Balance is key. It’s all about moderation. Set boundaries. You can juggle everything at once. How many times have you heard these pieces of advice about work life balance?
The reality is that being a working mom is not easy, and every new mom struggles with balancing motherhood and career sooner or later.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned mom with years of experience, it seems like balancing your mom life and your professional life never gets easier. You want to cherish every moment, but as the kiddos grow, so do your responsibilities in and out of the family.
Work life balance looks different for everyone. It’s especially different for work at home moms (WAHM). Many moms are bringing home the big bucks from their living rooms as bloggers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and so on.
Whatever your main hustle or side hustle is, balancing your many roles is important for everyone around you. Here’s how to improve your work life balance when all you want to do is get caught up on your never-ending to-do list.
What is Work Life Balance?
There’s some criticism that work life balance simply doesn’t exist. The theory is that being a mom is too chaotic, messy and sporadic to ever get a grip on things. There will always be more diapers to change, more laundry to fold, and more homework to check.
Is this pessimistic or realistic? That’s up to you to decide, but one thing is true — there’s always more to do, and you’ll never truly be done. This doesn’t mean your life is out of control, though. It just means you have to work harder at managing your time and improving your efficiency.
How you manage your responsibilities is the balance between your work and personal life.
Accepting the reality that juggling a million tasks and trying to achieve perfection when that’s unrealistic is the first step to improve your work life balance.
Be honest with yourself: You are happier and healthier when you do your best at #momlife and #bosslife.
Work life balance is all up to you. For some moms, it’s checking work emails during playtime. For others, it’s NOT checking work emails during playtime. Finding YOUR balance will help you maximize these two important parts of your life.
Can New Moms Achieve a Healthy Work Life Balance?
By your second baby, you have this whole mom thing in the bag. You’ve experienced the growing pains as a new mom, and you are full of tips, tricks, and secrets that only seasoned moms know about.
But new moms — it’s a whole different story. As a new mom, being both a professional and a parent will come with a new set of challenges.
You start asking yourself a bunch of questions:
- How do you balance motherhood and career?
- How soon do mothers go back to work?
- Do babies suffer when mothers return to work?
- Should I become a stay at home mom for my baby?
- Should mothers work outside of the home?
You’ll get a different answer to each of those questions from every person you ask. If you’ve decided to return to work — outside of the home or as a WAHM — your career will inevitably be different than it was before you have kids.
Maneuvering the professional world as a woman without children vs. a woman supporting a family are totally separate. Both are valid, but juggling work life balance as a mom has extra layers.
Though it’s difficult and the journey won’t be linear, new moms can achieve a healthy work life balance. Your confidence may waiver, but you CAN do this.
Work Life Balance Tips for New Moms
Your maternity leave is coming to an end, and you’re in that fragile stage of your newborn baby’s life. You don’t want to leave your baby for several hours of the day, but you have to support your growing family. Here’s how to go back to work with confidence and juggle it all as a new mom.
1. Don’t feel guilty for going back to work
This is your friendly PSA that mom shaming has to stop. As mothers, we have the power to connect with each other on a deeper level than ever before. We understand each other’s plight, and we share the same core motivators.
However, there are a million and one different ways to be a mom. The battle between working moms vs. stay at home moms has to stop.
So, to all the working moms out there — don’t feel guilty for returning to work. Your job as a mother is to provide for your children. For many of us, that means clocking in and making that money while baby is with a responsible caretaker.
It’s okay to feel sad or confused, but the last thing you should feel is guilt. Millions of women go back to work after having their babies.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of moms with children under the age of 18 are employed. The amount of women in the workforce continues to grow as working women and working moms become the new norm.
Sometimes going to your day job is part of your job as a mom.
2. Leave work at work
It’s hard to unplug and switch from boss lady to mama bear. But one thing that your family will appreciate is leaving your work at work.
This means designating evenings, weekends, holidays, and vacations for family time. You may want to answer your work calls, respond to emails, and get ahead on tomorrow’s workload, but don’t give in. Instead, spend those hours taking advantage of quality time with your babies.
Work life balance is much easier when you work at work and step into mom mode at home. It sounds obvious, but many people blur the lines between the two. We’ve all seen the movies where parents put work before their children, causing their kids to suffer. Unfortunately, these cases aren’t just works of fiction.
Research has shown that children with workaholic parents have a higher likelihood of psychological disorders. Even when the child’s physical needs are met, the lack of emotional nurturing can leave long-lasting effects.
The same is true about leaving your mom jeans at home. Your boss, coworkers, and clientele are there to do business. As much as you want to call home every hour to see how things are going, your work life will be much healthier if you focus on your work tasks.
