Before I became a parent, I promised myself that I would never allow my kids to get in the way of the lifestyle I had come to know and love. However, over time, I realized that having children requires a lot more of your time and dedication than you could ever anticipate.
There are more working moms today than potentially ever in modern history, which is a dream that many before us fought for, yet the psychological and emotional impact of balancing a thriving career and motherhood is often overlooked. Many women get lost in a cycle of guilt, trying to land the optimal balance between being physically and emotionally available for their family and dedicating enough time and energy to their job. The truth of the matter is, however, that between meetings and soccer games, team-building exercises and school concerts, we are plagued with commitments at any given time, often leaving us feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Being 100 percent dedicated to both our family and our career is rarely ever feasible or sustainable.
Here, I’ve outlined a few of the hacks that I have picked up along the way and that help make managing both my family life and my work life much easier and more bearable.
Utilize all the organizational resources available to you.
From hard-copy calendars to AI technology like Alexa, there are now endless ways to organize your life — you simply have to find the tool that works best for you. By utilizing these resources, you’ll feel more in control of your month-to-month schedule, in turn preventing you from getting lost in an endless sea of dates, times, and reminders. Shared family calendar apps are another way to keep everyone on the same page and share tasks with other members.
Collaborate with others.
As much as we’d like to do it all, reaching out for help is key to maintaining your schedule – and your sanity. When overwhelmed, get in touch with your spouse, neighbors, friends, nanny, and any one of your close contacts to see if they can provide a helping hand. If you have children, carpooling can be a lifesaver. While you may think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, in reality, it’s actually a sign of efficiency.
Simplify breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Meal prepping is not only going to save you time, but it will also help relieve stress by providing you with a clear-cut plan for your week of meals. What many of us don’t realize is that feeding our families can subtract a decent chunk of time out of our day, so the more efficient you can become in this regard, the better. Every week, set aside a couple of hours to meal prep (preferably on the weekend) so that, once Sunday comes around, you have one less thing on your to-do list. If your weekend is already packed, consider trying out a meal-delivery program that either sends you the ingredients or the fully prepared meals.
Prioritize as often as possible.
You have a finite number of hours in the day, so it’s time to get ruthless with your prioritizing. Be very clear on what is important for you to accomplish each day, and don’t take on things that aren’t or that can be delegated to others. Make sure to consistently update your task list as you complete them. By doing this each week, you get yourself in the right mindset for productivity. Additionally, you’ll remain well aware of what needs to be done right away versus what can wait a couple of days.
Find time for self-care.
According to Parkinson’s law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you never set aside time for yourself to do things you actually enjoy, you will find that all your time is dedicated to your family and your job, with no room for you to take a much-needed break. That’s why it’s important to schedule time for yourself before your week begins so that, no matter what, you have space to tend to your own needs. Without doing this, you could quickly become burned out, unmotivated, and unnecessarily unhappy.
Remain grateful and positive.
While this is easier said than done, reminding yourself that you are important and have a purpose can help uplift your spirits when drowning in a sea of responsibility. I know it does for me. Instead of dreading going to work, be grateful for the opportunity. And when things get hard at home, remember that you were blessed with a beautiful family. No matter what happens, your happiness is the most important thing. By modifying your perspective, that happiness becomes a lot easier to achieve and maintain.
Ramitha Liddington is the Chief Compliance Officer of Sarwa.co, an online financial advising platform. As a working mom, she is well-versed in the responsibilities that go along with maintaining a career, as well as a household.