Achieving work-life balance can prove to be quite a challenge, especially to first-time mothers. Whether you’re a stay-at-home entrepreneur or a corporate executive; being a mother is already a full-time job as it is, but maintaining your professional career concurrently is definitely no easy feat.
Some mothers feel guilty for being at work from 9 to 6. Therefore, the rest of the day, they devote themselves to their children. One should know that keeping up with tasks and responsibilities (as a mom and as a professional) 24/7 is almost impossible. Having some time for yourself is important to ensure that you do not crash and burn.
Here are some tips to ensure that you are achieving that work-life balance and maximising your time without putting your career nor your kids at risk:
1. Prepare Everything You Need The Night Before
Making sure that you wake up on time and prepare everything you and your children need can be difficult. As a working mom, preparing things the night before can help you save time and worry less!
Coming home from work, the only thing that you really want to do is relax on the couch. Instead of going straight for the duvet, do a little prep work such as thinking about what they are eating for breakfast; what you’re going to wear tomorrow. Come morning time, these tasks are out of your way and you will have a routine you do not have to struggle with!
2. Invest In A Family Calendar
As much as you think the family WhatsApp chat keeps everybody up to date with the numerous appointments, schedules, bills and birthdays coming up; it is better to invest in a family calendar that can help you keep track of each of your family member’s daily agendas.
By doing so, you can prepare things beforehand, such as, if your daughter has a dental appointment on a weekday; you can ask for a leave of absence in advance. Going digital is also a good idea, by using Google Calendar, you can check on them through your smartphone. If, however, you are thinking of going the traditional paper and pen way, you can even make it a great family bonding activity, where you decorate the months yourselves!
3. Let The Guilt Go
There will come a point in your life where your child is older and independent enough not to be checked on 24/7. Feeling guilty for leaving your kid for the day is inevitable but it does not have to be all-consuming. If you find yourself being consumed by the guilt of not being with your child at home, think of the positives of working to you and them.
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Besides the obvious added financial support such as paying the bills, think about the fact that your job is allowing you to pay for things for your child to improve their way of life. You’ll be able to contribute towards their college education, if they need something you’ll be able to get it for them. While money certainly isn’t everything, it can be really stressful as a parent when you don’t have it.
If your partner is also working, then there are two sources of financial income to pay for the bills and other household expenses. Overall, this is improving your family’s way of life. It will also be easier to save for their college funds as well as an emergency fund for a rainy day. So, if you find yourself feeling guilty for not being able to spend more time with your children, just remember that everything you’re sacrificing, you’re doing for them.
4. Ask Your Employer For A More Flexible Schedule
Beyond maternity leave, asking your employer for a more flexible schedule can help you with raising a kid. Many working mothers are reluctant about speaking up about this issue as they think it makes them look bad as an employee. However, it does not make you unprofessional or weak, it just makes you look like you are prioritising your family as much as work.
Coming up with a flexible schedule can benefit your employer just as much as it benefits you. Thanks to technology, these days it’s possible to do a lot of work from home. This means employers are much more open to letting their employees do a few days a week away from the office.
You can also ask to adjust the hours you work, either lengthening your hours on certain days or agreeing to come in earlier or stay later– whichever suits your schedule.
If your employer cannot offer much in the way of flexibility, you can always strategically choose your vacation days, allowing you to spend a few days at the end of each month at home with the family.
5. Invest In Excellent Childcare
One thing that’s going to give you peace of mind when you’re stuck in the office is knowing you have excellent, reliable childcare in place. So, ask friends, family or colleagues for references of nannies and/ or agencies they may have used. Whether they will be living with you or just working part-time, be sure to interview the nannies to see which one would get along with your family.
Additionally, there are numerous daycare centres in Singapore that you can bring your kid to while at work. More and more of these centres are popping up in the Central Business District (CBD) Area which allows parents to visit their children during lunch breaks and fetch them before heading home.
6. Plan Fun Family Time Whenever You Can
When you do spend a lot of time working, it becomes even more crucial to ensure you schedule lots of special family time. This can be done both at weekends and during the week.
If time is limited, such as on weeknights, you can do something as simple as a family movie night. At weekends, go out for the day or have a family picnic. Even if your little one is too young for a lot of activities, just you being there with them will help you to bond with one another.
Family time is precious so try to come up with regular fun activities you can do together when you’re not at work.
7. Consider Switching Jobs
Now this tip isn’t going to apply to everyone. However, if you’ve tried everything and your job just isn’t allowing you to develop a healthy and happy work/life balance, it could be time to look for another job.
Do not stay in a job just because it’s paying more. If it makes you constantly stressed and is affecting your family dynamic, it will eventually lead to burnout. It may also cause resentment, dissatisfaction and arguments between you and your partner.
It’s not easy to leave a job, especially if you’ve spent years trying to make something of yourself in the same company. However, being a mother is often about selfless sacrifice. Finding a new job that can help you achieve the work-life balance we all crave.
Instead of going for MNCs, try finding jobs with start-ups and SMEs; these companies typically offer better flexibility than universal companies. Thus, enabling women to develop a healthy work-life balance.
8. Switch off
After hustling all day, it is vital that you get enough time to rest and sleep. Being a superwoman is difficult; to avoid burnouts, recharge your batteries each night.
As busy as your life may be, it’s important that you still find time for activities you enjoy; things that sustain your passion. In the long run, these will give you energy, rather than deplete you, and ensure you’ll have more time, energy and enthusiasm for everyone else in your life the rest of the time. Getting good quality sleep each night is essential for good mental health too.
9. Spend Time & Communicate with Your Partner
Always remember that you are not in this alone. Your partner is right there with you. Taking care of your relationship with your partner is also essential in achieving that work-life balance. As daily communication will also help them understand the difficulties you face and in return, they can advise on how to help (vice versa).
Fostering this relationship will bring back some excitement to the marriage or partnership and help you to “check in” with each other. For some couples, going out on a monthly date can be difficult and expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on each other. Have an indoor date night by cooking a nice meal together or even sitting together with a glass of wine and talking.
10. Stay Connected During the Day
Stay connected with your children even when you’re not together. For moms with younger kids, consider recording yourself talking or singing on a video or record your voice reading along to a children’s book. If you’re going to miss or be late to an older child’s event, give her something special in the morning, like a good-luck charm or a personal note.
Look into options for filming the event so you can watch it later and not miss a moment. Hang pictures of yourself and your partner so the kids can see your faces. During your breaks at work, call your child; hearing her can help you get through a rough day, and she’ll be comforted to know you’re near.
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