3. Make the most of early mornings before work
The mornings can be a special time to bond with your babies — especially if you’re co-sleeping with baby — before they go to daycare or school and you go to work. Yes, mornings can be frantic and it may feel like you’re always running late, but this is a good time to start the day on the right track.
Some working moms find it’s helpful to get up earlier to enjoy longer morning hours. If you’re sleep-deprived, this may seem impossible. But the mornings can be a peaceful time to shower without rushing or lay in bed for a few extra minutes without having to do anything.
You can also use the morning as private time for you and your partner. Perhaps the two of you like to chat over a cup of coffee or even work on your love life while the kids are sleeping.
Just because work starts at 9 a.m. doesn’t mean that’s when your day starts. Some working moms get up as early as 5 a.m. to have ample time to spend alone, with their partner, or with their children. However you choose to spend your morning is up to you, but consider setting an earlier alarm to cash in on this precious time.
4. Sit down for family dinner every night
Having a routine work life gives you and your family much-needed structure. Kids need structure, and so do you. Continue that routine with a family dinner every single day. Bottle-fed and breastfed babies can participate, too.
Family dinner is an opportunity to share a healthy meal together and discuss each other’s day. It’s also an opportunity to wind down from your day and transition from work mode to family mode.
You don’t even have to change out of your work clothes yet — that’s the great part of having a work life balance. Some things are going to be unrealistic. If you’re in charge of cooking dinner, pick something quick and easy like a one-dish recipe.
This also gives you something to look forward to throughout your work day.
Another benefit of a routine family dinner is that it gives children much-needed structure. According to child psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour, children need structure more than affection. Of course, they need both and there are many different types of parenting, but establishing rules and routines are part of most parenting styles.
5. Accept help from friends and family
Having reliable childcare while you’re at work is of utmost importance. If you have responsible friends and family who want to help, let them!
Many new parents must rely on childcare centers while they’re at work. Per the Center for American Progress, the average cost of childcare is between $800-$1,230 per month.
The cost of childcare can add a huge financial burden to your budding family, even with a full-time income, so let your support system actually support you. Perhaps the grandparents can watch the kids twice a week so you can pick up an extra shift or enjoy a night out with your partner.
It’s a win-win for everyone!
Support comes in many other forms besides childcare. If all your loved ones can offer is a home-cooked meal a few times a week, that alone can make a huge difference.
6. Split the responsibilities with your partner
If you have a partner to share this crazy journey with you, make sure the responsibilities are split evenly.
While you feed the baby, ask your partner to do the dishes. While you get ready for work, see if they can drop the kids off at daycare. While your partner takes out the trash, you can cross baby bath time off the list.
One challenge that many new parents don’t realize they will face is working together as a team. There may be disagreements, arguments, and conflicts. Psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson recommends the following in a good parenting partnership:
- Open communication and emotional support
- Shared values on life, family, and parental roles
- Fairness across workload stress
- Mutual responsibility of important decisions
- Trust, reliability, and sensibility
You guys are a team, so act like one. Parenting is so much easier when there’s two of you. You’re going to bicker over chores every now and then, but remember that you’re both tired new parents.
7. Go back to work gradually
Depending on your work arrangement, you may be able to ease into the work life balance. See if you can go back part-time and gradually work your way up to full-time. This can help with the arrangement of childcare and allow you to spend more time with your young baby. Plus, half the work means half the work-related stress.
A study on working preferences was conducted over the course of several years. The most recent results showed that 47% of mothers would prefer to work part-time compared to the 32% that would rather work full-time and 20% that would not like to work at all.
Start slow if you can. Being a working mom is not a race, so take an extended maternity leave if you’re in the position to. Some moms don’t go back to work for several years after their babies are born. This varies from situation to situation, of course.
Work Life Balance Tips for WAHM
One of the best things in the entire world is spending every precious moment with your babies while they’re still babies! The saying that “they grow up so fast” couldn’t be more true.
One way that working moms are hacking the system is working from home! You get the best of both worlds: Spend as much time with your kiddos as possible and still bring in your share of the income.
However, life as a WAHM is far from glamorous. You may have a baby in one hand and a phone in the other. You may be checking emails while pumping, making business decisions while making dinner, and conducting conference calls hoping that your napping baby doesn’t wake up.
Here’s how to juggle work life balance for moms who work from home.
1. Make a plan and stick to your routine
If you work from home, it’s time to break out your organizational tools: 12-month planner, multicolor gel pens, sticky notes, desk calendar, etc.
The challenge of working from home while raising your children is that it’s so easy to slack off of both because of the other. Creating a plan and sticking to it is one way to improve your work life balance at home.
