As working moms, we're not just juggling; we're forever spinning a multitude of plates made up of different materials, shapes and sizes. Recent decades have seen the rise of maternal employment worldwide and many women run both full-time careers and their familial obligations. However, if not managed properly, this dual responsibility may be a formula for exhaustion, frustration or more serious health concerns.
Picture a scene where a mother wakes up at the crack of dawn, prepares lunch packs, gets ready herself, wakes the children and gets them ready, drops them off to school, goes to work from nine to five and on her way home, does some grocery shopping. Once home and already bone tired, she prepares dinner for her family and spends time with her children who have been waiting to see her all day. The demands don't end there; read a story, give a bath, play, explain why Snow White is crying, listen to husband's stressful workday and the list goes on.
Catch your breath yet? There's another side to this -- maternal employment can have many benefits, especially to low income or single parent families. As children observe dual earning parents, they are likely to develop a sense of responsibility, ambition and independence. While choosing to remain at home to raise the children might be a viable option, it doesn't necessarily help, because financial distress is an even more powerful source of marital/familial unhappiness and conflict. Even though it may be beneficial or even necessary for many families, the difficulties of maternal employment are not always easy to tackle.
The most challenging aspect is the consistency of workload throughout the week. Worse yet, weekends are no different because they may be devoted to pending errands like ironing, grocery shopping, visiting family and entertaining the children through different activities. Unfortunately working mothers do most of the household chores, even if both parents are working. The good news is that things are changing and men have acknowledged the necessity to step in a bit more to help their life partner.
Other challenges faced by working mothers may include:
• Lack of energy for extracurricular activities with children or family
• Decreased social life
• Issues with child minder or nanny
• Marital issues
Mothers at work tend to worry about their children constantly and this may reflect on their performance. Of course, let's not forget the mother's guilt, which is largely associated with leaving their children in someone else's care or always feeling that they're not doing enough. In the long run, if a balance isn't achieved, this guilt plagues the mind constantly causing anxiety, stress and perpetual unhappiness.
So it's time to change a few things. Run a warm bath for yourself and while your waiting for that period of rest and relaxation, think about these tips to help juggle responsibilities:
• Don't try to be Superwomen; she's a fictitious character and her main power is being invisible.
• Learn to ask for help, both at home and at work.
• Make sure that childcare organized is satisfactory and that you're happy with the care your children receive
• Delegate household chores and other responsibilities.
• Have that talk with your husband as he can't guess what's making you cross. Tell him you need help and ask him which chores he'd like to be in charge of.
• Get organized. Don't leave everything for the mornings when you're rushing around like a headless chicken.
• Prepare the children's lunches and iron your clothes before going to bed and make sure the alarm clock is loud enough to reach your husband's ears so maybe he can help with the busy morning routine.
• Do your grocery shopping online if possible. This will save both time and energy.
• Make time for yourself.
• Be present in whatever you're doing. When you are at home enjoy being there, when you are at work enjoy being at work and focus on getting your work done.
Being employed and balancing a family can be one of the most difficult challenges of working mothers but it won't just happen, you need to step off this terrifying treadmill. Trust that it can also be the most satisfying experience through getting organized, having realistic expectations and paying attention to detail. Both men and women need to help one another to achieve this goal and eventually things can become smoother to manage. Finally, remember that we won't succeed as good moms if we're not happy with ourselves.