Life as a working mom isn’t easy—hold on a sec…
Toilet paper running low. Birthday cards that need to be sent on time. Potty training. Supporting my husband during his PhD candidacy exams. 5 am workouts in the living room and 6 am quiet times for centering. Planning the family vacation. Planning next week’s meals.
As I was saying, life as a working mom or a work-from-home mom can be stressful. There’s just so much—wait, sorry…
Donations for the Salvation Army. Renting a carpet cleaner. Painting the blank canvas that I built six months ago. Quality outings with my son. Date nights with my husband. Taking the car in for an oil change.
… Oh yeah, and...
Scheduling a yearly physical. Visiting extended family. Finalizing childcare for the fall. Checking in on my brother and sister-in-law after the loss of their baby. Clothes shopping for the family. Planning for a future baby. Paying bills. Teaching lessons in kindness and shoe-tying...
Whoa. Even just writing it all down is enough to make me dizzy. Yet, somehow, all that is supposed to fit around the new product launch, meetings with my supervisor and coworkers, payroll that needs to go out, project management, answering emails, hashing out strategies, delegating tasks, and so on, and so on.
A lot. Being a working mom is a lot.
As a woman who works full-time in a fulfilling career and equally full-time as a mom, homemaker, wife, friend, daughter, Christ-follower, etc., my days are full to the brim.
You may think this article is going to be about how to balance everything and also get some you-time into your week. You may think there’s a three-point list for making things easier and smoother. Do this, don’t do that.
Nope. There is no list. There is no “best way” to do things.
If there was a secret formula out there, a professional course on juggling so we can be awesome at everything we do, I’m sure we all would have taken it by now.
While there are plenty of habits you can replace or methods you can follow to make things a bit easier, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But there is a mindset that everyone should adopt to stay sane—and maybe rack up a few more points in the win column.
Instead of three handy tips, let’s just talk about two words: Focus and Intentionality.
Being good at what you do starts with a strong mind.
It is too easy for a mom’s brain to be all over the place. When your mental load is so heavy, it is nearly impossible to focus—unless you’ve practiced the skill.
You may have heard the saying, “Men are like waffles, and women are like spaghetti.” For women, it’s a gift and a curse that everything intersects. While at the office (and home), we have to work very hard to keep the many strands of life from tangling.
If you feel scattered or out of balance, it’s probably time to start channeling waffle-energy. When we focus on the moment—the people, situations, and objects immediately before us—we reduce our distractions and stress-causing thoughts. We get more out of our time and feel better about it, too.
Develop your practice of staying present by creating a system to catch intruding thoughts and store them for later. I always keep a notebook nearby. Whenever something important but unrelated invades my mental space, I write it down and let it go. You might try a voice recording app, reminders, or a whiteboard. Use whatever works for you.
It’s really hard to be fully present. Just ask a Buddhist monk: they spend their whole lives working at it full-time. If you find yourself thinking of the new product launch while you’re playing with your kid, or remembering errands while you’re developing your sales strategy, just jot down those thoughts and get back to it. Be kind and patient with yourself in the process!
Because our lives are so cluttered, we also have to be ruthlessly intentional about what we use each moment for.
We all read a million articles about self-care. I don’t disagree with them. But not everything that people call “self-care” is really self-care—nourishing, revitalizing, essential. A lot of it is just plain ole life clutter.
A year ago, I’d had enough of Facebook, so I left. As my work commitments have increased, I am incredibly grateful that I cut that time-sucking habit out of my life. If I hadn’t, I’d be wasting time checking for likes instead of meal prepping for the week.
It’s now a practice of mine to evaluate every area in my life and ask, “Is this profitable for my health, my family’s well being, or reaching my goals?”
A lot of things that are not inherently bad—like Instagram, sleeping in, or painting my nails—can be cut, either for life or temporarily. I’m not perfect; I make plenty of less-than-stellar decisions. But now, at least, I’ve developed a sensitivity to the choices I make.
Evaluate your own life through the lens of intentionality. What are a few things you could cut and the world wouldn’t end? Entertainment and social media are the obvious places to start.
Start slow, cut two or three things. Maybe pass some of your responsibilities to your partner, family member, or friend.
Then, choose to add or expand one or two things that are more profitable or life-giving—the workout you didn’t have time for, thirty extra minutes of thoughtfully replying to emails, writing an encouraging note to a friend. Watch as little moments of intentionality make your life more well-rounded, profitable, and vital
There is no way around your day-to-day stress.
Your responsibilities as a parent, professional, spouse, and humanitarian are going to make you very busy, and you will often feel overwhelmed. These are the facts of life.
But if you can take an honest look at your everyday choices—whether they are focused or wandering, intentional or indulgent—you will find you actually have more room for good things.
Good doesn’t mean easy. Doing the hard, unfamiliar things is ultimately what allow us to live more simply, with more connection and less stress.