Being a parent is challenging. But adding 40 hours a week to an already demanding schedule can seem almost impossible at times. When a full-time mom (or any parent, for that matter, but we’re just addressing moms for now…) clocks out of work, her day may seem like it’s just beginning. From toddlers melting down, to rides to baseball practice, to helping kids with homework, to housework and making dinner… she may wonder when there’s ever any “me” time?
A disclaimer. All moms (and dads too) struggle to find “me” time regardless of whether or not they fall in the SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) category. So, rather than getting into a proverbial war of how to operationalize “working,” the focus of this particular post will be moms who are balancing paid employment with parenthood.
More moms than ever are in the workforce. According to AmericanProgress.org, women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom who is also a working mother. Being both a mother and an employee may present women with a battle between the roles of nurturer and professional. So, is there a healthy way to balance the two? Quite simply, yes.
The first thing to realize is that you’re human. And that means you can’t do it all. You will need to let go of some things (because there are only 24 hours in a day!). And no, sleep shouldn’t be one of the things you let go of! Your day will be a lot less stressful if you cut yourself some slack and focus on the things that matter most. Examine your obligations (and those of your family members) and realistically prioritize.
Just like planning meetings and appointments at work, it’s important organize and plan at home. Set a daily schedule to help things at home run more smoothly. If you have a co-parent, be sure to coordinate who is doing what, when. And don’t forget the kids as you delegate! As developmentally appropriate, children should also have assigned responsibilities that they are expected to do around the house.
Remember, parenting is about quality, not necessarily quantity! Make the free time you have with your kids count. Sometimes that may mean just talking with them about their day on the ride home from soccer practice. Do things as a family, and cherish those moments. Also, explain to your children why you work. Helping them better understand what you do at work, and how your job contributes to your family’s overall well being, will foster family cohesion.
We all know that parenting (for any parent) is the hardest job in the world! But it can also be the most rewarding. The days are long, but the years are quick. Find a balance that works for you, your career, and your family.
Dillaway, H. & Pare, E. (2008) Locating mothers: How cultural debates about stay-at- home versus working mothers define women and home. Journal of Family Issues,
Litsa (2014). Working Full-Time and Raising a Child? Here’s how to pull it off though! One Chic Mom. Retrieved from http://www.onechicmom.com/read.asp?nid=1616&article=Working%20FullTime%20AND%20Raising%20a%20Child?%20Here%C2%92s%20How%20to%20Pull%20it%20Through
Written by: Nada Elhertani, Project Manager, Child and Family Learning Network