Juggling work and family life is not an easy task – no matter how long you’ve been doing it, you will still have bad days, forget things, and end up feeling stressed.
You’ll be sat in a meeting and suddenly remember you forgot to sign a permission slip or send your child to school with their PE kit. Or you’ll be promising your kids “I’ll be right there” as you fire off work emails when it’s supposed to be your afternoon off.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I’ve been a working mum for 7 years (7 years this week actually!) and many days I don’t feel as though I have achieved the ideal work-life balance. Even though it has got easier as Little H gets older, there are always new challenges to test you – nowadays it mainly seems to be trying to work out how to attend school events when I need to be at work. It can be hard to know how to find a work-life balance to stop you feeling as though you’re constantly being pulled between work and family.
If you’re struggling to find a better balance between work and life, or worse feel like you have no work-life balance at all, have a read of my tips that may help you to create a work-life balance that works for you…
Find childcare that works for you
If you work then you will probably need to find some kind of childcare for your kids. It’s so important to choose a childcare option that works for you and your family. This might be a nursery, might be a childminder or it could be family or friends helping out.
For those who don’t have family to help, there are lots of different childcare options for working parents. Spend time researching various childcare providers in your area before making a decision so that when you’re at work you are confident that your child is happy and being looked after properly.
Even if your child is at school you may still need to find suitable childcare for afterschool or the during the school holidays. Make sure you have worked out how to sort childcare in the summer holidays way in advance as from personal experience this is the most stressful!
Choose your hours wisely…and stick to them
When you return to work after maternity leave it can be easy to feel pressured into going back to your full-time hours or to work more days than you are happy with, but if you let someone else dictate your hours you won’t ever feel like you have a good balance between work and family life.
If money allows, go part-time so that you can make sure you have enough time away from work to spend some time with the kids as well as time to get things like housework, food shopping and other chores done. You don’t want to be up until midnight because you have no other time to get things done.
Be strict about sticking to your working hours so you aren’t leaving work late and rushing to pick up your child from daycare, or spending time working when you should be with your family.
I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t do it all! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to work, look after your kids and have a clean house so you need to pick your priorities.
So what if you neglect the household chores a bit in order to play with the kids after school. And is it really the end of the world if you sit down and have a bit of a Netflix binge instead of doing the hoovering?
Sometimes you have to choose what makes you happy rather than what you feel like you should be doing.
Be an organised mum
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be organised when you’re a working mum. If you want to get everyone out of the door on time in the mornings then you need to prep the night before. I admit that I don’t always do this, and I regret it in the morning if I have to rush around making packed lunches or finding missing PE trainers.
Having a morning routine is also important if you don’t want to be late. Make sure kids old enough to do things for themselves know what they need to be doing, and when.
If there’s another grown up living in your house make sure they do their bit to help. You are both working so you should both share the workload of getting the kids ready and sorting the housework.
If you’re a single mum or your partner works away, accept any help offered from friends and family, whether this is an offer of babysitting, picking the kids up from school or help with some chores.
Children should understand that they need to help out too, give them chores to do such as putting their shoes away, tidying their toys and taking their plate into the kitchen after dinner.
There’s an app for everything so take advantage of that to help you to stay organised and save time. Do your food shop online, set reminders on your phone, and download apps to keep track of your to-do lists and finances.
This list of apps for busy mums will help you to stay on top of things when you’re not in the house – I do so much of my ‘mum admin’ when I’m in the car waiting for the school bell to go!
Separate your work life from your family life
A big factor in achieving a better work-life balance is being able to separate your work life from your family life. If you’re not really present when you should be working, or are still working when you should be with your family then you’ll never succeed at either.
Give yourself enough time to switch off from work before you get home, even if this is 5 minutes before getting out of the car. Turn off work emails and calls so that you can focus on being with your loved ones without distractions.
Look after yourself
A work-life balance isn’t just about your job and your family, you also need a bit of me-time every now and again. Schedule some time to yourself, whether it’s to read a book, do some exercise or have a bath in peace.
You spend a lot of time looking after everyone else, making sure they eat healthily and stay fit, so apply the same principles to yourself. Drink lots of water, take your vitamins, stay active and get an early night.
Plan things outside of work
We all need something to look forward to, for me it’s always a summer holiday to get me through the working days, for others it might be a special family day out or meeting up with friends. Whatever keeps you going, try to set plans with your family and friends so that if you have a hard day at work you have something to motivate you.
No one likes going back to work on a Monday morning but if you’ve had a fun weekend it does make it a little bit easier.
If you don’t enjoy your job, you’ll never find the work-life balance you’re searching for. Staying awake because you’re dreading going to work the next day will ruin any other plans you’ve put in place.
Sometimes you can get back your motivation for work, other times you might need to hunt down a new job that suits you better. Have a think about what it is you want (other than the paycheck at the end of the month) and work out how you can achieve it.
Do you have a good work-life balance or do you think there’s some room for improvement? If you’re still trying to create a better balance, I hope some of these tips have helped.