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Find balance between being a new mom and getting back to work: Everything you need to know about how to prioritize your life.
Going back to work after having a baby can feel incredibly daunting at first. You are essentially having to navigate a whole new way of balancing your time between your work life and your home life, but with the addition of a young child who needs you more than ever.
Even in today’s modern society, although the amount of housework that is performed by men has increased since, say for example, the 1940s,“women continue to perform the bulk of the housework, which significantly affects their employment”, according to several studies.
So, when you are already trying to balance your work with your housework, having a baby to factor into the equation means it is more important than ever to ensure that you know how to implement a great work/life balance. Not only will this benefit you, but also your baby, too.
Luckily for you, we have put together this article that will look at some of the ways you can build a great work/life balance as a mom and how to maintain this long-term. Happy mom, happy bub, remember, so do not think of yourself as being selfish for needing balance.
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 What Is a Work/Life Balance?
- 3 Tips for Achieving a Good Work/Life Balance as a Mom
- 3.1 Do Not Feel Guilty for Having to Go to Work
- 3.2 Plan Your Time Well
- 3.3 Arrange for Child Care You Trust
- 3.4 Be Honest With Your Boss
- 3.5 Be as Productive as Possible
- 3.6 Do Not Forget Your Partner
- 3.7 Make Time For Your Family
- 3.8 Stay Organized at Work
- 3.9 Ask Your Partner to Help with the Household Chores
- 3.10 Do Not be Hard on Yourself and Set Unrealistic Goals
- 3.11 Make Time for YOU
- 3.12 Connect With Other Working Moms
- 3.13 Ask For Help
- 4 How to Maintain the Work/Life Balance
- 5 Summary
What Is a Work/Life Balance?
A work/life balance is essentially a way of prioritizing your life so that you can balance both personal and professional responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed by one aspect.
There is no real way to define what the ‘perfect work/life balance’ is or should be, as this is something that will entirely depend on the individual and what they choose to prioritize.
For some people, the help you have around you will be a huge factor in your ability to create a great work/life balance. For the majority of others, it will require a mix of time management, scheduling, and an ability to be flexible with your workload, whether professional or personal.
And Why Is It Important?
Learning how to create a good work/life balance is especially important in today’s modern society after thousands of people were forced to start working from home due to the global covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020. We are still living with the aftermath of this today.
Besides, with the development of technology, mobile phone devices, cloud-based software, and the internet in general, it is far too easy for people to feel like they are always at work. This can, in turn, make it harder for people to switch off or re-focus on their family life.
Having a poor work/life balance can commonly lead to stress which is the opposite of what any new mom wants to be feeling. Not only that, but severe stress can lead to a drop in productivity which may lead to you feeling like you need to work overtime to catch up. This can then spiral into working too much and feeling overwhelmed, which leads to more stress.
So, in order to feel happy and stress-free both at work and at home, finding the right balance between them is absolutely essential and can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Can a Working Mom Have Both a Successful Career and Life?
According to Parents, out of the 2,000 moms that they reached out to for an exclusive survey about whether or not working moms can have both a successful career and life, 63 percent of the women surveyed said they do still believe that a good work/life balance is achievable.
We are not saying that it will always be easy, but in today’s day and age, there is no reason why you should not be able to create some sort of balance between having a successful career and a fulfilling life. With that said, this balance is never going to be completely 50/50.
If your child is sick, for example, you will need to give pretty much 100 percent of your attention to them until they feel better. When you have a busy week coming up at work with several tight deadlines to work to, you might need to stay late a few times until you finish.
Tips for Achieving a Good Work/Life Balance as a Mom
Throughout this next section, we will be taking an in-depth look at some of the best tips and tricks that we have found that can help you achieve a good work/life balance as a new mom.
Do Not Feel Guilty for Having to Go to Work
Okay, so Mom guilt is real, but it is not something that you should allow to take over your life.
Mothers are often judged or made to feel bad about ‘abandoning’ their children when they make the decision to return to work full-time, but the fact is that for many, this is a necessity.
