Being a working mother (or ‘WoMo’) brings a set of challenges like no other.
Pre-motherhood, your days may be busy and full, and your life enriched by friends, family and other interests. Put a baby in the mix and, overnight, life is complex in new way. I am passionate about my career, and passionate about being a mum – which is what motivated me to set up the WoMo Network: a site for women who juggle Pampers and pitches, board meetings and board books.
There are a few key tips that come forward from WoMos who work for themselves, work for others, work full time or work part time. Regardless of what WoMo life looks like for you, these top 10 tips should help you navigate your way:
1. Take time for you. Lots of working mums say this as a must. Suggestions vary from taking a bath to getting your hair cut, having your nails done or enjoying a glass of wine. Carving out ‘you’ time is critical. Make sure you plan a regular evening out with your partner, too: your relationship is important.
2. Minimise screen time at home. Put away laptops and phones for kid time. And ban devices at meal times – it means you will be present with the children, and sets a good example to older kids. This is especially important if you work from home, because the lines can be blurred more easily when your office is your home.
3. Banish the guilt. It seems to come with motherhood and we end up feeling pulled in every direction. Guilt isn’t helpful and no one benefits from it. Try to find a way to minimise it.
4. Say ‘no’ sometimes. It’s important to have strong boundaries so everyone’s expectations are managed. It’s ok to use the phrase: ‘I am at capacity.’ The realisation that you cannot always be all things to all people, all of the time, is important.
5. Remember why you do it. Share with your older children why you work. Remember, you are a positive role model for gender diversity and equality. Watching their mum have pride in their career is something children will remember.
6. Good childcare. Whether this comes in the form of a nursery, nanny, neighbour, friend or family member, make sure you have support to help you when you are working.
7. Be organised. Plan ahead and keep lists. Be as organised as you can and think ahead. Have a childcare back-up plan so that, when plan A falls apart, you aren’t left in the lurch.
8. Make time for the kids. Plan time for you and your child. If you have more than one, try to give one-to-one ‘mum time’ to each of them. This is valuable time that they will remember, but equally you don’t need to overcompensate for not being around 24/7. This is frequently driven by guilt (see point 3).
9. Be in the now. Exist in the present and take each moment as it comes.
10. Stay strong. Don’t doubt yourself. There will be moments when you wonder why you are doing it, and you think you can’t juggle it all anymore. Then the next day, you will feel superhuman. Ride out the lows and embrace the highs.
Originally featured on People Management website.