re trying to save up for college or helping your kids in other ways as they grow up?
Instead of focusing on the guilt, try looking at it from another perspective…think how much you’re doing for the whole family while at work.
Remember that there will always be good and bad days, and spending every day at home isn’t going to change that.
The reality remains that spending less time with family doesn’t necessarily mean that you give them too little. Even a few hours are more than enough to spend quality time with your kids and never let them feel lonely, forgotten, or neglected.
Conclusion: Achieving and Maintaining the Right Work Life Balance as A Working Mom is a Work of Art in Time Management and Living Life!
For working moms, time management is always an issue and no matter how hard you try, you will probably end up being short on time anyway. While the time management tips and work life balance tips shared above will most certainly help you deal with loads of issues as a working mom, you have to realize that it is okay to just do what you can WHEN you can. The only schedule you have to stick to is what works for you!
The trick to having the best work life balance as a working mom is really all about finding the best way to balance both roles as a nurturer and a provider, with the best way being the one that works for you and your family!
Remember that nobody’s perfect, not even those moms that share all those Instagram images trying to impress everybody and making you feel as though you don’t measure up. What you see is just one side of the coin, but there is always the other side of it.
What truly matters is YOU taking care of yourself and your family the best way you can under the circumstances that you have. What other working mom tips can you share below? #SharingIsCaring!