Even if you work from home, you should still get up at the same time every day, make an effort to exercise, and have designated work hours. Just like you’re strict with your kids following the rules, you have to be strict with yourself.
One of the perks of working at home is the flexibility of your schedule. Even with a set-in-stone routine, you can still leave some wiggle room for your kids’ activities and your mom duties.
2. Have dedicated days off
The rest of the working world has days off. Why shouldn’t you? If you work from home, figure out which days are your days off. Maybe you want the same days off as your partner, or taking off the weekends sounds nice.
According to Mayo Clinic, job burnout is work-related stress that can lead to physical health problems. This can happen to people who work at home because their work and personal lives are so intertwined. It’s recommended that you have ample time away from work-related tasks to avoid this.
The important thing is to take a break so you don’t burn out. This is a crucial part of the work life balance.
3. Get dressed
Technically, you can work from home in your pajamas on the couch with your hair in a bun and slippers on your feet. Should you, though? Probably not. Research has shown that your work attire affects your work performance and self-perception. You don’t have to wear your best pencil skirt and button-down blouse, but something presentable will do.
Getting dressed is a physical way of getting your brain to switch to work mode. Even if it’s just jeans and a t-shirt, it’s better than staying in your robe all day. Plus, you wouldn’t want the mail man to see your bunny slippers.
This also lets your kids know that you mean business, and they have to get dressed for the day, too. Even if you work from home, there’s a good chance you’re going to be doing a million other things, too: running errands, doing chores, making food, and playing with your kids.
You’ll feel a lot better once you get ready for the day, and this makes it easy to transition from one task to the next.
4. Squeeze in a workout wherever possible
Exercise is part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. But new moms always struggle with this because it seems like there’s not enough time to work out. That’s probably true, which is why you have to get creative if you want to lose weight or tone up.
Scientific evidence confirms that married people spend less time exercising than non-married people. The number of children doesn’t correlate to less exercise among parents, but having children under the age of 5 does have a negative association with exercise. Essentially, moms with young babies or kids are less likely to get in their daily movement.
We encourage you to defy the odds! Kids love playing outside, and they love being active. Make exercising something you can do together. If your little one isn’t old enough yet, let them watch you while you do an at-home workout in your living room.
5. Work while your babies are sleeping or playing
The key to an at-home work life balance is getting your work done while the kids are busy. Here are some great times to squeeze in some office hours:
- Early in the morning before the kids wake up
- During playtime or play dates
- While the kids are at music lessons or soccer practice
- At night when the kids are asleep
You know your kids’ schedules best. Allow yourself to be busy while they’re busy — you’ll get so much done during these hours.
6. Connect with other working moms
Whether you work from home or at the office, all working moms could use a helping hand every now and then. If a trusted family member or friend offers help, accept it when you need it. However, your fellow working mamas can also help out.
You can network with other working moms on Facebook groups or try to find someone locally. Perhaps the two of you can switch off babysitting or alternate on dropping the kids off at their activities.
Plus, you can uplift each other as accountability partners. If your at-home businesses are similar, you can even help one another succeed.
7. Take care of your needs, too
Work at home moms often feel like they never leave the house. You raise your kids at home, you workout at home, and you get your business done at home. You probably only leave the house to go to the grocery store!
Plus, moms put everyone else’s needs before their own. Research from 2015 shows that 78% of women with children put off their own health appointments to take care of other family members. They ranked their kids as the number one priority.
I think we all know that this can take a toll on your wellbeing. Every now and then, you deserve to treat yourself. Whether it’s getting a manicure, massage, or facial, getting out of the house to take care of yourself is so important.
This also means regularly scheduling a check-up with your doctor, taking care of your own physical ailments, or maintaining your mental health with counseling.
You can also squeeze in a few minutes of “me time” every day. Starting your day with a 5-minute meditation or doing your skincare routine first thing in the morning are some ways to practice self-care regularly.
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or unrealistic. It just has to be consistent because moms need to be taken care of, too.
It’s Okay if Your Work Life Balance Isn’t Perfect
Throw the idea of perfection out the window. There’s going to be days where you’re late for work or you only completed half of your to-do list. There’s going to be sleepless nights because your baby is cranky or your mind is racing with all of the things you have to do tomorrow.
Just breathe and take it one step at a time.
You may not have a perfect work life balance, and that’s totally okay. As long as you do your best as a working mom, you’ve succeeded.
What’s your secret to balancing motherhood and career? Let us know in the comments below!
Lacey is a professional writer who specializes in health and wellness topics, including vitamins and supplements, the benefits of a plant-based diet, maintaining overall wellness, and more. She’s also obsessed with her two fur babies.