What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-Life balance has been a hot topic over the past few years as stress and burnout have significantly increased in the past few years.
Unfortunately, today the working public, especially Mothers, feel pressured to have it all. Social Media doesn’t help matters, with influencers posting perfect pictures of their homes, babies, bodies, and home offices.
Yet, at the same time, the average working Mom can sometimes barely make it out the door without her skirt tucked into her panties.
Misconception about Work-Life Balance
The biggest misconception about work-life balance is the perceived understanding of it. Many of us, especially Mothers, look at work-life balance as equal time spent working outside the home or within and time spent doing something you love. That is the perfect scenario, isn’t it?
Since perfection is unachievable, we need to understand that work-life balance, according to Hrzone.com, is defined as:
“The level of prioritization between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home .”
Let that sink in.
It’s the level of prioritization. Balance. It balances the amount of time spent on “work” with time spent on something that gives you pleasure or is a stress release.
The pandemic has brought about a switch in what they prioritize for many busy working moms.
Working from home during the pandemic, in most cases, and trying to navigate online school, plus all the other demands put on a busy Mom’s shoulders, has led to an increased desire for balance. So, is it possible to achieve the ever-allusive work-life balance?
Can Busy Working Moms Find Work-Life Balance?
A busy Mom can achieve work-life balance; however, not all work-life balance is the same for everyone.
For some, it could mean putting aside 30 minutes every evening, after everything has been cleaned up and put away, to read a few pages of a book or meditate.
It can be something big or small, like taking a hot bubble bath without interruption.
It can also look like taking the time to walk away from your computer or phone during working hours to eat your lunch slowly and mindfully.
Maybe it’s a commitment to walk with a co-worker each day for twenty minutes during your lunch break.
Understanding that work-life balance Is not necessarily an achievement takes a lot of the pressure off the busy Mom trying to attain the perfect work-life balance.
It takes time and small steps to implement a routine that allows for the time to take a breath or two and do something that gives you pleasure or takes the weight of the world off your shoulders.
Is There a Perfect Work-Life Balance?
Is work-life balance an equal divide between work and pleasure?
However, compartmentalizing your waking hours doesn’t allow flexibility, which adds more pressure to the already pressured working mom.
Another myth is time management and the idea that it works for everyone.
How many to-do lists have you made that make you hyperventilate because of the number of items on that to-do list that never, ever, get completed?
Time management, in theory, is excellent but again allows for very little flexibility, especially when the proverbial fire (that every working mother faces daily) needs to be extinguished.
Want to talk about the electronic myth? What we once thought would help us with work-life balance has become a detriment in all aspects of our lives.
For example, our cell phones and tablets have made it easier to stay working even after hours. Cell phones keep the bus working mom afloat and organized throughout the day.
But that also means we are constantly responding to emails and texts. We all thought addressing our work emails after the kids went to bed would alleviate having to deal with them the next day, but all it did was add to the number of hours we spent working.
You know that saying, “the early bird catches the worm?” Unfortunately, for some of us, that early bird needs to be excessively caffeinated throughout the day to stay awake to catch that bird.
Now, don’t get me wrong, many busy working moms swear by getting up at 5 am, working out or meditating, or just sitting in silence drinking their coffee and figuring out that day’s the Wordle answer.
Then there are the busy working moms who would love to get up at 5 am, but their kid had a rough night, went to bed way too late, or enjoyed not having to wake up at 5 am.
This doesn’t mean they won’t accomplish what they set out for their day. It does not make them less of a mother, less promotable, less of an incredible human being. Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next.
How to Strive Towards Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is not perfect. It will change. It has more to do with what you feel you need than what you think you need.
Busy working moms all do the should have, would have, coulda dance, but we rarely listen to what we need.
It is essential to determine what you, as a busy working Mom, need.
Track your daily habits for a week to see what things you can change or adjust to open up additional time to be used in more meaningful ways.
Goal planning is always a great exercise, and when used to help balance work and life, it can become even more critical.
This type of goal planning is NOT a to-do list and NOT the big-ticket goals you want o to achieve in five years. Instead, this list comprises smaller goals that are more mindful of the busy working Mom’s life.
For example, packing lunches the night before to free up your morning can be a goal you want to accomplish for the week.
Or maybe you realize that a Positive Mindset and Being Mindful is what is necessary for your work life and personal life to coexist in harmony.
Self-care is an integral part of creating a positive mindset. Of course, self-care will be different for everyone, but carving out the time for yourself is incredibly important.
Meditation, practicing gratitude, and journaling are things that any busy working mom can easily incorporate into a daily routine. You don’t need hours for any of these practices.
