*This is a guest post
Whether you are a full-time working mum, a work-from-home mum, a stay-at-home mum or a part time working mum, finding a balance between work and family is always a challenge. Many of us get so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work we try to finish and try and give the quality time to our children, that we often end up stressed and worried.
Being a mum means we often go on guilt trips for different reasons – not being able to attend your child’s assembly at school or not being able to make those special cupcakes for their birthdays. But what is important is to understand that what children need from us is love and quality time. The key to finding a balance between work and family is to remain focused, have good time management skills and be very organized.
When I started to work full time, I realized that with a little bit of planning, I could actually spend good quality time with my family and my children never told me that they missed me a lot.
Let Go Of the Guilt
We all feel guilty about leaving our children at childcare or with nannies or with grandparents as we go to work. But what is important is to actually let go of the guilt. We should not really feel guilty. When I used to drop my child to daycare, she would bawl, every time I could leave her. I would feel so guilty, until one day the teacher told me that she stopped crying as soon as I closed the gate of the daycare. I was feeling guilty for no reason.
Soon, my child started loving going to daycare and would insist on going even on weekends, because she was happy, had loads of friends and toys to play with. I realized that feeling guilty about leaving her at daycare had started to make me a very cranky person and I would snap at her when I was at home. However, letting go of the guilt meant that I was a more loving mum and I could concentrate completely on getting my work done.
Try and Use Efficient Time Hacks
Always try and see how you can save time on things which can actually frazzle you. For example, if you’re having a new baby, make sure to set a breastfeeding and pumping schedule for your baby.
Try and do cleaning over the weekend which means that through the week you don’t have to worry about cleaning up over the week. If it is affordable, try and outsource jobs like mowing your lawn or cleaning your pool. See if you can take official calls during a long commute so that you can concentrate on your children completely when you get home.
Always prepare things the night before for the morning, so that the morning rush is not too bad. Get lunch boxes out, decide which clothes you plan to wear, keep things organized in a bag so that you can just take it and leave home.
Never Hesitate To Ask for Help
Remember you cannot do everything. Learn to ask for help. From spouses, from friends, from family and even from your children. And remember there is nothing wrong about it. When my child was a toddler, I put her in three or four extracurricular activities. I spent so much time stressing out on how I would take her to each class that I started to fall sick.
I realized that I was also being unfair to my child. She did not have to do music and dance and sports. She needed to enjoy her childhood with me. And then I just let it be. I let go of all the classes, except dance, because she really enjoyed it. When I used to come home late, I would stress so much that I could not tuck her in. But I realized, she loved being read a story by her dad (who seemed to be a better storyteller than me) and being tucked in by him, even when I was round. I realized asking for help from people around me just made my life easier.
Establish Limits and Boundaries
Often, women are known to take up extra responsibility just to prove themselves to be as efficient as men. But as mothers, we often forget that taking on extra responsibility can prove to be very stressful. Learn to say ‘no’ to things which will take up your time and your energy.
Often setting the correct expectations at work, make people realize that you value your family time as much as you value your job. This does not mean not paying attention to work, but anything that snatches away your precious family time, you should really consider if you want to take up that task.
We underestimate the importance of time management. Whether it is preparing meals for the week and freezing it or just scheduling appointments at the appropriate time, it all helps in saving time. Learn to delegate work to others (yes, it is very important), set your priorities and let go of tasks which are of lesser importance.
Do not micromanage people. Learn to trust others and let them do the assigned task their way. Create lists which you can refer and keep updating them as and when you finish tasks. Organizing yourself just makes life so much simpler.
Learn to be Flexible
It is important to be flexible, especially, when you have young kids. While it is good to have a schedule, it is good to be flexible about it. Children often change at a moment’s notice and it can be frustrating at times. But remember that you should be ready to change schedules, goals, and challenges.
Make Your Kids Independent
It will surprise you on how even young children can be extremely independent. Give them simple tasks like picking out what they will wear to daycare the next day, or keep their lunch bag in place. Let them fill their own water bottles and ask them to put their clothes in the laundry basket. In the evenings when you come home, ask them to put their lunch boxes in the dishwasher and fold their own laundry.
We often underestimate how much our kids can do for us. When my child was 3 years old, she would be ready to help a lot. She would try and get her own stuff organized and I realized that it actually helped me save a lot of time. I must admit there were days when she would refuse to do her own things, but that was really rare.
Take Leave From Work
We all are entitled to leave from work. Often, we feel guilty about taking it. But remember that special assembly which your child is presenting or that family fun day at daycare is what will make wonderful memories. Accept that sometimes you need to let go of your work tasks and spend quality time with your children.
Talk to your manager and let him or her know why you want the leave. You will be surprised on how understanding most managers are. That is because everyone values family time and know that these little instances make awesome memories for your children. Your kid will remember how you were clapping hard on the day he presented up on stage forever.
To Sum Up!
Finding that balance between work and family is very important. When at work, give it your hundred percent and when at home, ensure that you are completely there for your family. The key to finding the right balance is to be organized and plan as much as you can.
Do you have any special hacks to find that balance between work and family? Do let us know in the comment section.
Author bio: Serena is the creator of Kittymoms.com, which she started to share her knowledge and experience to first time mums, because being a first time mum is amazing, unforgettable and sometimes challenging.