As you work towards creating a better work/life balance for yourself, it is important to try and let go of working mom guilt as this can be crippling and can really hinder your ability to do both well. Do your best to ignore these harmful stereotypes and cut people out of your life if they make you feel bad about trying to provide for your family or following your dreams.
Instead, remind yourself of all that you are doing for yourself and your family and how strong you are. Focus on the positives and do not allow negative thoughts to take over your life.
Plan Your Time Well
You do not have to be an organized person by nature in order to achieve balance in your work and home life, but it will certainly be a big help. Being able to plan your time well means you will be able to spend more time on the things that you need or want to do instead.
Good time-management skills can help you get through your work faster, for example, as it allows you to be more productive with the time that you do have. This will, in turn, leave you with more time to spend at home with your family, leading to a much better work/life balance.
A good thing to do is to try and use time saving hacks for things that would usually take longer. Try to find shortcuts and plan strategically so that you can get more done in less time. For example, you can take conference calls during your commute or run a few errands on your lunch hour so that you don’t have to factor this into your after-work schedule.
Another good idea is to prepare things the night before so that you do not waste as much time during the day. This can include choosing your outfits for work and preparing your lunch so that it is packed and ready for you as you rush through your front door to get to work.
Arrange for Child Care You Trust
One of the hardest things about going back to work full-time after having a child is trusting someone enough to look after them while you are not there. Hence why it is so important for you to arrange to have child care that you trust, as this will give you a better peace of mind.
If you are considering daycare, you should try to look for one that offers flexible hours so you can fit your child care around your work hours. It is best to look for a daycare that offers smaller classroom sizes with a lower teacher to child ratio. Most importantly, any child care provider that you consider should have a clean, spacious environment and be fully licensed.
Nannies are another great child care option and this way you can have full confidence that your child is receiving all of the attention rather than trying to split it between other children. It is often advisable to have at least one trial day to double check that your nanny is a good fit.
Also, look out for nannies that have a long list of experience with some great references to back them up. When you are at work, you can stay in touch with your nanny who should be able to provide you with semi-regular updates on or photos of your child throughout the day.
Be Honest With Your Boss
Unfortunately, the majority of companies do not care about their individual employees which can leave a lot of people worried about job security. This can lead to concern about speaking honestly with your boss about any struggles you have for fear that they will just replace you.
If you are hoping to achieve a better balance between your work life and your home life, however, then you will definitely need to be honest with yourself and your boss about what you are going to need in order to enable you to return to work full time. It’s scary, but worth it!
Seeing as mom’s are often the primary parent, it will be your responsibility if your child is sick and needs to be picked up from daycare or if they have an appointment that they need to attend. Plus, mom’s are often the parents doing the school run, so, work flexibility is key.
As long as you are communicating openly and honestly with your boss or manager, you should be able to figure out a routine that works for you whilst still allowing you to be dedicated to your work. Hopefully, your boss will even appreciate that level of transparency!
Be as Productive as Possible
It might be easier said than done, but the best way to make sure that you are maintaining a good work/life balance is to ensure that your work hours are as productive as possible. This will allow you to finish work, go home, and focus solely on your responsibilities as a mom.
So, how do you increase productivity levels when you are at work? There are plenty of techniques that you can use that are pretty simple yet effective. This will often include things such as making detailed to-do lists, planning your day better, and taking short breaks.
Keep an eye on how much time you are spending chatting with colleagues as this is another thing that can seriously affect your productivity levels without you even realizing. Also try to limit the amount of time you allow yourself to spend on social media or trawling the internet.
When you are at home, try to limit the distractions around you in a similar way so that you can make the most of your time with your family so you feel more refreshed and relaxed.
Do Not Forget Your Partner
It can be easy to get wrapped up in trying to balance your responsibilities at work and your responsibilities as a mom, but what about your responsibilities to your partner? Feeling connected to your partner is an important part of any relationship, especially after kids.
Prioritizing your relationship as well as your responsibilities is therefore essential as this can impact every other aspect of your home life. This will ensure that you and your partner are able to work together like a well-oiled machine which can help you balance life and work.
