How was your day?
Let us imagine the usual day of a working mother’s life. Your day starts early. You prepare the breakfast, get your kids ready for school, and rush to the office, all the while keeping a tab of the things missing at the home front to order on the way to the office.
The office is hectic but you need to keep a watch if the kids are back on time, and if they took their lunch or not, all the while making sure the excel documents and the presentation are perfect. The official time to wrap up is most probably six, but as you finish your chores by 6:30 and try to leave in a jiffy, the judgmental eyes of your colleagues follow you through the exit door. The evening traffic is terrible but you are helpless.
Some follow-up calls and pending office engagements keep you busy through the route and before you can bat your eyes, your second shift of duty has begun – helping the kids with their homework, deciding the dinner menu, the next day’s lunch menu, separating the clothes for laundry, and so on. The struggle continues till bedtime, by then you are too wound to sleep. Then, before you realize the next day arrives with pomp and gaiety.
If the above scenario describes your daily routine, then congratulations, you are a part of the exhausted-working-mother tribe. Burnout, anxiety, and the trap of guilt and self-doubt are your daily companions. Yes, I know the homemakers don’t have them any easier and today’s blog is dedicated to the tips for the overworked mothers to attempt to do everything while staying mentally healthy.
Work-life Balance of a Working Mother
Working mothers are often expected to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work. Society scrutinizes her each step and passes judgement. The majority still believe childcare is primarily the duty of the mothers. But while working in an office they should pour in more than their male counterparts to prove their worth. This impossible situation is the root of gender inequalities in the workplace.
In the quest to become the perfect employee and the perfect wife and mother, women often end up stretching themselves beyond the limit. The double responsibilities of work and home can mean more stress, which can prompt everything from insomnia and lowered immunity to mood swings and weight gain. The result runs havoc on her physical and mental health. In today’s blog I’m going to share some tips that I use to keep my sanity and have learned from others. I will be happy if it can help even one strong mother in balancing their two worlds.
Tip 1 – Stop trying to be a superwoman
Embrace your humane limitations with grace. I have elaborated on this particular topic in the blog THE SUPER WOMAN TROPE – A PATHWAY TO BURNOUT. In short, learn to seek help and delegate jobs. Papa may dress the little one in somewhat ‘odd fashion’, but let it go sometimes and share the load. Reframe your mantra from ‘I can do it all’ to ‘trying my best.’ Modify your expectations and accept your limitations. Be realistic in setting goals for yourself and your kids to keep life simpler and happy. This includes your professional goals too. Always remember life is not supposed to be perfect but we can make it a happy one.
Tip 2 – Build guilt-free ME time
Indulge in that hobby you like, share gossip with your friends, read that book you left, or in short indulge yourself. I know it is easier said than done but, try to squeeze out at least 30 minutes exclusively for yourself. Your happiness is paramount to the well-being of your family and job. Taking time for your interests should not result in guilt. Remember, a happy mother raises happy children.
Tip 3 – Choose your environment wisely
Cut off the toxic, judgmental friends and relatives. Always remember you have the best intention in your mind for your child and career. The one who is commenting doesn’t walk in your shoes, so learn to retort.
Having said that, choose your battles wisely. Avoid those arguments that are futile. A toxic environment unnecessarily drains useful energy. Try to stay away from those office politics and never give any outsider the chance to ruin your mental peace.
While on this topic, let me share another personal anecdote. Social media is nowadays an integral part of our environment. It is a wonderful place to gather information and create virtual groups of like-minded people. But, if you see social media is eating away much of your constructive time by unnecessarily pressuring you to compete with peers and the whole host of the perfect videos and photos are overwhelming you, restrict your use. Remember images are not always depicting the truest picture.
Tip 4 – Take Regular Breaks
Take a break regularly. Both your body and mind need rest. Mothers often feel guilty about taking breaks from their duties whether at home or office. While they feel ‘doing nothing is a waste of time in practicality some ‘wasted’ time helps the mind to rejuvenate. 10 minutes of doing nothing can do wonders to your already clustered mind and helps you to see beyond the reigning chaos.
Tip 5 – Health is wealth.
Never ignore your precious treasure. The kid might be throwing tantrums, too busy to wrap up the morning schedule, and a hectic day beckons but never skip that breakfast. It is an essential part of your diet. Also, the daily diet should be as healthy as possible. Avoid junk food and keep fruits as an integral component. Another thing that has helped me to find a work-life balance is fixing the time of meals. A fixed routine brings discipline which in turn helps to keep other duties in tow.
Exercise should be another important part and parcel of your life. A healthy body is the first step to a healthy mind. Do not have time to do exercise? Yes, I hear you. Here, I can share what I have done to overcome this obstacle. I take a shuttle to commute. But the bus stop is around 10 minutes from my home and office. I never take any rickshaw or auto for the same but, instead walk that distance. In this way, I gave been able to include 20-25 minutes of brisk walking in my daily routine. Also walking has been beneficial to free my mind and it is usually during such walks plot ideas visit my story writer brain.
Tip 6 – Share your woes
Talk. Instead of repressing your negative emotion, share it with someone you trust. Letting out things helps to recharge your mental health.
Maintain a journal. Journaling is one of the most powerful tools to help you to outpour your feelings.
Create a mommy group and help each other. Socialize with friends even if that means chatting with them on WhatsApp. In the burden of duties do not forget to spend time with your friends or your partner. Occasionally plan a coffee date, a small get-together, or whatever can help you to spend some blissful hours away from the shackle of duties.
Life as a working mother can be overwhelming but learn not to allow that feeling to overpower your efficient self. Most importantly be kind to yourself, count your blessings, and look forward to quality time with your children. Start with small steps. Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings and embrace positivity.
Note – This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.
Thank you so much for raising awareness to this issue and for your tips. These are really important guidelines to create more balance and help moms prevent burnout.
Thank you so much for reading the blog. I am glad it could resonate with you.
On the home front don’t hesitate to hire a help. Hiring a good nanny is very easy in India because of the overall income disparity. But even if you are in Europe or us, consider this an investment on yourself. Even if you have parents/ in-laws staying with you, having a paid help for all the chores related to the infant/toddler goes a long way to ensure mental and physical health of the mother. While doing so an arrangement where atleast one member of the house is present all the time with the child is desirable. Be it alternate wfh for the parents, or the grandparents staying home. While grandparents are often more than eager to manage the child themselves, i wouldn’t advise to agree with that.
I can’t agree more. Nannies are saviour of mental and physical health of mothers. I do not have the luxury of using the help of my in-laws or parents. So I use cctv camera.
And I also agree we should not appoint grandparents as primary alternate caregiver. It is not their duty to raise our children.
Working woman’s job is tough. I have seen my mom do it and have done it myself too. Earlier as a kid I used to wonder how could she be everywhere at the same time. As an adult I realised what all it took from her. She never cribbed and so I learnt never to crib. We are working and doing everything because it makes us happy. But it would be even better if the society stopped being so judgmental when it comes to working mothers and allow them to make human mistakes.
Thank you. We need to discuss the success stories for our tribe. May be then women would not think about leaving a flourishing career after baby