Work-Life Balance: The Busy Mum’s Guide

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It’s no secret: Raising healthy and happy kids is a full-time job, and adding paid employment into the mix can make it feel as though there simply aren’t enough hours in a day!

Many family lifestyle bloggers preach the importance of compartmentalising family and work commitments, but this isn’t possible for all working women.

Mums working in media and related sectors aren’t just bound by their child’s routine, but an unpredictable 24-hour news cycle as well.

This overlap between work and life can lead to mothers feeling under pressure or falling victim to “mothers’ guilt.”

All mums put unreasonably high expectations on themselves, but it isn’t always possible to make sure the laundry is put away, dinner is ready, the kids’ homework is done and work deadlines are met. It is, however, possible to make it work.

It’s All About Routine

It is impossible to over-emphasise the importance of a good routine. Routines ensure everything that must be done in a day gets done, even when outlying circumstances change.

A morning routine that involves getting ready for work/school/child care, as well as tackling one or two of those pesky chores sets a household up for daily success.

A bedtime routine that involves preparing for the next day as much as possible reduces early morning stress and gets you closer to those ever-elusive eight hours of sleep.

Sunday afternoons spent scheduling the upcoming week and getting some life admin out of the way reduces stress and eliminates surprise appointments, meetings, and schedule clashes. It also allows a family to find non-negotiable time to spend together.

For those mums whose work schedules fluctuate, using a slightly quieter day to “do double” can reduce stress on busier days in a week. Cooking an extra-large dinner and freezing the leftovers or running through an extra couple of loads of washing can make all the difference down the track.

Ultimately, though, it is important to create a routine that works specifically for your family. This might not look like anyone else’s, and that’s OK!

All Systems Go

While the availability of technology means work is always at an arm’s reach, it also provides countless tools to assist with the smooth running of a household.

Most grocery stores offer online delivery services, saving both money and hours spent trawling the aisles of your local store.

Online shopping also offers a godsend for those one-off busy periods, like back-to-school shopping or birthdays.

The ability to “set and forget” things like alarms and meal plans – or using affordable household technology – streamlines your routine and system and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

If your children have a mobile phone, creating a family group chat helps everyone stay informed of changes to the routine and other life updates.

Family life isn’t robotic or automated, but having routines and systems in place helps everything run smoothly, even when a busy work week or emergency appointment pops up.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

While the average working mum might not be living in physical villages, the metaphor continues to hold true. A solid support system for both you and your family reduces the number of stressful situations you might incur and helps you to deal with them when they do arise.

A working mum’s support system can include anyone, such as partners, close friends and relatives, quality child care providers, or hired help. The support system should be able to make life a little easier for the working mum, allowing her to spend precious time with her children without feeling overwhelmed.

Research suggests multiple influences in a child’s formative years, including those found in child care, are beneficial for their socialisation and general development. A study out of the University of Wollongong found a mother’s working hours when her children are young have no negative effect on their values and attitudes as a teenager.

As children get older, they become very helpful members of the support system! Suddenly your little one can provide an extra pair of hands around the house and assist with the family’s morning and evening routines.

Researchers at the University of Mississippi suggest children who help around the house are better prepared professionally, physically, and academically later in life. It kills two birds with one stone: your house stays clean and your children come to understand how their actions directly affect members of their community.

Time Out

In your routine, it is important to allow some time for yourself. This helps you recharge and get your personal needs sorted, in turn helping you becoming a better mother and employee.

Self-care can include something as small as reading a few pages of a book before bed or taking some time on a weekend between drop-offs and pick-ups to talk with friends or focus on a hobby.

Spending time working on your own needs is proven to lift your spirits and increase feelings of calm. This directly influences how your household operates and makes the balance between work and motherhood that much easier.

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