This week’s question deals with the challenge of balancing motherhood with home and work responsibilities. A mother wrote in: “I am a mother of two beautiful children (10-month-old and a 6-year-old) and also work full time. I am interested to know how other mothers manage everyday chores, such as cooking and cleaning, along with their full time job and still manage to spend some quality time with their kids every day.”
Our Power of Moms community responded with these themes:
Modifying Expectations: “Let go of what you think a ‘good mom’ is, or what your house is ‘supposed’ to look like. You’re in survival mode right now and in five years, you’ll be in a totally different place. Ignore people who aren’t supporting and encouraging you. Most of all, never apologize for having an income. You are not wrecking or failing your kids. Own your choices and be proud of what you do!” –Becky Fowkes via Facebook
“The fact of the matter is, that you won’t get it all done. You will triage every evening. Some evenings you will choose dishes and laundry. Others you will choose your children. You will find some way to make it bearable—your home and your parenting. Just remember to be kind to yourself—forgive yourself when things aren’t exactly the way you want them around the house. Forgive yourself when you aren’t as present with your children as you’d like. Remember that you are good enough!” –Colleen Kimberlin via Facebook
“I’ve decided that there are seasons in my life where my house will not be perfect or when we will eat out more than we have home cooked meals, and that will just have to be okay.” –TD Gail via Facebook
Delegating Home Tasks: “Let your kids work right along with you. Give them simple, age appropriate jobs to do. Soon you will find that they are actually helping and you are spending quality time with them because you are teaching the value of work and accomplishing tasks together. That said, I’ve tried this approach and sometimes I stress about having them there doing jobs with me. I’m such a perfectionist, but trying to see the value in letting them help anyway.” –Karen Uitto via Facebook
“My husband and two older kids are responsible for chores so that it all doesn’t fall on me. We follow a schedule. Each child over five years old has certain responsibilities on certain days.” –luvmy6fam via Instagram
“Enlist the kids to help where they can, like a ten minute power clean-up after dinner or before bed. I also clean after they go to bed, and I’m blessed with an awesome husband who cleans, too. He likes the laundry (which I hate) and I prefer things like cleaning the bathrooms. We all do dishes and take turns vacuuming. We both work, and we try to make it a family job so everyone participates. However, some days are better than others, and sometimes you have to be ok with a less than perfect house.” –alywilk via Instagram
“Hire a maid once or twice a week. Spend time with your kids first, then do laundry and dishes later.” –Heather Kelly via Facebook
“Hire someone, if you can afford it. I realize that many people find having a housekeeper to be a ridiculous luxury, or it might make you feel like you’re not as good as someone else who seems to manage without a cleaner. But it was the best money I spent when I was working! I wanted time with my kids, not to be scrubbing bathrooms. Maybe even a teenager that needs some extra money would be a good help for things like cleaning or laundry.” –Amber Nish via Facebook
Mindful Balancing: “Essentially it’s all a balancing act. Give a little here, lower your standards a little there. Be thoughtful where you put your effort, say no when you need to. Prepare to sleep less for many, many years. But you can do it. You will be fine. They will be fine.” –Lisa Malaniak via Facebook
“Make a schedule and plan family time and date nights out. Stick to it. Make a menu and prep dinners before the week starts. Take time in the evenings to talk to each child and get rid of TV or other social media distractions.” –Paula Allen via Facebook
“Weekends we don’t have any activities planned, just family time. We limit after school activities to one activity per child and make sure it doesn’t fall on a weekend.” –luvmy6fam via Instagram
“Some tips: 1.) Force yourself be totally present when you’re with your kids. It’s not easy. They’re not counting minutes, but they know when you’re distracted. 2.) Make yourself get up earlier. Use that time to make dinner (hello Crockpot!), go through backpacks, pay bills, etc. This is also the time to give yourself at least a few minutes of self-care such as reading a book, exercise, or prayer. You’ll be a better Mom when you take that time for yourself. 3) Make yourself go to bed earlier. Don’t fall into the night owl trap that leaves you exhausted and dragging. You literally need your beauty sleep. You have beautiful work to do and beautiful kids to raise. Your brain does not function on not enough sleep and while you may think you’re being productive from 11pm-1am, you’d be amazed at how much more you get done from 5-7am if you go to bed at 10pm.” –Becky Fowkes via Facebook
We recognize that all moms work full time, whether inside or outside the home. It’s a constant renegotiation of boundaries, time, and priorities and we commend all of you who are doing your best to find the right balance for your personal situation. We would love to hear any other thoughts you have on this topic.
QUESTION: What has worked for you and what hasn’t in your efforts to juggle work and family responsibilities?
CHALLENGE: Examine your schedule and obligations. What can you delegate or eliminate in order to find more time to spend with your children?
Image from Shutterstock; graphic by Anna Jenkins.