To all the working moms in the world…

Today I’m going to talk about balancing work and family and finding balance in life and I hope this article brings some encouragement for working moms.

I know many moms who work outside the home and I’m one of them myself. Some of these moms work because they have to, others pursue a career. But both kinds have something in common, they face the difficulty of balancing work and family.

I have faced this difficulty in my own life more often than I would have liked to.

Being a working mom means having two jobs, your day one and managing your family. This is said easily but it really involves a not always easy balancing act with business meetings, projects, due dates, and on the other hand, helping with homework, housework, doctor’s appointments, school meetingsā€¦ An endless list of “to do” things.

For me, my family has always been a priority, so I tried to avoid hiring babysitters or leaving the kids at the day-care centers longer than needed. That meant that I had to ask my boss for a continuous working day so that I could pick the kids up from school and be with them in the evening. Asking for this special working condition didn’t make me popular in the company. I ended up having more work than my co-workers did, but I had to do it in less time and earning less money.

So there I was working like crazy from 8 a.m to 4.30 p.m, to rush to school and pick the kids up, to continue with homework help, laundry, cooking dinner…

But if that was the normal routine, imagine how it was when there was a special situation. For example when the kids got sick I had to ask friends for favors to look after them. If they got sick during the night I had to find a babysitter very early in the morning, probably waking her up, bringing the sick kid to her home, dropping the other one at school and then rushing to work facing traffic jams, to be finally punctual and teach a class looking fresh and motivated.

Usually, by the time I came home I was so exhausted that it was hard to start my second job: managing my family.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact it’s a common feeling among working moms. Here’s how my friend Jane expressed her feelings:

“What I like about being a working mom is the fact that when I’m at work, I’m Jane, not mom. I completely delegate the family responsibilities. I close the door behind me and go to work. There, I meet other co-workers, and we often talk and share our problems. It’s somehow like group therapy. What I don’t like about being a working mom is the big amount of work and having the feeling that I can’t accomplish everything I have to do.”

This feelings of frustration can bring much stress not only to the woman herself but to the whole family. If mom is stressed it’s very probably that this stress reaches the rest of the family. The kids can feel it if we’re always in a hurry or we feel so under pressure that we unconsciously set them under pressure too.

On the other hand, if we feel our load is much bigger than our husband’s, or we think we’re sacrificing a lot more than he is we might feel resentful towards him, which can lead into arguments and fights.

This doesn’t mean that not being stressed is one more task in our “to do” list. It rather means that we need to find balance in our lives and take care of ourselves before we take care of others. Would you expect your car to drive without gas or to work properly for years without taking care of it?

We certainly need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally so that we can take care of our family.

You must be thinking, “how am I going to take care of myself if I don’t have time for anything?”

I know, it’s hard. Here are some ideas that might help you. I’m not saying you’ll see results from night to day, but as you start putting this ideas into practice you’ll feel more inner peace and you will have a better quality of life. You will enjoy being a mom and a wife, and specially being yourself:

First thing is: make balancing your life a priority. If your car has run out of gas, are you going to postpone going to the gas station until the tank is totally empty? It’s not a very smart idea, right? Imagine you’re the car now. Are you neglecting yourself? Find some time every day to socialize, exercise and do something rewarding and up-lifting. And most important, enjoy it!

Second: learn how to delegate your housework. You can have your husband and children run some house chores like cooking dinner, cleaning up, doing the dishes, doing the laundry… In this matter I would advise you to assign tasks very diplomatically, rather than complaining about having too much work and expecting help. I’ve noticed men usually build a wall when we complain. Also try to be patient if chores are not done the way you would do them. Sometimes this means we have to loosen up and become more tolerant.

Third: prioritize your tasks. I found myself expecting to do things that weren’t really necessary, like enrolling in too many activities, stressing over cooking super healthy, ironing every single t-shirt. Now before I plan my week I decide if I really want to spend time and energy in a certain task. I ask myself: Is it really going to improve my life or is going to make it more complicated?

Being a mother is not an easy task at this time and being a working mom is even harder. All your efforts to build up your family are not in vain. I really encourage each of you to keep your strength up and feel motivated by the great work we’re doing.