Balancing A Career AND Family AS A Woman
When Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer, a 37-year old expectant mother, as CEO, it was hailed as a seminal moment for working moms – that it really is possible for women to “have it all.” The problem is Mayer’s situation doesn’t remotely reflect the real world working mom’s face in trying to balance career and family. Most working moms don’t earn an eight-figure salary with all of the trappings that come with it. Many women are struggling to pay off their student debt as they work themselves up the career ladder, while keeping their family happy. With all due respect to Ms. Mayer, for most working moms, juggling a career and family life is hard as hell.
Today, women make up more than half of all workers in the U.S. and 40 percent of families have a mom that is a working mother. Setting aside the physical demands of juggling work and family, which can be brutal, it’s the guilt and stress of having to divide their attention between the two that tears at most women. Women know going in that it’s not supposed to be easy. But, there are ways to find just the right balance between career and family to at least make it all more fulfilling.
Stop with the Guilt
Sometimes when you’re at work, it’s hard not to think about being away from your kids, which can bring up feelings of guilt. It’s OK to think about your kids, but why not think about how the work you’re doing is helping to improve their lives. The money you bring in helps your family to afford a better life for your children. It’s important to come to terms with choices and focus on priorities in the here and now. While you’re at work, you focus on being the best employee you can be to open up opportunities for yourself and, while you’re at home you focus on being the best mom you can be. If you do that, you’ll feel better about yourself and the choices you have to make.
Ease into the Mornings
Nothing causes more stress than chaotic mornings – making sure the kids are showered and dressed while getting their breakfast and packing their lunches. Both parents and the kids should have a role in planning and organizing for each school day. Each night the kids should lay out their clothes and repack the backpacks. Lunches can be packed and breakfast planned the night before. One parent helps the kids get dressed while the other prepares breakfast. This will give you more time to organize yourself and enjoy your coffee while spending breakfast time with the kids.
Create a Family Calendar
Between both parents’ work schedule, school events, and extracurricular activities, the days and weeks can turn into a blur. Create a family calendar that organizes everyone’s schedule and prioritizes events so that no child is left behind. Google Calendar makes it easy to log everyone’s schedule and share them on your smartphones. Reviewing the family calendar should be a weekly event involving everyone so there won’t be any surprises.
Touch Base During the Day
Make a point each day to check in with your children. A brief call during a break at work is enough to lift your children’s spirits. Even better, if your children are technologically inclined, you can Facetime them. You can increase your presence by leaving your kids special notes or a recording. Every touch keeps you and your kids close together.
Make Time for Family
Making time for your partner and your kids is critically important. Create activities that fit into your schedule so everyone can plan accordingly. If your schedule is limited, plan at least one family night with a board game or movies. When you’re with your family, focus on what’s going on in your kids’ lives and avoid talking about work or checking your email.
Schedule a Date Night with Your Partner
By the time you’ve scheduled all your family activities around your work schedule, it’s easy to forget about finding time to spend with your partner. Yes, that has to be scheduled as well. In fact, scheduling a date night creates more anticipation and something to look forward to once or twice a month. It doesn’t have to be an expensive night out, just time together without the kids to focus on each other.
Take Care of Yourself
Find a time each week – even if it’s just an hour or two – just for yourself. You need time to clear your head and relax. A good book, a hot bubble bath or walk through the park seem almost like self-indulgences when there is so much to do, but they are essential to maintaining the even keel you need to balance your career and family.