We all know the life of a working mother is challenging; heck, I wrote a whole book on the topic. At home, we often manage more than our fair share of housework and childcare. At work, we still face a mommy penalty that can impact our wages and career opportunities. Overall, we report feeling tired and torn in many directions.
Despite the workload and resulting stressors, being a working mother can still be one of the most rewarding lifestyles a woman can choose. We can revel in the pleasures of family life and also derive satisfaction from pursuing professional goals. We can shift from mogul to mom and back, knowing we are providing for our family's emotional and financial well-being.
In 2014, why not focus on the best of working motherhood? Here are 10 New Year's Resolutions to help you do just that. Don't try to tackle them all (see resolution number 10); just choose a few. Because, while we can have it all, we can't do it all.
1. Define your own all.
Don't waste time worrying about how your life compares to someone else's. You will never define having it all the same way another woman does. Resist the "Michael's Mafia" -- the moms who make elaborate crafts and volunteer in the classroom -- maybe they have less demanding jobs than you. Don't worry that your neighbor just made partner at her law firm. You don't know what she may have sacrificed for her career success. Forget how a Princeton professor who consults for the State Department defines all, how I define all, how your mother-in-law defines all. Do what makes you happy and works for your family. That is all.
2. Build your power network.
Next time you are at the office, the PTO meeting, the grocery store, or on the commuter rail, look to your left and your right. See those women? They are a wealth of support and information. Network with them. Rather than trying to connect with Sheryl Sandberg or Hillary Clinton via your neighbor's sister-in-law's coworker, use your energy getting to know the power players in your everyday life. These are the women who can refer clients, financial planners, babysitters, even hairdressers. They are all around you. Get to know them.
3. Embrace competition.
While building that power network of women, don't rule out your competitors. The competition can make powerful allies. Despite the fact the mainstream media makes it seem like two strong women almost always equals a catfight, smart women know together we are stronger. Identify your closest competitors at work or in business and find a way to partner with them in 2014.
4. Get political.
Speaking of partnering with other women, make 2014 the year you get political. Get familiar with The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, The Healthy Families Act, The Paycheck Fairness Act -- all designed to improve the lives of working mothers -- and tell your legislators you want their backing. Support candidates who support working families by donating your time and money to their campaigns. Even better? Run for office.
5. Respect the flex.
On the subject of improving the lives of working mothers, respect flex in your workplace. Understand that flexibility is a two-way street and be sure to give as much flexibility to your employer as you ask them to give to you. If you negotiate work-from-home, flex start and stop times, or a part-time schedule, be prepared to accommodate the occasional needs of clients and coworkers during your off hours. The more we respect the flex, the more likely our employers will be to offer flex solutions.
6. Sleep more.
Want to be more productive at work or more present at home? Go to bed. Sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, depression, weight gain, mistakes on the job and short fuses at home. Stop trying to cram it all in by sleeping less. Aim for eight hours of sleep daily and say good night to tired in 2014.
7. Log off Facebook.
One way to find more time for sleep is to log off of Facebook. Be honest; how much time are you spending on the site? Never mind the Candy Crush addicition; what about the snooping? Do you really care what a former coworker made for lunch? Or that your neighbor is at the dentist? Or that someone from your college dorm that you knew 15 years ago dropped ten pounds? Log off and live your own life.
8. Put down the mop.
Women spend, on average, 30 percent more time on housework than men do. If we're so busy doing it all -- from folding the laundry to washing the dishes to mopping the floor, how are we supposed to have it all? In 2014, why not ease up on the housework? Lower your standards, even just a little, and free up some precious time to pursue career or personal goals or, just sleep.
9. Make the invisible visible.
Women tend to carry the burden for the invisible tasks as well as the visible chores. These tasks take up just as much mental energy as folding laundry and making dinner. But while it's one thing not to make the beds everyday, it's quite another to not book your child's doctor's appointment, or miss the deadline for soccer signups. We can't skip these tasks, so we need to get some help with them. In 2014, aim to make the invisible visible. Enlist your life partner in life maintenance. It's not enough for him to just drive the carpool. Ask him to organize the carpool schedule too.
10. Embrace good enough.
Of course, when you start letting others help, you need to be prepared to accept their way of doing things. Maybe you wouldn't dress your child in plaid and stripes, or perhaps you'd stack the dishwasher a different way. Let go to find balance. Don't let the pursuit of perfection derail your plans for the New Year. Go for good enough in 2014 and make it your best year yet.
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