Whether you go into an office, work from home, or maintain a mix of both, being a working mom is a juggling act. On the surface, we’re physically moving from tasks like meetings and memos to pick up and playtime. But we’re also mentally toggling between dealing with co-workers and clients to spending quality time with our family. Even while we feel grateful to be “doing it all,” it can feel like we’re doing none of it well. The worst part? Feeling preoccupied during the rare free time we do have with our kids.
The key for any working mom is to maintain healthy boundaries. “Setting healthy boundaries helps us find a balance between [work life and family life].” According to CT-based family therapist Caitlyn Dunn, LCSW, a contributor for The Local Moms Network, “when we can set healthy boundaries, we can stay true to ourselves and are not ‘gobbled up’ by others’ needs, from work to home.” Here are some ways for working mothers to create boundaries and as a result feel more present at home, more efficient at work, and happier overall:
Leave your laptop at the office when possible, or simply keep your phone out of reach when you’re with your kids, especially at the end of the day. Simply separating work time from family time (at least physically) can go a long way in managing that work-life balance.
If you always answer work calls when you’re with your kids or respond to emails before bedtime, your co-workers, boss, and clients will expect that. If you must, log on after you put the kids to sleep—but let everyone know that from the time you leave the office until 8 pm (or whenever bedtime is at your house), you are offline.
The biggest roadblock in front of every remote working mom? Getting distracted. If you’re at home, chances are you’re going to get distracted with laundry, lunches, or whatever else is on your parental to-do list. If the weather cooperates, an impromptu playground adventure (or even just dinner outside) can help you put the juggle on hold and stay in the moment with your kids.
Just like a work schedule, a mom schedule can help you stay organized and efficient. If you can arrange to work from home on Fridays and put in a load of laundry/sneak out to do the grocery shopping at lunch, this can help ensure your weekends are about quality time, not chores and errands. During the week, packing lunches the night before can help you squeeze in some playtime, reading, or cuddles in the morning before school drop-off.
Let’s be real—truly having it all is difficult. No one can do everything on their own. Prioritize, and consider outsourcing anything that someone else can do as well as you can, if it is within your budget. For instance, grocery delivery, dry cleaning (instead of ironing), and cleaning services can help you clear the decks so you can focus on your kids. The key is choosing the chores you don’t love and/or that don’t help you connect with your child. So if you and your kids love cooking together, by all means, cook dinner—just outsource something else.
No one can do everything on their own.
Just like outsourcing, this tip is about choosing what’s important—and letting the rest go. Ditch the working mom guilt! If your car is a mess, you serve the occasional frozen meal, or you put off finishing the baby book until the baby is out of diapers, so be it. What’s important is being there for your kids emotionally, feeling invested in your work, and having the mental and physical capacity for both.
Last of all? Remember: nobody has this totally figured out, but we’re all in this together.
This story was contributed by our partner, The Local Moms Network, a digital media company consisting of 90 hyper-local sites nationwide, all run for and by moms in order to “give moms the gift of time” through resources, guides, events and more. Follow them on Instagram @thelocalmomsnetwork.
Want to read more about life as a working mom? On HeyMama you can find out how working moms find time for fitness, learn about companies redefining the role of working moms, and discover the best ways to avoid working mom burnout.