So, wherever possible, try to organize regular date nights where you can spend some quality time together doing the things that you may not have time for now that you are parents. As lovely as going out for dinner can be, try to incorporate some new, fun activities for you both.
Make Time For Your Family
Similarly, it is just as important for you to try and make sure that you are able to spend time together as a family unit. To make this time more special for you all, it can be good fun to plan some family activities that you can do together that you will all end up enjoying.
Trying to find an activity that caters to every member of your family can sometimes be tricky, but here are some of our favorite family activity ideas to hopefully inspire you:
- Organize a games night that you can all take part in.
- Pack up a picnic basket and head to your nearest park.
- Take a trip somewhere to play mini golf.
- Go to the beach for the day or to a waterpark.
If you are still lacking inspiration, speak to your family! Find out what type of activities your older children and your partner would actually like to do and you should have plenty of ideas that you can refer to the next time you are thinking about trying to plan a family day out.
Stay Organized at Work
Organization is absolutely essential if you want to become the type of working mom who can perfectly balance her work and responsibilities at home. Sorry, but there is no way around it.
There is a lot of responsibility that is involved with being a mom. This can include things like doctor’s appointments, making sure school permission slips are signed, organizing holiday child care, making sure the fridge is full each week, staying on top of laundry… It is a lot.
Now think about your work responsibilities on top of this. Scheduling, appointments, deadlines… trying to organize every area of your life can be difficult! So, it is often a good idea to make use of a planner or a calendar app to stay on top of your responsibilities.
Google Keep is a good one to try out or alternatively, you can use a physical family calendar that everyone will be able to see so the whole family can stay organized. You can even color coordinate it so that everyone can easily see what they are doing. Just remember to hang it in a communal space, such as the kitchen, so that everyone will be able to check it.
Ask Your Partner to Help with the Household Chores
As we have already mentioned earlier, while there might be more men who are happy to embrace the concept of gender equality, there are plenty of men who are still a bit behind when it comes to doing their fair share of the household chores. Such slackers, ey.
Studies have actually shown that women in the US spend around four hours doing unpaid housework every day, which is comparable to the two hours and 30 minutes that men do, according to research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So, in order to create a better balance between your work and your home life as a mom, it is worth asking your partner to chip in with some more chores that need to be done around the house. This will take a few things off your plate and free up time for you to focus on yourself.
Do Not be Hard on Yourself and Set Unrealistic Goals
As much as we all want to be Super-Mom, setting yourself unrealistic goals is just another way to set yourself up for failure. It is important to try and not be too hard on yourself.
Try to share some of the household responsibilities with other members of your family so that it does not all fall to you. If you have older children, get them involved as well! We are in 2021, for goodness sake, so the housework should not be solely the woman’s responsibility.
You could even create a chores chart (which you could hang next to your organized family calendar…) that delegates certain tasks or chores to different members of the family.
Learning to lower the expectations for yourself could also involve learning how to say yes to less, and say no to a whole lot more. Not every party or dinner invitation needs to be accepted, especially if being this busy is causing you more stress than happiness.
Make Time for YOU
Self-care is a concept that has been around for centuries, but in recent years, there has been more of a push than ever to encourage people to take care of themselves better.
Even if you choose not to subscribe to the traditional concept of self-care, making time for yourself is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining some sense of peace. This is something that a lot of moms actually struggle with as it can be hard for some moms to put their own needs first, but this is even worse as it can lead to feelings of burnout.
If you are not taking enough care of yourself and your own needs, then you are not going to be able to give the same level of care and attention to the other people in your life. This goes for work, too, as people who are burnt out or feeling stressed often perform worse at work.
Connect With Other Working Moms
One way to help make sure that you are in the right headspace to be balancing your work and home life well is to build up a great support network of other people who understand what you are going through. A good way to do this is to connect with other working moms.
Although it is true that you have a limited amount of free time for socializing unless you are a full-time, at-home mom, there are still plenty of options that allow you to meet up with other moms who are also working. This can create a much-needed sense of community and shared experiences. Plus, these can be great friends to rant to when things are stressful!
