Being a working mother is no easy task. Between juggling work, kids, and everything else in between, it can be hard to find time for yourself. Even if you have a partner to help take care of the kids, chances are you’re still doing most of the cooking and cleaning, says working mother Desiree Peterkin Bell. It can feel like there’s never enough time or energy to get anything done.
Long hours at work and parenting duties can keep you feeling torn between the two lives. You might feel like one area is always falling behind as you try to juggle both. But if you're able to prioritize, make time for yourself, find your balance, and surround yourself with supportive people, it will be much easier to gain balance as a working mother.
Learn to Prioritize
Knowing what is most important to you at any given time and making sure your focus is there is a great way to start achieving balance, says Desiree Peterkin Bell.
For example, if you have an important meeting in the morning but later that day you have to get ready for your daughter's school play, it’s in your best interest to completely block off the morning to focus on your meeting. That way, you have time to focus on your work without interference, which means you can get to your daughter’s play and be fully present without worrying about work.
Some days, you may only have the bandwidth to focus on one or two major events. Just make sure that you’re prioritizing what matters most and delegating what you can.
I believe in work/life integration not balance, Balance means 50/50.
That means everything will be equal every single day. That means holding ourselves up to unrealistic standards, which will only make you unhappy.
It’s not about balance but integration.
I remember when I was on my way home to put my daughter to bed, when she was 7. My team called me and told me that I had to turn around and come back because I was needed on sight of a major disaster. There had been an Amtrak derailment and lives were lost. I called my daughter, who was crying and told her that I loved her and I had to make sure that someone else's mommy was safe. I didn't see her for the next 24 hours, but that was my job. It was that night that I realized this is not a 50/50 life.
I would also say to make sure your kids know what you do. My daughter travels with me when she can and she has met congressional members, Presidents, world leaders and CEOs. She had a chance to meet and speak with Former first lady Michelle Obama and that changed her life because she saw someone she really admired.
Make Time for Yourself
It's easy to get caught up in what you're doing and forget to take care of yourself. But when you don't take care of yourself, it puts more burden on those around you as well, warns Desiree Peterkin Bell. Taking the time you need for yourself will help you be more emotionally stable, which allows you to continue giving to those around you.
Remember, the first rule of caretaking is always “Take care of yourself first.”
Take a break from work at lunch or after work and do something that is relaxing and calming. If your job allows for it, take a midday nap and refresh. Go for a walk during your lunch hour or just sit outside with a cup of coffee in the morning. Give yourself an hour each day where you can do anything - read a book, watch Netflix, or just veg out with no responsibilities.
Don't Compare Yourself Advises Desiree Peterkin Bell
Don't compare yourself to other women or even your past self, says Desiree Bell. Remember that you are doing the best you can with the time and resources you have. You may not be able to do it all, but that doesn't mean that you should stop trying.
Don't let others discourage you from following your dreams and don't be shy if people tell you that juggling a career and motherhood just isn't possible. It may not be possible for them, but you can make any life for yourself that you want.
Surround Yourself with Supportive People
The reality is that you can't do it by yourself, says Desiree Peterkin Bell. Raising children and living life really does take a village. No one person has all the answers or the resources to accomplish a major goal on their own.
As a mother who operates in a space of movements, politics, policy and Social Justice, I wanted to be part of something that could be a resource for other mothers and other parents. For those parents who are interested in teaching and sharing stories of resilience, hope and being civically engaged, this is the book for you, LOSE THE CAPE.
Specifically for moms but not just for mothers, this book is about the importance of women using their voice and the importance of raising children who know how to use theirs.
You need people in your life who support you and are willing to help when needed. Surrounding yourself with supportive people will not only make your journey easier but will also make it more enjoyable!