As a new working mom (my son is now 5 months old), I often think about my working mom friends with diverse careers – from entrepreneurs to C-level executives, authors, academics, teachers, doctors, and engineers and think, “How do they do it?” More importantly, I have been pondering “How will I do it?”
There are many wonderful articles and blog posts with working mom tips. But everyone is unique and has a different set of priorities, needs, career expectations and family responsibilities. So how do you find the right fit for you?
I asked some of my friends for their top survival strategies, and here are their top tips:
1. Build a village around you
It’s obvious you can’t do it all, but how do you build a village around you? Probably just before and at your child’s birth, your group of close friends and family will start to surround you. This is when you need to ask for and accept their help. But you shouldn’t limit your village to close friends and family. Join mothers and parenting groups, meet other working moms via playgroups, hire child caregivers and back-up caregivers, build strong relationships with your family doctor and pediatrician.
2. Set realistic goals
Both at work and at home, set realistic goals that you know you can keep. You will avoid a lot of stress by not setting the bar too high such that you can’t meet it. Think carefully about how many hours you can devote each day to each project, and numerically and realistically what you will be able to accomplish. Communicate your goals to your colleagues and your family so that their expectations and your expectations are the same. Keep adjusting your goals if you need to along the way.
3. Focus on the positive
There’s bound to be guilt when you miss school events, can’t be the team coach, or have to skip a family event to finish a project. That’s normal. But the goal is to think about what your job does enable you to provide for your kids – and yourself. And, remember that your kids will always recognize you as their mom and love you unconditionally — even if they’re the ones laying on the guilt trip!
4. Pace yourself
Work hard and be efficient with your time, but make sure you schedule ‘timeouts’ for yourself, adult time with your friends, along with relaxing time with your family. It’s important to take care of yourself and keep healthy and happy – for everyone’s sake.
5. Be ahead of plan
Schedule as much of your day, week, month, and year as possible. Have a plan to meet your goals (cooking big Sunday dinners so there are leftovers, having family events on the weekend). There are also ways to be ahead of your plan – plan out all holiday house cleanings, do school supply shopping in June. This will create some contingency time in case an emergency comes up.
6. Find a network of working moms
A diversity of friends is great, but when work issues arise, it’s great to turn to someone who probably had the same situation last week. This network can also help you laugh and vent at some of the expectations you place on yourself.
What are your top tips for working moms? What survival skills have helped you?