Headspace is an excellent app to help you with mindfulness and meditation. It’s so easy to follow and you can take 5 minutes or an hr. It’s so flexible and under your control.
I have a friend who sets the alarm on her phone for 9 am, 2 pm, and 9 pm to practice gratitude. She takes a breath and sits in silence, thanks to the universe for her family, her health, the sun shining….. whatever she feels grateful for.
She swears this grounds her, but more importantly, it allows her to take a few minutes to be present at the moment, whether at work or home.
Mindfulness practices come in all shapes and forms. For example, most busy working moms rush through dinner because they need to help with homework or drive their kiddo to a dance class or basketball practice.
Another busy working mom I know feeds her kids first and then gives them 30 minutes to do what they want while she and her partner sit together to eat their dinner slowly and without interruption.
These are all great examples of incorporating balance into the busy working Mom’s world.
Quality vs. Quantity
The key to finding work-life balance is knowing that it’s not about the quantity but the quality.
It is vital for busy working moms to understand because it is so easy to get wrapped up in the number of things, time, reasons, excuses, and needs that they face daily.
It is a prioritization exercise. Understanding what you need to free up time in the morning so that you can journal or determining that you need to practice yoga once a week outside the home, for example, is essential.
You need to get to the nitty-gritty of what YOU need to bring about balance in your life.
Think about the things you love outside of work and being a mom. Is it a hobby such as painting or a passion such as writing?
Start small and set aside 30 minutes twice a week to do what you love. And if you can make twice a week work, then stick with it. It doesn’t have to be the same day.
It can be different days, but those two days set aside for you will make a massive difference in your well-being.
Take Time off, take breaks, and take a vacation. It’s sometimes easier said than done but essential to work-life balance.
Busy working moms with jobs outside of the home save vacation time with their families. However, it is rare and quite expensive to go to a fun, family-friendly destination more than once a year.
So, use the additional weeks you might have differently. Take a day here and there and go to a spa or the movies yourself.
I know a busy working mom who booked a hotel room for one night and spent the afternoon and night alone, watching romantic comedies, eating take-out, and enjoying some much-needed time with herself. She came home the next day feeling more invigorated and confident that she could handle the stresses of being a working mom.
Taking breaks allows for a few minutes to get some fresh air, fill your coffee, read or meditate. Walking away from your computer a few times a day to stretch and get your blood flowing is a game-changer.
When the baby is sleeping, take 5 or 10 minutes to sit in silence instead of rushing to do laundry or the dishes.
Prioritize Your Health by moving your body, taking your vitamins, and eating mindfully are all things that contribute to a functioning work-life balance.
Staying as healthy as possible alleviates the need to take sick days, which then alleviates work piling up and deadlines missed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone gets sick, but by eating well and taking care of yourself physically and mentally, being sick will not take you down as quickly as it could if you weren’t mindful of your health.
Tips for Finding Work-Life Balance at Work
You can do several things to help find a better work-life balance at work and at home.
Let’s start with work first:
- Determine if there is an option to have a flexible work schedule that allows you to work from home one or two days a week
- Talk to your boss and determine if you can work four days instead of 5.
- Leave early and make up the time at a later date.
- Set your phone and emails to turn off automatically at 5 pm and turn back on at 9 am the next day.
- Plan your vacation time.
- Plan for your day the night before.
- Avoid distractions by turning off social media notifications on your phone.
- Listen to music that incorporates binaural beats or music that promotes concentration and focus. Youtube has a slew of playlists to choose from.
- Take breaks by setting the alarm on your phone or computer every hour and get up to stretch and walk around, take deep cleansing breaths or meditate for a few minutes.
Tips for Finding Work-Life Balance at Home
There are also several things you can do to find some balance at home:
- Organize your day the night before
- Unplug from your phone. Set a time to have it automatically turn off
- Be intentional with your activities
- Try going to bed 30 minutes later or waking up 30 minutes earlier a couple of times a week to allow some time to read, meditate, or catch up on a favorite show.
- Ask for Help-this is huge! Busy working moms run on empty most days. Ask your partner, your family, and your friends to help out so that you can take a step back to regroup and reconnect with yourself.
The most important for every busy working Mom is that work-life balance is not static. Instead, it’s fluid; it ebbs and flows, changes and advances, and sometimes stalls.
The key to making it work for you is to listen to what your body, mind, and soul need and implement small activities into your day that can help bring balance into your life.
Remember, it’s about prioritizing your time between work and doing what makes you happy and not about achieving perfection in balancing work and life.