Alternatively, you could also try to become closer with any colleagues you already work with who are also moms. Not only can this improve your work relationships, but you will also have a group of people you can turn to to arrange playdates or mom and baby activities.
Ask For Help
We spoke about this briefly earlier on in this article, but just to really hammer the point home, it is okay to ask for help. In fact, we would recommend that you do! Especially if you are struggling with a particular area in your life that is affecting your work/life balance.
In fact, this is actually more of a sign of strength than it is a sign of weakness.
Running around after everyone else and trying to pull yourself in one hundred different directions can leave you feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, which will also affect your ability to balance the responsibilities you have at work and the duties of care you have at home.
In some cases, you may even feel the need to outsource for additional help, such as hiring a cleaner or housekeeper who comes in a couple of times a week. There is definitely no shame in this, and although it can be expensive, it can help you stay on top of everything.
How to Maintain the Work/Life Balance
Now you understand some of the different ways you can create a better work/life balance for yourself, this section will look at some of the best tips we have for maintaining that balance.
Find Your Definition of Balance
When we spoke about the definition of a work/life balance in the introduction of this article, we did mention the fact that a great work/life balance can look different to everyone.
If you are trying to achieve someone else’s definition of a good work/life balance, you might find that this does not work for you which can leave you worse off than you were before. Instead, focus on trying to find your own definition of what a perfect work/life balance is.
This will help you find the routine that is the right fit for you, your family, and your work.
Accept the Fact that Not Everything Will be Perfect
In life, you have to accept that there are some things that are not always going to be perfect. This includes yourself, as well as your ability to manage and maintain your work/life balance.
Once you have accepted this, you will be much happier should any surprises come your way. Trying to fix every issue that arises and constantly striving to make everything in your life perfect will only be draining and can leave you feeling like a failure if things are not.
Instead, try to focus on a few things that you can strive for perfection in (a little bit of ambition never hurt anyone, after all), and allow some of the less important things in your life to slide.
For example, if having a clean, tidy kitchen is a priority but you are not that bothered about having a tidy bedroom, don’t try to do it all at once! Clean the kitchen, then if you need to, take a break and leave the bedroom cleaning until the weekend when you have more time.
Accept some imperfections and work with what you can to create a great work/life balance.
Try to Separate Work From Home as Much as You Can
This one has been a lot harder in the recent years as more and more people have started to work from home where there is more difficulty separating yourself from work when you are at home. Bedrooms, dining room tables, and kitchen corners have all become home offices.
Still, to maintain a great work/life balance, it is imperative that you find a way to separate your work from your home life as much as possible. This will help prevent you from taking out work stresses on your family or letting your personal problems affect your work.
To do this, it can be a good idea to turn off notifications for work outside of your working hours and to make sure that you are not working during the weekends or in the evenings. It can be more difficult separating your work from your home life, but try to do the same here.
Let Go of Always Stepping in to Help Out at Work
You might have been a “yes man” before, but doing so now could mean that you are forced to instead say “no” to your family, which is something that most moms are not willing to do.
As a mom who is looking to have a great balance between their work life and their home life, we would advise that you avoid working late all the time or constantly covering shifts for other people that you work with. Once you are in the habit of saying yes, it is hard to say no.
Besides, although we hate to say it, there are a lot of people out there in the world who are far too willing to take advantage of people who are like this. So, it is therefore important to try and set healthy boundaries when you are at work so that you do not end up helping everyone else and putting their needs before your own or your responsibilities to your family.
We hope that we have managed to reassure you that as a new mom, you can still have it all. It might not be easy, and it will take some determination and hard work on your part, but provided that you take everything that we have said here into consideration, you can do it!
Just remember that returning to work after such a long time off can be difficult, kids or no kids. Try to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you are doing what is best for you and your family, no matter what that might look like or what other people will say about it.
Oh, and one last thing – do not for one second think that being a mom will mean you are any less capable of doing your job. Your situation might need some adjustment, but where there is a will, there is always a way.