Motherhood is a rewarding but exhaustive round-the-clock job, but I see you, mamas, out there breadwinning too.
Due to the rising cost of childcare and lack of paid maternity leave and pro-family policies — but also because they want to — more women than ever are choosing to work from home. According to a Pew study, 71 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are labor force participants; 65 percent of those are women with very young children.
Pew also reports that 56 percent of working moms say balancing job and family responsibilities is difficult.
If you’re one of the 44 percent who doesn’t think so, bless you, Superwoman. But, as a member of the 56 percent of moms who are struggling to balance it all, I’ve come up with some strategies that make it possible to juggle your career with family life, and kick ass — most of the time — at both.
Do the worst, first.
That to-do list is daunting, I know — but you’ve gotta start somewhere. Pick the hardest or most dreaded tasks and get them out of the way first when you have the most energy. By the time you’re approaching burn-out, the remaining items will be a breeze compared to what you’ve already accomplished, and you can end your day on a positive note with the things you most enjoy.
Avoid time-sucking technology.
Check emails only twice in a day — at the beginning and end of your work day — so you can respond in batches and avoid getting distracted mid-project. Satiate yourself with one short break for social media, and otherwise avoid the abyss at all costs. If possible, delete the apps from your phone too.
Establishing clear, honest communication with your boss, coworkers, clients and family members from the get-go ensures that everyone knows what to expect from you and what is expected of them.
If you know you need more time to complete a project — let your boss or client know! If your baby kept you up all night and you’re not going to make that 7 a.m. conference call, be honest about why. Talk to your spouse and other caretakers about what you need from them to be the most productive during your work time.
Be kind to yourself.
Imagine if we all spent as much time being productive as we did judging ourselves. OH WAIT, that’s possible. Do what you gotta do and don’t waste time feeling bad about it. You’re human and you’re doing the best you can.
If that means babywearing while you’re crunching numbers, so be it. If your daughter is next to you on the couch with the iPad having a sing-a-long with Moana, stick your headphones in and get on with it!
It’s awesome to have a set, structured schedule — in fact, you should aim for that — but know that most days, things will not go as planned. You’ve got to be able to adapt and redirect. Always be ready with a backup plan. Today may not be the day to get the presentation done, but I’ll bet you can read that entire annual report while your baby nurses like there’s no tomorrow.
Say “yes” to delegating.
Optimize your time by outsourcing jobs other people can do for you, for less opportunity cost. It may be totally worth it to hire an accountant or someone to clean your house if it means you can spend more time engaging potential clients or honing a valuable skill.
But this extends beyond work to your household, too. Can your older kids make dinner, or your spouse take over the bedtime routine while you get an extra hour of work in? Creating a chore chart for the whole family is a great way to put this concept into practice and keep everyone accountable.
Done is better than perfect.
I’m not telling you it’s okay to slack off or do the bare minimum, but there’s no reason to go into full perfectionist mode either. Focus on getting one thing done before moving on to something else, and only go back to “edit” if you wind up with extra time.
Being a #bossmom means you’re an overachiever by default; if you get that article written and your offspring are fed and to bed, consider it a win (and reward yourself with some chocolate, you deserve it).